You may have never heard of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, but you probably know about it under a different name. It’s often called the “federal lemon law,” and it regulates warranties on consumer products. That includes smaller items in your home and the thing most associated with lemon laws — your car. Here are the basics on how the law works and how it protects you as a consumer.
What Is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act?
This federal law was signed in 1975. It’s a way of ensuring that consumers fully understand the warranties on the products they purchase, and it prevents deceptive warranty practices.
The law requires warranties to be very detailed, with a clear breakdown of exactly what is and isn’t covered. It also ensures that warranties include information on what the consumer needs to do when they want to make a claim, and it gives certain legal rights if things in the car go wrong.
What Are Your Responsibilities?
Even if your car has a warranty, that doesn’t mean you can ignore problems or neglect routine maintenance. It’s important to service your car at the manufacturer-recommended intervals and to make any necessary repairs in a timely manner.
Let’s say you can’t be bothered to change your oil and then the engine fails. Not having done the scheduled oil changes gives the manufacturer the legal right to void that part of your warranty. The easiest solution is to regularly service your car rather than let basic maintenance fall by the wayside.
This is a common misconception. You absolutely can do routine maintenance on your own car rather than taking it into the dealership. Feel free to change your own oil, rotate your tires and even do repairs like fixing your brakes. All you need to do is keep the receipts for any work you perform, so that you have them on hand in case you need to make a claim.
What About Outside Mechanics?
They can work on your car, too, and that won’t void your warranty either. Whether it’s routine maintenance or a repair, feel free to have the work done by a mechanic you know and trust. Just like doing the work yourself, however, you need to hold on to any receipts so that you can prove the work was done.
What Does Void the Warranty?
As already mentioned, slacking on routine maintenance can void all or part of your warranty when things go wrong. The other way to void your warranty is to do something with your car that the manufacturer does not recommend or that conflicts with specifications for maintenance.
To give you some examples of what to do and what not to do: Always use the recommended fluids. The wrong oil, for example, can cause engine problems and void your warranty. If you tow, don’t exceed the tow ratings. Doing so can cause damage to your car and void your warranty at the same time.
Also, be careful about the kinds of aftermarket parts you choose. You can install these on your vehicle, but if the automaker determines that they caused a problem, then you may be responsible for paying for repairs.
Keep your receipts and follow recommended guidelines for maintenance and your car warranty will serve you well.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Law, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Nicole Wakelin.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.