Understanding the Magnuson-Moss Act as it Relates to Aftermarket Car Parts

If you’ve ever customized your vehicle with aftermarket car parts, or you often work with people who do, you might have heard that it’s possible to have your warranty cancelled because of the parts you’ve installed. Is this fact or fiction? In truth, it’s a little bit of both. Auto industry workers and car enthusiasts alike should know about the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and how it affects vehicles that have been modified with aftermarket parts.

What is the Act?

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, passed by Congress in 1975, 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 consumer 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 the Act. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has since been reminding consumers of their rights to install aftermarket parts without fear of having their warranties voided.

How does it apply to car parts?

According to the Magnuson-Moss Act, a vehicle manufacturer cannot automatically cancel your warranty just because you’ve installed aftermarket car parts. This is 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.

What does it mean for consumers?

Let’s say your windshield wipers broke and you decided to replace them with aftermarket windshield wipers from a different manufacturer. Your car’s warranty doesn’t get cancelled or voided, and your warranty claim can’t be denied, just because they aren’t Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. When you later take your car to the dealership because your air conditioner stopped working, for example, the dealer can only deny your warranty claim if they prove that your aftermarket windshield wipers caused your AC to stop working. Since it’s not the most likely scenario, you would probably still be covered under your car’s warranty.

What can consumers do to protect their rights?

The Act made it easier for consumers to compare warranty coverage between products before they buy. You should absolutely take advantage of your right to compare warranties and make sure you’re getting the best deal on your vehicle, parts, and accessories. When you decide to modify your car with aftermarket parts, make sure you do your research on the most reputable brands and carefully follow the installation instructions. It’s also important to work with a dealer that will respond to your warranty issues properly and efficiently.

The Magnuson-Moss Act is supported by the FTC and the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), which supports legislation that protects consumer rights and prevents the denial of warranty coverage. The attorneys at BRADFORD, LTD are also closely involved with SEMA and their efforts to represent aftermarket wholesalers, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers. Give us a call to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer who understands the automotive industry from top to bottom. We will make sure you have the legal tools you need to foster growth and success in your business.

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Bradford LTD specializes in IP protections and maximization for startups and small businesses. We also provide scaled legal services to our clients, including fractional legal counsel and value-based rates. From trademark, copyright and service mark protections to patent protection and outside inside counsel, we help position entrepreneurs and owners for long-term success.

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