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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...



Hi all. :wavey: 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! :cheers:
 

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Thats some great info...

But how can the dealers prove that you had a new exhaust system on, if you take it off and put the stock back on? How can the dealer prove that your 20's messed up your suspension if you put the stock wheels back on? How can the dealer prove that your plug/maf sensors are bad if you take the intake off and put the stock on and re-tune the car for 2-3 weeks before you take it in?

As for as the ford dealer that I have been talking with, they aren't even smart enough (or willing enough) to fix a simple rattle. For them to know anything beyond what they can see with their own two eyes would blow my mind.
 

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[quote author=anarchyx link=topic=91546.msg1776429#msg1776429 date=1192211181]
Thats some great info...

But how can the dealers prove that you had a new exhaust system on, if you take it off and put the stock back on? How can the dealer prove that your 20's messed up your suspension if you put the stock wheels back on?
[/quote]

Simply, they can't. What bbf posted is true...people seem to think that their warranties will automatically be voided when they add aftermarket parts due to some slick dealer. This is not the case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
[quote author=anarchyx link=topic=91546.msg1776429#msg1776429 date=1192211181]
Thats some great info...

But how can the dealers prove that you had a new exhaust system on, if you take it off and put the stock back on? How can the dealer prove that your 20's messed up your suspension if you put the stock wheels back on? How can the dealer prove that your plug/maf sensors are bad if you take the intake off and put the stock on and re-tune the car for 2-3 weeks before you take it in?

As for as the ford dealer that I have been talking with, they aren't even smart enough (or willing enough) to fix a simple rattle. For them to know anything beyond what they can see with their own two eyes would blow my mind.
[/quote]

Hi anarchyx. :wavey: You are correct. If you switch everything back to stock, and leave absolutely no trace of the modification, of course the Dealer will most likely never even know your car was modified. But most people do not go through that amount of trouble, especially since the phrase "The Dealer has to prove beyond a doubt that your modification caused the problem" has been thrown around so much.

That is exactly the point. If you bring the car in with the modifications on it, and your modifications can be connected, even in the slightest, to failed parts of the warranty claim, you may be denied. And of course, if you are asked about modifications to your car and you lie, you have to understand that you are breaking the law. Remember, the Auto Manufacturers and Dealers have much deeper pockets than we do.

So, the moral is, always be careful about the modifications you make to your car while it is still under warranty. The Magnuson-Moss act does not give quite as much protection as some people have been led to believe.

I'm just looking out for my fellow forum members. Good luck! :cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
[quote author=mrc link=topic=91546.msg1777569#msg1777569 date=1192236953]
On the other hand, modifying your vehicle isn't as bad as most dealers will LEAD you to believe.
[/quote]

Hi mrc. :wavey: You are 100% correct. Some Dealers certainly overextend the "modifications are bad" routine. That is why we need to be informed and careful.

Good luck! :cheers:
 

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I worked for for Ford ESP ( Extended Service Plan ) and still have a few great friends that work there. I was on the inspections team which consisted of a group of people who had a multitude of automotive knowledge. Some with degrees, ASE Master Certifications and many, many, and I do mean many years of experience. Our teams soul job was to approve high dollar claims. We would look at claims that broke a certain dollar amount which normally meant engine, transmission, drive train, and suspension items.

Your dealership would send a request for your claim. We would send out an independent inspector who would come to the dealership to take the pictures of the failure, inspect the failure and write a report of his/her findings. Right after their inspection they would call us while they are still at the dealership. They would report their findings. We would ask any probing questions to ensure the failure was indeed a legitimate failure, the mechanic correctly diagnosed the failure, and the parts the mechanic requested were the correct parts to fix the problem. If more tear down was needed it would be requested, if they requested a overhaul we might suggest a replacement or the other way around. **** The number one question depending on the vehicle would be do you see any modifications to this vehicle? Whether they be installed now or previously installed. Did you get pictures of these modifications and did you ask the dealership about these modifications or suspected modifications? ******* If we suspected modifications or found modifications then looked at whether these modifications could have directly affected the failure of the item on the vehicle. If so, we denied that claim on the car.

Your next question is, how do you know it was modified? We have all be working on cars for years, inside and out and upside down. We've seen fully blown nitrous rods to sludge monsters from hell. We know what every failure looks like, what the failure does to a car when it fails. We know where you mount your nitrous tank mounts in the floor. Where you install your computer tuners, where the superchargers mount and what the wires from every manufacturer from these after market companies looks like and how your would install them.

We didn't look for ways to deny your claim. But Ford sure is not going to foot the bill for your experimentation in to performance, suspension, or electrical modifications.

Does that mean you can't do it. By no means, but just remember that they can and will if they deem it played a roll in the failure.
 

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I think, and correct me if I'm wrong. If a modification has been made to an engines performance, such as using a tuner, the cars engine management system records everything that was going on at the time of a catastrophic failure. The engine management system also knows what functions were performing outside of the stock factory parameters. Therefore, even if the program is retuned to the stock configuration after using a turner, the system knows that something has been done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
[quote author=NuclearFusion link=topic=91546.msg2207077#msg2207077 date=1207321091]
I think, and correct me if I'm wrong. If a modification has been made to an engines performance, such as using a tuner, the cars engine management system records everything that was going on at the time of a catastrophic failure. The engine management system also knows what functions were performing outside of the stock factory parameters. Therefore, even if the program is retuned to the stock configuration after using a turner, the system knows that something has been done.
[/quote]

Hi NuclearFusion. :wavey: Essentially yes, you are correct.

The PCM does have a limited amount of memory. This is why many aftermarket tuners will recommend that you reload your stock tune and drive it for at least 1 week before taking your car in for service. In this way they feel that the PCM will run out of memory and overwrite the stored aftermarket tune information (of course this is a simplified explanation).

As you correctly state, this is where the problems can occur. In the event of a catastrophic engine failure, you may be able to load the stock tune back into the PCM, but how do you drive the car for a week to overwrite the information stored in the PCM? The engine is toast. The car is not drivable!

Again, I am not telling people not to modify their cars, or how to modify them. I just want to warn people of the cons that are part of the pros of some modifications. Just want people to be aware of the possible Warranty ramifications.

Good luck! :cheers:
 

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deny it all and take them to court lol i doubt they will waste a large amount of many just to get out of fixing a problem that will cost them next to nothing
 

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Some other informative info from the filtercouncil.org

Technical Service Bulletin 85-1R2
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Manufacturers' Warranty
Consumer purchasers of filters are sometimes told that an aftermarket brand of replacement filter cannot be used in the consumer's vehicle during the warranty period. The claim is made that use of an aftermarket brand will "void the warranty," with the statement or implication that only the original equipment brand of filters may be used. This tends to cast doubt on the quality of the aftermarket filter.

That claim is simply not true. If the consumer asks for the statement in writing, they will not receive it. Nevertheless, the consumer may feel uneasy about using replacement filters that are not original equipment. With the large number of consumers who prefer to use an aftermarket filter this misleading statement should be addressed.

Under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Clean Air Act and general principles of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Act, a manufacturer may not require the use of any brand of filter (or any other article) unless the manufacturer provides the item free of charge under the terms of the warranty.

If the consumer is told that only the original equipment filter will not void the warranty, they should request that the OE filter be supplied free of charge. If they are charged for the filter, the manufacturer may be violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or other applicable law.

By providing this information to consumers, the members of the Filter Manufacturers Council (FMC) intend to combat the erroneous claim that the use of a brand of replacement filter other than original equipment will "void the warranty."


It should be noted that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a U.S. federal law that applies to consumer products. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has authority to enforce the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, including obtaining injunctions and orders containing affirmative relief. In addition, a consumer can bring suit under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.



For additional information, contact:

Filter Manufacturers Council
P.O. Box 13966
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3966
Phone: 919/406-8817 Fax: 919/406-1306
www.filtercouncil.org
Administered by Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
 

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Hey Herb, good to see you sharing your knowledge here. Does this pertain to oil too, or just filters in general?
 

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Hey gumper, No manufacture can tell you what brand oil you must use. Vehicle manufactures recommend lubricants according to their viscosity grade and service classification. ANY oil wheather its conventional petroleum motor oil or synthetic can be used.

Also, the practice of extending oil drain intervals does not void warranties. Original equipment manufactures pay or deny warranty claims based on the findings of failure analysis. To affect the vehicle warranty, the lubricant must be directly responsible for the failure. If the oil didn't causte the problemthe warranty cannot be voided, regardless of brand or length of time in use.
 

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Hell, my dealer installs Roush aftermarket systems for Mustangs and F150's all the time. Most of the mechanics that work there have Steeda or Roush stuff on THEIR personal cars. From what they tell me, and this is according to their dealership policy most likely, if you stick with the companies that do the R&R and make an aftermarket part that is absolutely safe for your vehicle, and another part fails, they cover the part that fails. I've got two mechanics who fight to service my car everytime I take it in for service because they want to see what I've done with it in the last 3 months.

Now, if you take a chinese Turbo and mod it to fit the vehicle and blow your engine, that's another story entirely. They'll do the following in this case:

1. Laugh at you.
2. Cry due to #1 above.
3. Piss their pants, again due to #1 above.
4. Laugh at you some more.
5. Get a manager to tell you that you just f-ed your car and you're paying the entire bill.
6. Give you the number to Ford Customer Service.
7. Laugh at you on your way out.

So, it's all about having a competent dealer that knows people aren't robots and want individuality and the freedom of expression in a responsible way with their vehicles that aren't built with such fragility like any of the Jap cars (Honda/Acura excluded).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi thereisnospoon. :wavey: No matter what any Dealership employee may say to the contrary (keep in mind that Dealership employees are not Ford Motor Company employees), the following is Ford's clear and official stance on the subject of modifications. Pay special attention to the bold sections:

To: All Ford and Lincoln Mercury Dealer Principals and Service Managers
Subject: Ford Motor Company Warranty Coverage Clarification

THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY POSITION ON VEHICLE MODIFICATIONS
We all want to do the right thing for our customers, and for the Ford Motor Company - that is why it is important to have a clear policy with regard to warranty administration. For vehicles that are not modified, the warranty policy is clear--we back our products within the guidelines of the new vehicle limited warranty, which is designed to protect the customer from defects in workmanship and/or material. However, in the case of vehicles that have been modified, the modifications may affect warranty coverage. This is because damage or failures of the new vehicle components CAUSED by modifications to the vehicle are not defects in "factory supplied" workmanship or material.

STATEMENTS OF COVERAGE
Ford states clearly in the Warranty Information Booklet provided with every new vehicle in the chapter "WHAT IS NOT COVERED?"

"Damage Caused By:

Non-Ford parts installed after the vehicle leaves Ford's control. For example, but not limited to, cellular phones, alarm systems, and automatic starting systems, and performance-enhancing powertrain chips"
And also in the chapter "OTHER ITEMS AND CONDITIONS NOT COVERED"
“Your New Vehicle Limited Warranty” also does not cover:

Non-Ford parts of your vehicle, for example, parts (including glass) installed by body builders or manufacturers other than Ford, or damage to Ford components caused by the installation of non-Ford parts other than "certified" emission parts.

TYPICAL MODIFICATIONS THAT MAY CAUSE WARRANTY DENIAL
Some non-Ford modifications that may cause damage to the vehicle for which warranty protection might be denied include:

Power chips or unauthorized re-programming of the module that modify the original powertrain calibrations, supercharger or turbo-charger installations, under drive pulleys to engine front accessory drives, transmission "shift kits," low restriction air intake and filter systems, low restriction exhaust systems, Nitrous Oxide systems (gas engines) and Propane systems (diesel engines), final drive axle ratio changes, alterations to fuel systems and wiring harnesses.

WARRANTY DENIAL
Although the installation of these non-Ford parts and after-market modifications, by themselves, will not void the New Vehicle Limited Warranty, failures of the vehicle's engine or transmission or other components that are the result of these parts and/or modifications may result in a denial of warranty for the Ford component that failed or damage that results.

DEALER INSTALLATION AND MARKETING OF THESE COMPONENTS, CLEAN AIR ACT
Dealers who are installing these power enhancement and unknown performance enhancing devices may incur the liability for the effect on federal and state emission compliance and should make customers aware that the addition of these devices may cause failures of drivetrain components that may not be covered under the Ford New Vehicle Warranty.
Section 203(a) of the Clean Air Act defines the prohibition against tampering with vehicle components that may effect emissions. Section 205 of the Clean Air Act defines dealer tampering as subject to civil penalty of up to $31,500 per violation.
Ford Motor Company strongly suggests that dealers do not install or market components that may cause damage to the vehicles components.

EFFECTS OF MODIFICATIONS ON PRIOR APPROVAL
Engine and Automatic transmission assembly replacements for which Ford Motor Company is participating in the repair (Bumper to Bumper, Service Part Warranty, and After Warranty Adjustments) require prior approval by the Ford Technical Service Hotline, with the exception of ESP and FSAs which may require separate approval. The Hotline Service Engineers are skilled and knowledgeable about the various kinds of non-Ford parts (and any parts - Ford or aftermarket - designated for "off road use only") and modifications that can potentially affect engine, transmission and other vehicle systems. Where evidence of such part or modifications exists and the failure or damage is the result of such part or modification - Warranty coverage will likely be denied for the repair.



The bottom line is this: Final approval for Warranty repairs are not up to individual Dealerships or Dealership employees. Ford Motor Company is footing the bill, and Ford Motor Company makes the final decision on all Warranty related matters.

Good luck. :cheers:
 

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Great info!! THANKS!!
 
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