August 3, 2017 - by
If you plan on keeping your car for a long time there’s no chance you willingly void your warranty. And yet, many drivers end up doing so, often times because they didn’t know what would void it. It’s helpful to realize the terms of every automaker, dealer and third-part warranty are different for each vehicle and owner. Today we’re looking at the common action that results in a voided car warranty or disqualify you from coverage: vehicle modification
Will Car Modifications Void Your Warranty?
Most new and certified pre-owned car warranties are built on an agreement where both parties (you and the company providing coverage) have certain obligations. A consumer, you have many legal safeguards against arbitrary decisions on the part of the car makers and vice versa.
Most car gear heads operate under the belief that ANY modifications will void a warranty, the truth is a little less cut and dry. In fact, SOME modifications won’t void a warranty unless an automaker or a dealer can prove that the aftermarket part in question actually caused the need for repairs. In other words, your warranty will still be valid when your radiator springs a leak, even if you’ve added a new spoiler.
Now keep in mind that this is pure gray area, and more than you might expect. For instance, sometimes the “wrong” combination of few aftermarket parts can cause engine failure just as easily as the “right” ones can improve them. Either way, we’d bet that most automaker won’t want to take the risk of paying a completely new engine if there’s any chance that the old one’s failure due to a driver’s aftermarket add-ons.
So we, as a warranty company, would greatly advise that you take special consideration when shopping for a vehicle. If major modifications are something you are interested in keep in mind that most companies will look to those if your car has issues. In some cases that means you might not be covered for certain necessary repairs.
Which Modifications Are Safe?
There’s no real way to know when and how parts might someday fail and to which degree but experts can give estimates. However, there are some aftermarket modifications that are unlikely to void your warranty:
- Upgraded wheels – Not the most glamorous of upgrades and it doesn’t improve speed per se. However, changing up your wheels can give you an upgrade in style without risking your car mechanically. Keep in mind that things like the weight or size and even the material in your new set of wheels can affect things but it is uncommon for any major issues to arise.
- Upgrades from the manufacturer – Just don’t do it yourself. It’s that simple. Most automakers are not in the habit of selling major performance upgrades or aftermarket mods. However a few makes do. Even when they sell them they are usually upgrades and accessories that won’t void your warranty. especially if they offer it as an option for your specific make/model. This can some automakers make is so that superchargers, cold-air intake, new fuel injectors and gearboxes come as genuine options upon purchase or ownership. These days trim modifications for the body are widely available from most automakers. . Automakers tend to charge more for aftermarket upgrades that third parties but the trade off is that they keep your warranty valid since you’re buying direct from them and letting them install them.
- NOTE: Keep in mind that that the above also applies to any and all ods also installed by manufacturer-approved dealer & shops. It is wise to check in with your automakers if you wish to buy or install any upgrades. . They will tell you what can and can’t be installed without voiding warranty coverage.
Be Smart, What NOT to do:
- Don’t install any unproven parts
- Don’t install anything from a brand you’re not sure about
- Don’t use non-conventional tire/wheel combinations or modify the suspension
- Don’t “chip” your car: Once upon a time, Ford issued a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) regarding blown head gaskets on 6.0 Powerstroke turbo diesel engines in F series pickups (2005 and up). So what happened? It turns out that power chips were installed to boost engine output. This piece of tech increases engine power by modifying the drivability and engine management parameters. Cars are programmed to operate a certain way and can be modified but in almost all cases where cars that do this are in need of repair, the claims were denied and engine warranties were voided. All companies are well within their right to deny claims and void engine warranties.
Now, this is a lot more complex a topic than we are giving credit, and there are infinite other actions that would result in voiding part or all of your new car warranty. The simple matter is this: before doing ANY modification or using ANY products or services other than OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) recommendations, as specified by the carmaker, check with your car dealer before proceeding.