Since the beginning of time man has always used some sort of transportation whether it’s been their feet, horses, and now cars. Humans have always had a fascination with upgrading these modes of transportation with shoes, carriages, and even stickers that magically add 10 horsepower. While some upgrades can improve vehicle performance, we want to discuss aftermarket parts on your vehicle and how they can affect your vehicle’s warranty.
What is a vehicle warranty?
The vehicle’s warranty is a contract between the consumer and the manufacturer of the vehicle. The manufacturer promises to take care of any applicable repairs provided that the consumer maintains the vehicle’s proper care from the expectations of the manufacturer. This contract can be broken if the consumer does not hold up their end of the bargain.
Read the fine print!
First and foremost, make sure you review everything in your warranty and fully understand what it covers and does not cover. Take some time to go over the warranty contract carefully to ensure that you know whether there is anything you are prohibited from doing to your vehicle.
Know your rights.
Magnuson-Moss warranty act. Most consumers have no clue what this is. This act was passed by Congress in 1975, and it governs the warranties on consumer products. It was designed to help consumers understand, compare, and enforce the warranties on their products. This federal statute protects consumers’ rights by compelling warrantors to use clear language and complete information in their warranties and to avoid deceptive practices. Any consumer product that comes with a warranty including car parts and accessories must comply with this act. The federal trade commission has since been reminding consumers of their rights to install aftermarket parts without fear of having their warranty voided.
(Important: Adding a jet engine to your VW Bug will likely void the warranty)
So how does this apply to your car parts? According to the act, the vehicle manufacturer cannot automatically cancel your warranty just because you installed an aftermarket part. That would be considered an illegal practice. That said, if your aftermarket part somehow causes or contributes to a failure in your vehicle, the dealer may be able to deny your warranty claim as long as they can prove the connection. In these cases, the burden of proof is entirely on the dealership. Again, you need to read the fine print of your warranty contract. Some manufacturers might void your warranty based on what is written in the contract. Another suggestion is to ask your dealership what their policies are so that they can tell you exactly what will void your warranty.
The proof is in the pudding.
A few years back, Ford issued a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) regarding blown head gasket‘s on some of the motors in their vehicles. A lot of vehicles were coming into shops across the country with blown head gaskets. The common thread? Performance chips were installed to boost engine output. According to Ford TSB, on trucks with blown head gaskets, service techs were instructed to check for the installation of a performance chip. A performance chip increases engine power by modifying engine management parameters. Part of the program modification on these Ford engines included increasing the turbo boost pressure, thus blowing the head gaskets. In such cases where the vehicle was under warranty, claims were denied and engine warranties were voided. The car manufacturer simply confirmed that the head gasket failure was indeed due to the installation of the performance chip. The car manufacturer was well within his rights to deny claims and void engine warranties.
The final say.
Ultimately, it is determined by the manufacturer and dealership whether or not a warranty will be voided. Your best bet would be to do the research on the parts you want to install to see if they will void your warranty. Talk to your dealership to see what they have to say. They most likely have seen it before and will have the right answers to give you. We all want to have fun with our cars, but we also want to make sure that they keep running well. If you are interested in modifying your vehicle, hopefully, this piece will point you in the right direction to ensure that your performance gains don’t kill your warranty.