At BRracing, we get questions all the time about whether having work done at an independent shop, or the installation of alternative parts, affects their car warranty.  Here is another release from the FTC to alert consumers on the rules relative to warranties –

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the federal government’s consumer protection agency, has released another consumer alert – “How to Steer Clear of Auto Warranty Scams to educate people on auto warranties and to ensure consumers get the most out of their warranties.

The first consumer alert was issued in December 2010, and was titled Auto Warranties, Routine Maintenance and Repairs: Is Using the Dealer a Must?” It focused on the provisions of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the protections it provides the motoring public. In the most recent consumer alert, the FTC clarifies with consumers that it is illegal for manufacturers and dealers to refuse a warranty or deny coverage to someone due to someone other than the dealer repairing their car.

The FTC offered the following example to clarify repairs for consumers: “If an independent mechanic improperly replaced a belt and the engine is damaged as a result, a manufacturer or dealer may only deny responsibility for fixing the engine under the warranty after demonstrating that the improper belt replacement – rather than some other defect – caused the engine damage. However, the warranty would still be in effect for other parts of the car.”

The same is true for aftermarket parts originating from a company other than the vehicle manufacturer or the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The only time a manufacturer can deny warranty coverage is when the aftermarket equipment used was proven to have caused the damage being repaired.

The FTC website,, also includes the following tips for consumers:

  • Read the warranty on the car, or check the “Owners” section of the manufacturer’s website.
  • Know when the warranty period ends, and get any problems that arise checked out prior to this time.
  • Regularly service your vehicle, abiding by the manufacturer’s suggested service schedule.
  • Keep all service records and receipts, regardless of who performs the service, including oil changes, tire rotations, belt replacement, new brake pads and inspections. These receipts may be necessary in the future to prove that the vehicle was properly maintained.
  • Make a statement if you believe your warranty claim has been denied unfairly. Speak to a supervisor at the dealership, then go to the manufacturer or another dealer. Consider filing a complaint with the state attorney general, local consumer protection office, local Better Business Bureau or the FTC.

The FTC website offers information regarding complaint filing and receiving information about other related issues.