You want to upgrade your vehicle with
aftermarket equipment, but you're worried about putting the vehicle's
warranty at risk. It's no wonder. How many times have you heard someone of a
dealership say that installing aftermarket equipment automatically voids the
warranty? This common misconception has been repeated often enough to be widely
believed though it is completely false.
Fact: Dealers don't like warranty work,
because it pays less than normal repair work. By promoting the myth that
aftermarket equipment automatically voids warranties, some dealers avoid such
low-paying work. Instead, they attempt to charge customers the prime service
rate for work which is rightfully done under warranty.
Most vehicle owners are not aware they are protected by federal law: the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty ‰ÛÒ Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act of 1975.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Act, aftermarket equipment which improves performance
does not void a vehicle manufacturer's original warranty, unless the warranty
clearly and conspicuously states that aftermarket equipment voids the warranty.
Most states have warranty statutes, as well. Which provide further protections
for vehicle owners.
In other words, that means a dealer can't
wiggle out of his legal warranty obligation merely because you install
aftermarket equipment. To find out if any aftermarket equipment automatically
voids your vehicle's warranty, check the owner's manual. It is likely the
language you are looking for appears under a heading such as "What Is Not
Covered" Although the language seems negative, remember your vehicle
manufacturer is simply saying he does not cover the aftermarket products
themselves. He is not saying that the products would void the vehicle warranty.
VEHICLE DEALERS OBLIGATIONS
Suppose your modified vehicle needs repairs while still under warranty. Without
analyzing the true cause of the problem, the dealer attempts to deny warranty
coverage. He made his decision simply based on the fact that you've installed
aftermarket equipment a convenient way to dodge low-paying warranty work.
An example of how ridiculous this can get is
the man who was denied warranty coverage by a dealer on his power door locks,
because he had improved his exhaust system! Sounds nuts? It really happened because that man did not know his rights and challenge the dealer's decision.
Fact: A dealer must prove, not just say, that aftermarket equipment caused the need for repairs before he can deny
warranty coverage on that basis.
Point out to the dealer the provision of the Magnuson-Moss Act- Require that
he explain to you how the aftermarket equipment caused the problem. If he
can't, or his explanation sounds questionable,it is your legal right to
demand he comply with the warranty.
Fact: If you are still being unfairly denied
warranty coverage, there is recourse. The Federal Trade Commission, which
administers the Magnuson-Moss Act, monitors compliance with warranty issues.
Direct complaints to the FTC at (202) 326-3128.
"Certain changes that you might make to your truck do not, by themselves, void
the warranties described in this booklet. Examples of some of these changes are:
installing non-Chrysler parts, components, or equipment." - 1997 Warranty
Information supplement to Dodge
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION
"If a Chevrolet part fails due to a defect in material or workmanship not
related to (on aftermarket products) or the labor to install it. Chevrolet would
be responsible for covering the failed part." - Chevrolet Customer
FORD MOTOR COMPANY:
"Installation of a non-genuine Ford item does not, in and of itself, render
warranty void." - Ford Owner Relations Division
FEDERAL LAWIn order to improve the adequacy of information available to consumers,
prevent deception, and improve competition in the marketing of consumer
products, any warrantor warranting a consumer product to a consumer by means of
a written warranty shall. . .fully and conspicuously disclose in simple and
readily understood language the terms and conditions of such warranty. Such
rules . . . require inclusion in the written warranty of any . . . exceptions
and exclusions from the terms of the warranty.' - Magnuson-Moss Warranty
& Federal Trade Commission improvement Act. Section 2302(a)