Whether you’re shopping for a replacement exhaust system or in the market for an aftermarket cold air intake—and you’re worried about your vehicle’s warranty—have no fear. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which protects consumers from being wrongfully denied warranty coverage when they customize their rides.
If you’re an auto enthusiast, chances are, you’ve heard the myth that modding your ride with aftermarket accessories automatically cancels your warranty. While this may be true in certain circumstances, you shouldn’t take this as an absolute. According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a vehicle manufacturer cannot void the warranty of your vehicle due to an aftermarket part unless they can prove that the aftermarket part was the cause of or contributed to the failure of the vehicle (15 U.S.C. 2302 (C)). This means that a vehicle's warranty cannot be "voided;" the dealer can only deny a claim if the stock part failed due to damage or unreasonable use.
When accessorizing your vehicle with aftermarket parts, your warranty claim cannot be automatically denied, nor can your warranty be voided, if you install non-OEM parts in your vehicle. The burden is on the dealer to prove the aftermarket parts caused the failure. For example, if your windshield wiper motors fail, your vehicle’s warranty claim can’t be denied because you installed aftermarket windshield wipers that are different from OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. Similarly, if a wheel bearing fails or a fan belt snaps and you have an aftermarket exhaust installed, the dealership would have to prove the exhaust system caused the bearing failure or the belt to snap in order to deny a warranty claim. In these types of scenarios, the dealership should have no reason to deny your claims.
In addition to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you also have SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) working to protect your rights. Because SEMA represents U.S. aftermarket wholesalers, retailers, distributors and manufacturers, they often keep car manufacturers in check by supporting legislation that prevents dealership service providers from denying warranty coverage. This means dealerships have become less stringent when it comes to aftermarket parts that modify performance or suspension.
Passed in 1975, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that governs warranties on consumer products. Under this Act, sellers and manufacturers of consumer products must provide consumers with detailed information about warranty coverage. Sponsored by Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and U.S. Representative John E. Moss of California, this Act affects both the obligations of warrantors and the rights of consumers under written warranties.
The Act’s purpose is to help consumers understand their products’ warranties and to make these warranties enforceable. In essence, this statute was created to protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices and provide clarity regarding warranties on consumer products. To comply with the Magnuson-Moss Act, consumers should obtain complete information about warranty items and conditions and compare warranty coverage before any purchase. The Act also provides the Federal Trade Commission with a better means to protect consumers, while strengthening the incentive for companies to perform their warranty obligations in a thorough and timely manner. While all consumer products are not required to have warranties, if one is given, it must comply with the Magnuson-Moss Act.