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Warranties and the Magnuson-Moss Act
A. While AMSOIL is not being specifically attacked in this case, the letter and response do reveal a situation where an OEM is apparently trying to tie in the use of its products to maintaining a warranty. Tie-ins are specifically prohibited and are considered a deceptive practice under the Magnusson-Moss Act. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes a booklet called “A Businessperson's Guide to Federal Warranty Law” (available online at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/warranty.shtm#Magnuson-Moss) that clearly explains some of the features of the Act. Here are some excerpts (highlighting added):
What the Magnuson-Moss Act Does Not Allow
The Code of Federal Regulations (16 CFR 700.10, available at http://www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cfrassemble.cgi?title=200716) (highlighting added) similarly says:
The highlighted section of the FTC booklet clearly says that you can’t require a purchaser to buy a manufacturer’s oil in order to maintain the warranty (whether on the engine, transmission or primary chain case). There are only two exceptions (1) you can require the use of a specific oil to maintain a warranty if you provide it free of charge (CFR) or (2) you can apply for an FTC waiver because your oil, and only your oil, would work in the specific application (US Code). We are not aware of any such free product nor of an FTC waiver application by Harley Davidson, and would aggressively oppose such application based upon the superior performance of our motorcycle oil in available and applicable industry tests. (See Motorcycle Oils white paper)
It is our position that the answer provided by the Enthusiast editor is incorrectly stated and misleading. We have sent a letter to the Enthusiast, asking for a correction. We stand behind our recommendations for the use of AMSOIL motorcycle oils and other fluids as recommended in this chart: HD application chart. Based upon the Magnusson-Moss Act (and similar deceptive trade practices law in other countries), use of AMSOIL will not in and of itself void any manufacturer’s warranty.
AMSOIL extended intervals will not void warranties.
When AMSOIL INC. introduced the first 100 percent synthetic motor oil to pass American Petroleum Institute (API) service requirements in 1972, it set all new standards for quality and performance in the world of automotive lubrication. However AMSOIL synthetic motor oils were ahead of their time. At first, vehicle manufactures and customers did not know what to think. Could this new synthetic motor oil really outperform the petroleum products they had been using all their lives? What followed was a lot of confusion over warranty coverage. Many unsure manufactures and dealers told customers that use of synthetic lubricants could void their vehicle warranties.
The federal Magnuson-Moss Act of 1975, enacted to regulate written consumer product warranties, helped ease consumer concerns over voided warranties. The Magnuson-Moss Act does not require manufacturers to provide a warranty, but sets specific rules when one is provided.
You have a customer who ’s interested in AMSOIL motor oil, but he’s concerned that using a synthetic oil or extending his oil drain interval will void his warranty.
Your customer has no need for concern. Congress in 1975 enacted the federal Magnuson-Moss Act to regulate written consumer product warranties. An examination of the law reveals warranties remain intact when AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants are used.
The law was meant to give consumers detailed information about warranty coverage before they buy.
Congress charged the Federal Trade Commission with creation of the specifics of the law.
The FTC set down three rules under the Act: the Disclosure Rule, the Pre-Sale Availability Rule and the Dispute Resolution Rule.
Those rules require warrantors to title their written warranty as either “full ” or “limited,” provide a single, clear and easy-to-read document that spells out certain information about coverage and ensure that warranties are available where the products are sold so that consumers can read them before buying.
In passing the Act, Congress meant to give consumers access to warranty information, let consumers comparison shop for warranties, encourage warranty competition and promote timely and complete performance of warranty obligations.
While the Magnuson-Moss Act does not require manufacturers to provide a written warranty, it provides specific rules when one is provided. Among those provisions, FTC regulations state: “(c) No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer’s using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name; except that the prohibition of this subsection may be waived by the Commission if – ((1)the warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with the warranted product, and (2) the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest.” ((42 U.S.C.2302(C))
That means your warranty stands when you use AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants.
Vehicle manufacturers recommend lubricants according to their viscosity grade and service classification. Any oil, whether it ’s conventional petroleum motor oil or synthetic, meeting the correct viscosity grade,5W-30 for example, and the current API SL and ILSAC GF-3 North American service classifications may be used without affecting warranty coverage. AMSOIL motor oils are recommended for use in applications requiring these specifications. For more information on API licensing, go to “Ask AMSOIL” in the Dealer Zone.
Furthermore, the practice of extending oil drain intervals does not void warranties. Original equipment manufacturers pay or deny warranty claims based on the findings of failure analysis. To affect the vehicle warranty, the lubricant must be directly responsible for the failure. If the oil didn’t cause the problem the warranty cannot be voided, regardless of brand or length of time in use.
Synthetic motor oil was introduced to the automotive public in 1972 by AMSOIL, INC., with the world ’s first API rated synthetic motor oil – specially formulated for long service and superior performance and protection to that of conventional oils.
Nearly 30 years ago, AMSOIL synthetics represented a vision of the future and technology ahead of their time. Since then, every major engine oil manufacturer has introduced synthetic oils of their own. To be sure, many original equipment manufacturers would like you to believe you can only use their products. However, it ’s a violation of the consumer protections set forth in the Magnuson-Moss Act, unless they ’re willing to provide you those products free of charge.
AMSOIL offers a warranty that covers the cost of repair or replacement of a proven mechanically sound engine damaged as a result of using AMSOIL synthetic motor oil. However, it has never happened. Thirty years of experience proves AMSOIL can be installed in any vehicle with complete confidence.
AMSOIL further backs its products with action when a Dealer or customer reports being told their warranty is voided if they use synthetics.
If you have heard from any member of a business that the use of AMSOIL Motor Oil or the practice of extending drain intervals will void warranties, send AMSOIL all the details including the name of the business, business owner or manager and the individual making the claims, in a signed and dated letter. Send the letter to the Technical Services Department at corporate headquarters and an AMSOIL representative will send them a letter explaining the facts.
Access to the complete Magnuson-Moss Act is available on the Internet by key words “Magnuson-Moss Act ” or “Federal Trade Commission.”
Follow AMSOIL's Extended Intervals, save yourself money and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
One Dealers method of helping customers over the fear factor.
One of the most common “Fear Factors” that AMSOIL Dealers face is how to deal with warranty concerns. Often times, prospects will be reluctant to try AMSOIL products for fear that they may void their warranty. Manufacturers’ warranties are often worded in a way in which the consumer is led to believe that they must use a certain product or risk voiding their protection. In reality, manufacturers warranties are based upon the use of oils meeting or exceeding specific minimum API (American Petroleum Institute) service classifications. AMSOIL lubricants meet the current API service requirements and therefore, are perfectly suited for use in any new vehicle without affecting the applicability of the new vehicle warranty. Despite these facts, warranty is still a very sticky issue with most consumers and AMSOIL Dealers should develop strategies to help prospects overcome this obstacle.
More and more AMSOIL Dealers are citing the Magnuson-Moss Act as a means of helping skeptical prospects overcome the warranty fear factor. Enacted in 1975, the Magnuson-Moss Act states that a vehicle manufacturer may not make its vehicle warranty conditional on the use of any brand of product unless the manufacturer provides the product free of charge or the Federal Trade Commission has specifically published that only the vehicle manufacturer’s product may be used.
Needless-to-say, most consumers are not aware of the Magnuson-Moss Act. Some AMSOIL Dealers are meeting this challenge head on. A Direct Jobber from California is turning more and more to the Magnuson-Moss Act as a means of squelching people’s fears on the warranty issue. This D.J. always carries a copy of the Magnuson-Moss Act with him. “The real challenge lies with people dealing with aftermarket extended warranties,” he said. “They can write their own rules and scare consumers into just about anything.”
He feels the important point to make when using the Magnuson-Moss Act to combat the warranty issue is to make consumers understand that the burden of proof lies with the manufacturer. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) pay or deny warranty claims based on the findings of failure analysis. To affect the vehicle warranty, the lubricant must be directly responsible for the failure. If the oil did not cause the problem the warranty cannot be voided, regardless of the brand of oil used, or the length of time or number of miles the oil was used. To flatly inform the customer that the use of AMSOIL synthetic motor oil voids their vehicle warranty is not true.
Another AMSOIL Direct Jobber from Canada tries to educate people ahead of time when it comes to warranty concerns. This Dealer makes reference to the Magnuson-Moss Act even though it’s a United States federal law. “Most Canadians don’t know the Magnuson-Moss Act applies only in the states,” he said. “If the Act applies in the U.S. it stands to reason that Canada should have the same coverage.”
He feels the best way to protect yourself when it comes to warranty issues is to do oil analysis and put the information on file. That’s what he does with his own vehicles. “This provides peace of mind”, he said. “Warranties are there to protect the manufacturer a lot more than the consumer. It’s important that we educate the public on this matter.”
Many AMSOIL Dealers have also dealt with motorcycle riders who are wrestling with the warranty issue. Harley Davidson has created the impression that if you are a rider who uses any oil besides Harley- Davidson oil, you will void your warranty. Many motorcycle shops believe this to be the case, although a recent magazine article states "in a pinch Harley-Davidson recommends that a rider use one of the API C category oils as a substitute for Harley-Davidson 360." Nevertheless, the impression is out there that the warranty will be voided if you use another product, and since the bike has cost a good chunk of change, no one really wants to gamble with that much money on the table.
Armed with the Magnuson-Moss Act and the new re-formulated AMSOIL motorcycle oils, Dealers have the tools necessary in helping riders overcome this fear factor. AMSOIL motorcycle oils provide second to-none protection for motorcycle engines, transmission and primary chain cases. The improved corrosion protection, heat resistance and foam control of these oils, make these products the smart choice for any motorcycle rider.
AMSOIL Synthetic Motorcycle Oils also provide excellent cost effectiveness and are cost competitive with competing high-end motorcycle oils. The unmatched protection and performance provided by AMSOIL Motorcycle Oils is excellent insurance for today’s expensive motorcycles and custom bikes.
Note from Ches Cain: And according to the thousands of motorcycle customers of mine there is not one bike out there operating to their full potential until the operator consummates the use of AMSOIL. The Corporate office at AMSOIL believes in giving the consumer the purest of quality - thus the difference. Very few products exist today which succeed complete based on results. And our competitors know it!
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