Can an automotive dealership void your warranty?
Understanding the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975.
Nearly everyone has heard about someone who has taken a vehicle that has been modified with aftermarket parts to a dealer for warranty service, only to have the dealer refuse to cover the defective items. The dealer usually states that because of the aftermarket parts the warranty is void, without even attempting to determine whether the aftermarket part caused the problem.
This is illegal.
Vehicle manufacturers are not allowed to void the vehicle warranty just because aftermarket parts are on the vehicle. To better understand this problem it is best to know the differences between the two types of new car warranties and the two types of emission warranties.
When a vehicle is purchased new and the owner is protected against the faults that may occur by an expressed warranty - an offer by the manufacturer to assume the responsibility for problems with predetermined parts during a stated period of time. Beyond the expressed warranty, the vehicle manufacturer is often held responsible for further implied warranties. These state that a manufactured product should meet certain standards. However, in both cases, the mere presence of aftermarket parts doesn't void the warranty.
There are also two emission warranties (defect and performance) required under the clean air act. The defect warranty requires the manufacturer to produce a vehicle which, at the time of sale, is free of defects that would cause it to not meet the required emission levels for it's useful life as defined in the law. The performance warranty implies a vehicle must maintain certain levels of emission performance over it's useful life. If the vehicle fails to meet the performance warranty requirements, the manufacturer must make repairs at no cost to the owner, even if an aftermarket part is directly responsible for a warranty claim, the vehicle manufacturer cannot void the performance warranty. This protection is the result of a parts self - certification program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).
In cases where such a failed aftermarket part is responsible for a warranty claim, the vehicle manufacturer must arrange a settlement with the consumer, but by law the new - vehicle warranty is not voided.
Overall, the laws governing warranties are very clear. The only time a new vehicle warranty can be voided is if an aftermarket part has been installed and it can be proven that it is responsible for an emission warranty claim. However, a vehicle manufacturer or dealership cannot void a warranty simply because an an aftermarket equipment has been installed on a vehicle.
If a dealership denies a warranty claim and you think the claim falls under the rules explained above concerning the clean air act (such as an emission part failure), obtain a written explanation of the dealers refusal. Then follow the steps outlined in the owners manual. However, if this fails, then phone your complaint in to the EPA at (202) 233-9040 or (202) 326-9100.
If a dealer denies a warranty claim involving an implied or expressed new car warranty and you would like help, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, you can call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.
WHAT IS THE MAGNUSON-MOSS WARRANTY ACT?
On January 4, 1975, President Ford signed into law the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Title 1, ..101-112, 15 U.S.C. ..2301 et seq. This act, effective July 4, 1975, is designed to "improve the adequacy of information available to consumers, prevent deception, and improve competition in the marketing of consumer products. . . ." The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies only to consumer products, which are defined as "any tangible personal property which is distributed in commerce and which is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes (including any such property intended to be attached to or installed in any real property without regard to whether it is so attached or installed)." Under Section 103 of the Act, if a warrantor sells a consumer product costing more than $15 under written warranty, the writing must state the warranty in readily understandable language as determined by standards set forth by the Federal Trade Commission. There is, however, no requirement that a warranty be given nor that any product be warranted for any length of time. Thus the Act only requires that when there is a written warranty, the warrantor clearly disclose the nature of his warranty obligation prior to the sale of the product. The consumer may then compare warranty protection, thus shopping for the "best buy." To further protect the consumer from deception, the Act requires that any written warranty must be labeled as either a "full" or a "limited" warranty. Only warranties that meet the standards of the Act may be labeled as "full." One of the most important provisions of the Act prohibits a warrantor from disclaiming or modifying any implied warranty whenever any written warranty is given or service contract entered into. Implied warranties may, however, be limited in duration if the limitation is reasonable, conscionable, and set forth in clear and unmistakable language prominently displayed on the face of the warranty. A consumer damaged by breach of warranty, or noncompliance with the act, may sue in either state or federal district court. Access to federal court, however, is severely limited by the Act's provision that no claim may be brought in federal court if: (a) The amount in controversy of any individual claim is less than $25,000; (b) the amount in controversy is less than the sum or value of $50,000 computed on the basis of all claims in the suit; or (c) a class action is brought, and the number of named plaintiffs is less than 100. In light of these requirements it is likely that most suits will be brought in state court. If the consumer prevails, he is awarded costs and attorneys' fees. Nothing in the Act invalidates any right or remedy available under state law, and most suits should proceed on claims based on both the Code and the Act.
thought i'de put this in here somewhere. "dont ground out!"