Does Modifying My Car Void My Warranty?
One of the reasons to buy a new Mustang is the Ford-backed warranty included with your purchase. This coverage adds peace-of-mind and wallet protection as you enjoy America’s favorite sports car. Somewhere along the way during this ownership process, you consider customizing your Mustang. In addition to figuring out the mechanical and appearance modifications, you wonder, “Will this void my warranty?” It’s a common question.
In this article, we’ll review new car warranty coverage, what you’re permitted to do under this warranty, and answers to frequently asked questions. This information is not legal advice but an overview of essential things for you to know.
What Is A New Car Warranty?
Let’s begin with the fundamentals. In the case of a new car, a warranty is a promise made by the vehicle manufacturer to correct certain defects or product failures during a set period of time. Through the warranty, the manufacturer agrees to pay for any covered replacement parts and repairs during the warranty period.
For most new Fords, including the Mustang, the new car warranty lasts for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first: this is commonly called a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty. In other words, it covers almost everything except for maintenance-related services. Ford also provides powertrain coverage (for the engine, transmission, and related components) for five years or 60,000 miles. There are separate warranties that cover tires, body corrosion, and emissions. Also, your state may mandate additional warranty coverage.
Will Using Aftermarket Mustang Parts Void The Warranty?
The short answer is “no,” Ford won’t void the warranty. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act “makes it illegal for companies to void your warranty or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you used an aftermarket or recycled part.” The full text of the law is available to review online. In the case of a warranty claim paid by the manufacturer, the company can specify what parts to use.
Issues with aftermarket parts arise if these components are defective or installed incorrectly AND cause damage to another warranty-covered part. In these situations, the manufacturer or dealer has the right to deny warranty coverage for the affected part and charge you for related repairs. The FTC says, “the manufacturer or dealer must show that the aftermarket or recycled part caused the need for repairs before denying warranty coverage.”
But remember that “bad” Mustang mods can void the warranty. The best way to avoid these situations is to source your replacement components from a professional supplier, ensure installations are performed by a qualified expert, and use quality parts designed specifically for your Mustang. Also, check the Mustang parts warranty offered by your component supplier.
Does The Dealer Have To Service My Mustang To Keep The Warranty Valid?
The answer here is another no. Any independent service chain or mechanic can work on your car. You can even do maintenance and repairs yourself. Again, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects your rights by making it illegal for a manufacturer to deny a warranty claim--or even void the entire warranty--just because you or a third party performed work. The manufacturer can designate who performs the repairs for no-charge warranty work--typically, this is the dealer.
Keep in mind that in some situations, warranty coverage may not apply. The FTC cites an example where a belt is improperly installed by you or your mechanic resulting in damage to the engine. In this case, the manufacturer can deny any warranty claim for the engine repair. The manufacturer must prove that the improper belt replacement, not some other issue, caused the engine damage.
This also means that if the manufacturer can demonstrate an improper repair in one area of your car, the warranty will still be in effect elsewhere. In other words, engine problems caused by that improper belt replacement doesn’t mean that the manufacturer can deny a warranty claim for a malfunctioning audio system.
Can Anything Else Void My Mustang Warranty?
Operating your Mustang outside of regular use or exposing the car to unusual conditions can be a reason for Ford to void your new car warranty. These situations can include:
- Driving off-road, including across extreme surfaces
- Driving recklessly or in a race (track or street)
- Loading the car with too much passenger/cargo weight
- Exposing the car to flooding, fire, or other disasters
- Improper car maintenance
- Using incorrect fluids
How Can I Avoid Any Warranty Problems?
Read Your Warranty Coverage: This information will be given to you by the dealer at purchase time. The booklet will be about 50 pages long and be included with the owner’s manual and other operating instructions. You don’t need to memorize the warranty coverage, but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your coverage’s basic details.
Know The Warranty Period: Warranty coverage begins when you take possession of the car or the day the vehicle first entered service (if you’re buying a loaner car or factory-certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle). Warranty coverage may also expire early if you have a lot of miles on your Mustang. Be sure to have the dealer look at any potential problems before the end of the warranty coverage.
Observe The Maintenance Schedule: Diligently follow the maintenance schedule that Ford recommends for your car. This includes using the recommended materials and fluids. This information will be in the owner’s manual or a separate pamphlet.
Keep Records: Maintain a file with all your receipts and other maintenance records. This information should contain what service or repair was performed, who provided the service, what types of materials were used, and when service was conducted. These records should reflect all the work done on your car, including oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and inspections. Be sure to include information on any work you perform yourself.
What Should I Do If I Have A Warranty Problem?
If you face any issue with your Mustang’s warranty coverage, consider the following steps to take.
- Talk With The Dealer: Your first step is working with your local Ford dealer. If your service advisor can’t help address your warranty situation, go up the chain to the service department manager and the dealership’s general manager.
- Contact Ford: If the dealer’s actions prove unsatisfactory, ask the dealer for contact information for Ford’s zone representative. This person is trained to deal with consumers’ escalated warranty claims. You can also contact Ford directly via the toll-free consumer line.
- Seek Governmental Help: You can seek additional warranty assistance through your local consumer protection agency or your state’s attorney general.