Hi everyone. I actually posted this in the Autocross section to help dispel some accidental (but well intentioned) misinformation floating around. I thought about it, and feel it might be good reading for others who plan on modifying their cars. Just so we all know how far our rights do/do not extend. Sorry for the length, it is a little long. So, in cut and pasted glory...
Let me start by saying, upfront, that I am in no way trying to discourage people from modifying their cars. I used to do it myself, in my younger days, and think it is great.
However, I just wanted to add some information to the entire Modification/Magnuson-Moss Act conversation. Some of us seem to be extending the idea of how much protection the M-M Act actually affords, way beyond the point of reality.
For example, I keep seeing the statement that (and I'm loosely quoting here) "the manufacturer, or Dealer, has to prove beyond a doubt that your modification caused the problem". Well unfortunately, that statement is not true. The manufacturer only has to prove that their was a correlation between the modification and the failure, and a likelihood that it may have contributed to the failure.
And remember, unless/until you take them to court, they don't have to "prove" anything. They just have to refuse to fix it. It is not like a criminal case, where guilt must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt".
Here are some general examples of when the Magnuson-Moss act would apply: If you add a new exhaust system, the Manufacturer cannot
deny your warranty claim for an electrical problem with your radio or if your windshield wipers had become inoperative. If you tint your windows, the Manufacturer cannot
deny your warranty claim if your head gasket blows. If you put 20 inch wheels on your car, they cannot
deny a warranty claim due to a radiator failure. The modifications had absolutely nothing to do with the failures. In other words, there has to be a direct correlation between your modification and the failed part. These are just a few general examples to give you an idea.
What I worry about is that some of us may get some unpleasant surprises a year or so down the road, if we have a problem and have certain mods.
Here are some general examples of when the Magnuson-Moss act may leave you hanging in the breeze: If you put 20 inch wheels on your car and any part of your suspension fails, don"t be surprised if your warranty claim is denied
. If you put an aftermarket intake on your car, and you have problems with the MAF, injectors, etc, etc, don't be surprised if your warranty claim is denied
. If you modify or alter any part of your electrical system, and wind up with an electrical problem, again, don't be surprised if your warranty claim is denied
Now, this does not mean that warranty claims will always be denied under these circumstances. The Dealer may not notice your modifications, or may be more liberal with their decisions. You may be lucky, or they may be nice about it.
However, the Magnuson-Moss Act is not as protective as some of us have been led to believe. It is also possible you will get shoved in front of the bus!
We also need to remember that the Auto Manufacturers and Dealers have teams of lawyers paid to do nothing but handle their legal business. We don't. If they deny your Warranty claim, plan on either eating the loss, or spending time and money to take them to court. Unless you have deep pockets and lots of free time, you will most likely lose. And to be honest, you may lose even if you do have deep pockets and free time.
Also, on many of these aftermarket parts websites, you will often see them state that "your Warranty cannot be "voided" due to installing their parts on your car." Again, that is a half truth. It is a play on words. Your "Warranty" is not voided by adding their parts, but your particular claim can certainly be denied. And we all know that if you have to take the Dealer or Manufacturer to court, the aftermarket firm will not be paying to send their lawyers to protect your rights. You will be on your own.
In conclusion, I just want to inject a sense of reality to the conversation. I would rather we all know the possibilities than be unpleasantly surprised at a later date. Please, keep on improving your cars, just do it intelligently and in an informed manner.
Sorry for the term paper. Good luck all!