OEM manufacturers and dealers would like you to think so, but it’s not that cut and dry. There is a very fine line here;...

OEM manufacturers and dealers would like you to think so, but it’s not that cut and dry. There is a very fine line here; while you may be led to believe that your machine’s warranty is void if any (unauthorized) modifications are made to it, the reality is warranty coverage can be denied ONLY if the part in question actually CAUSED the damage or malfunction for which warranty coverage was sought.

However, damage resulting from the removal of parts, improper repairs, service, maintenance, modifications, or use of parts not manufactured by the OEM or approved for the vehicle in question will NOT be covered under your warranty! But just because you make a modification does not AUTOMATICALLY render your warranty void, and this is where one usually gets into a pissing match.

We view these strong-arm tactics as little more than an attempt at intimidation than anything else. According to Christopher Kersting of the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), consumers are protected by the Magnusson-Moss Act. This federal law that states warranty coverage can NOT be denied by a vehicle dealer or manufacturer simply because non-OEM parts and accessories have been installed. Again, warranty coverage can be denied only if the part in question actually caused the damage or malfunction for which warranty coverage was sought. Kersting states a “cause-and-effect” relationship must exist, and the burden of proof rests not with the vehicle owner but with the manufacturer or dealer.

This is the exact same law that allows you to use whatever injection oil you want to, but be warned, if you try to file a warranty claim for damage that is lubrication related, don’t be surprised when you are denied!

Engine mods and track studding are where we see conflicts most often. A guy installs go fast parts and the engine goes down. If the parts caused the failure, warranty can be denied. But if you’re told the warranty is denied simply because you made mods, we have a problem!

Now for some common sense. Many (not all) warranty claims being made of this nature are a matter of outright and deliberate dishonesty. For example, some guy knows full well his carb jetting was too lean for the very cold morning and sticks a piston, but quick installs the stock jetting and takes his sled into the dealer. “I just don’t know what happened!”, he proclaims. How is the manufacturer responsible for this? They’re not; the vehicle was calibrated outside of their recommended specifications. Or, you run the sled out of injection oil and stick a piston. You add some oil to the tank and take it in, hoping for a freebie. Did you think about all of the air in the oil lines that’ll tell the dealer what you’re up to? Hello?

A warranty is intended to “make right” something that is wrong. It is not intended to be a period of “free service”. An OEM knows how their product is supposed to work, as tested, in a particular configuration. They can not be expected to be held responsible for every possibility of stupidity during the warranty period. But on the other hand they can not take the position that any mod voids all warranty. Federal law protects you from this.

Just like insurance scams, everyone ultimately ends up paying for this through higher prices. The manufacturers are stepping up their denial of stupidity-caused and modification-induced failures, as they rightfully should, due to the increase in dishonest and bogus claims. Yet it is the dealer network that is supposed to filter as much of this out as they can, and many times they’re just as guilty as the consumer in trying to “get it covered”. Everyone involved needs to accept responsibility for their actions and not try to blame someone else.

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