Buying a vehicle sparks creativity in some people. This often pushes them to place their personal marks on their cars. Modifying your car can make it stand out.
However, it’s a good idea to talk to your car warranty provider before making any modifications to your vehicle. Your vehicle and your pocket can suffer if your car’s modifications void your warranty.
Possible Modifications and Voiding Your New Car Warranty
Modifying your muscle car can be problematic if you overdo it. This makes you wonder what kind of modifications your vehicle can receive while keeping your new warranty intact. Many people believe that any changes to a car will nullify its warranty. The truth is that there will only be a partial or full void if the repairs are caused by a modification after the car’s manufacture.
Any change with approved parts, performed by an approved car engineer, will not nullify your car warranty. Calling your provider first to double-check the modification is important. This is the only way to clarify if the modifications will cancel your existing warranty. This will save you a huge headache when your car breaks down.
Keeping Things Legal
Legal restrictions can guide you in modifying your vehicle. Anything illegal will risk dissolving your car warranty. Putting neon lights under the car will be illegal if their brightness can cause accidents. Enormous exhaust systems can go against the laws for fuel emission and noise pollution.
Similarly, extremely dark tints on the windscreen and front windows go against road regulations. The light should have a transmission of only up to 75% through your windscreen and 70% through your front windows.
Warranty providers allow some modifications to vehicles. The modifications listed below will not nullify your warranty. This is only true if you use certified fittings and approved parts.
- Most fuel upgrades
- Enlarging brake discs
- Engine cryo treatments
- Silencer upgrade on the exhaust
- Appropriately fitted and legal-sized spoilers
- Legally opaque window tints
- Legally formatted changes in number plates
There are plenty of modifications you can do without voiding your warranty. In most cases, you can install new coilovers and struts, upgrade to a cat-back exhaust, and use lighter wheels without worrying about your car’s warranty. Modifications to the car’s aesthetics and handling are likely to be safe as well.
Modifications Resulting in a Canceled Car Warranty
Getting a modern car involves dealing with complex software and hardware systems. A car warranty can make your car ownership stress-free. Unfortunately, many car owners end up making mistakes in modifying their cars.
Here are some modifications that will likely void your car’s warranty.
1. Modifying the car’s structure
Changing your car’s physical structure will void your car warranty. Each vehicle has its own original design and functions. Modifying a car’s original structure will also change how the vehicle can protect you and your passengers upon impact.
2. Electrical modifications
Installing powerful headlamps, music systems, or fog lamps from unauthorized sources will nullify your electrical warranty plan. These unapproved parts can cause failure in the vehicle. Aftermarket car parts stores use couplers to maintain the integrity of the original wiring. This could still cancel your warranty plan.
3. Engine retuning and change
Your new car’s engine is registered with the regional transport office. Changing the car’s source of power will most likely void your warranty plan. The same thing happens if you retune your engine control unit. This may bring more power to your car but it will void your plan.
4. Irregular maintenance and service
While it’s not strictly a modification, failing to meet the manufacturer’s recommendations for service and maintenance intervals will result in the loss of your car warranty. The provider will also void your warranty if you choose to go to an unauthorized service center.
Moreover, your engine warranty will dissolve if your use different engine oil. Unapproved or fake parts can also dissolve your coverage.
5. Altering the odometer
It should come as no surprise that messing with the odometer will cancel your car’s warranty. In some cases, the odometer is altered to hide a vehicle’s true mileage from the dealer. The dealer may also deny coverage if a car owner fails to replace a damaged odometer.
How the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act Affects Car Modifications
In 1975, the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act was passed into federal law. This act requires distributors and manufacturers to provide detailed and clear information about the coverage of warranties. More importantly, this act prohibits vehicle manufacturers from denying coverage just because a car owner installed aftermarket parts.
Under this act, vehicle manufacturers must prove that the aftermarket parts were the causes of the vehicle’s failure. In such cases, manufacturers can deny coverage. Manufacturers typically deny coverage if an aftermarket part had a defect or damaged another section of the vehicle. Denial of coverage also occurs if the replacement part was installed improperly. However, the warranty should be honored if the vehicle modification did not cause the damage.
As such, accessorizing your car with certain aftermarket parts will not cancel your car warranty. This will not happen either if you attach or connect non-OEM parts to your car.
Buying a Car with Modifications
Your warranty will stay intact if the modifications were specified during the span of the new car warranty. Taking out an extended warranty on the modified car you bought is possible. You merely need to disclose all the details of the vehicle modifications. You also want to ask the previous owner about the warranties on the aftermarket parts installed. Doing an independent inspection of a used car before buying it is also a good idea.
Customizing Your Car
Adding custom-fit accessories to your car will not cancel its warranty. Your modifications will receive your provider’s approval if you stay with a reputable car shop that uses authorized parts. Keeping all the maintenance and service records will help with your claim as well. Just make your vehicle will not be damaged because of the modifications and your warranty will be fine.
Consulting Your Warranty Provider
Talking to your warranty provider must come before planning any vehicle modification. Your warranty company can give you advice about using certified engineers and authorized parts. This is an important step to ensure the validity of your claim.
Following the Laws and Rules Will Keep Your Car Warranty Valid
A new car has the protection of a manufacturer’s warranty. Giving it a unique look and feel is still possible if you hire reputable professionals who use accepted parts. Staying away from over-modification can also keep your car warranty valid.
The last thing you want is to be carried away with the changes and end up paying out-of-pocket for sudden repairs. Working with your provider will ensure that your warranty remains intact after vehicle modification.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.