Magnuson Moss – Protection for Consumers and Installers
The search for a new car or truck can be a stressful experience. After all, it is a big purchase for many people and it’s a decision that most of us have to live with for at least a few years. Taking care of that nice new ride shouldn’t stress anyone out though. Sadly, that’s not always the case. One reason for this is the misinformation and confusion about who should be servicing new vehicles and with what parts. We recently responded to a concerned customer who was told by their Hyundai dealer that they could not use an aftermarket oil filter in their late model Hyundai without affecting the powertrain warranty. Of course, we know this isn’t true, so we took some time and carefully explained the protection that consumers have in these situations.
If you find yourself with a customer who is uneasy about the idea of using aftermarket parts to service their vehicle, you can confidently tell them that NO they are not at any risk for voiding their warranty with the use of any aftermarket parts. Since 1975, consumers have had the right to use aftermarket auto parts in their vehicles, whether through self-service or professional installation, without concern that vehicle warranties might be affected in any way. This didn’t stop some manufacturers who have recently tried and failed to force customers into using only OEM parts. Yes, we’re talking to you Hyundai and Kia.
The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act of 1975
Perhaps Hyundai forgot about the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, which was enacted in 1975 and governs warranties for consumer products – automobiles included. Magnuson Moss was passed as a result of manufacturers using warranty disclaimers in an unfair or misleading manner.
This is exactly the type of warranty disclaimer Hyundai and Kia tried to leverage when dealing with their Theta II Engine problems which started in 2011. In a recent class-action lawsuit, Hyundai and Kia were accused of covering up a critical issue with their Theta II engines by shifting the blame to aftermarket products and the professional installers using them. The problem wasn’t the aftermarket oil filters being used by installers but was actually proven to be a critical engine design flaw.
Here’s the problem text from the disclaimer:
“…the use of Hyundai Genuine Parts is required to keep your Hyundai manufacturers’ warranties and any extended warranties intact”.
What Hyundai is saying is that to be covered under their warranty, consumers are required to buy and use only Hyundai specific parts. If this was allowed, the company would have a monopoly – eliminating the need for aftermarket parts manufacturers and service providers.
The FTC Issues a Compliance Warning to Hyundai
In April of 2018, the FTC issued compliance warnings to six major companies, citing violations of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. In the letter, the FTC noted that Hyundai was in violation because the act forbids tie-in sales of branded products and services as a condition of warranty coverage. Thomas B. Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said,
“Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services.”
Hyundai has since revised the warranty language to say:
“Also, while the use of Hyundai Genuine Parts is not required to keep your Hyundai manufacturer warranties, should damage result from the use or installation of non-Hyundai Genuine Parts, Hyundai or its authorized dealers would have the right to deny warranty coverage for that part and charge you for any repairs.”
Prior to this revision, Hyundai would deny a warranty claim for the simple fact that a consumer used aftermarket parts or installers, regardless of whether or not the use of that part was relevant to the issue a consumer was facing. This caused problems for consumers who would try to utilize the seemingly great powertrain warranty offered by Hyundai.
Unfortunately, the misinformation surrounding this unfortunate issue continues to cause problems for some consumers. As we mentioned earlier, the FTC compliance warning that Hyundai received was issued back in April. The customer we spoke with had their incident with the dealer later in the spring. Evidence that some still haven’t received or are choosing to ignore the FTC’s message.
If you encounter a customer in a similar situation, we recommend explaining to them that it is absolutely safe to use aftermarket parts in place of genuine OEM parts. Magnuson Moss was created not only to protect the consumer but to also protect the business of the professional installer.
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