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 at an automobile dealership say that unless the dealer installs your aftermarket equipment you will automatically void your new car warranty? This common misconception has been repeated often enough to be widely believed — though it is completely false.
Most vehicle owners are not aware they are protected by federal law: the Magnuson-Moss Warranty — Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act of 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, which provide further protections for vehicle owners.
In other words, a dealer can’t get out of the 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 they do not cover the aftermarket products themselves. They are not saying that the products would void the vehicle warranty.
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 they explain how the aftermarket equipment caused the problem. If they can’t (or the explanation sounds questionable) it is your legal right to demand they comply with the warranty.
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.
For “The Businesspersons Guide to Federal Warranty Law” and the full requirements of the Magnuson-Moss Act, visit the FTC’s web site.