Warranties and the Magnuson-Moss Act

I have just added the following ahead of the main material on this page to show you a recent customer complaint regarding “Warranty and Compliance”

The answer from the OEM simply under minds the rights of the consumer. The statement actually puts the manufacturer in a position where an ACT is violated AND to follow the law based on their statement – they must offer their product free of charge as it is the ONLY one which will not impact the warranty. Read on…

Q. AMSOIL, what is your position on the following Q & A in the recent Harley Davidson Enthusiast magazine:

“I own a 2007 FLHX. My owner’s manual specifies only one fluid for the transmission and primary case: Formula+. I want to change both my tranny and primary case fluids to SYN3 because of the superior film strength and wear protection of synthetic lubricants at high temperatures. Would I void the warranty if this lubricant is not specified in the H-D owner’s manual?”

“SYN3 is the only synthetic motor oil that does not impact your 24-month, unlimited-mile factory warranty. And switching to SYN3 is easy because it isn’t necessary to flush the compartments.  Simply drain and refill. -Ed.”

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
There are three prohibitions under the Magnuson-Moss Act. They involve implied warranties, so-called “tie-in sales” provisions, and deceptive or misleading warranty terms….

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:

(a) Section 102(c) prohibits tying arrangements that condition coverage under a written warranty on the consumer’s use of an article or service identified by brand, trade, or corporate name unless that article or service is provided without charge to the consumer.
(b) Under a limited warranty that provides only for replacement of defective parts and no portion of labor charges, section 102(c) prohibits a condition that the consumer use only service (labor) identified by the warrantor to install the replacement parts. A warrantor or his designated representative may not provide parts under the warranty in a manner which impedes or precludes the choice by the consumer of the person or business to perform necessary labor to install such parts.
(c) No warrantor may condition the continued validity of a warranty on the use of only authorized repair service and/or authorized replacement parts for non-warranty service and maintenance. For example, provisions such as, ‘‘This warranty is void if service is performed by anyone other than an authorized ‘ABC’ dealer and all replacement parts must be genuine ‘ABC’ parts,’’ and the like, are prohibited where the service or parts are not covered by the warranty. These provisions violate the Act in two ways. First, they violate the section 102 (c) ban against tying arrangements. Second, such provisions are deceptive under section 110 of the Act, because a warrantor cannot, as a matter of law, avoid liability under a written warranty where a defect is unrelated to the use by a consumer of ‘‘unauthorized’’ articles or service. This does not preclude a warrantor from expressly excluding liability for defects or damage caused by such ‘‘unauthorized’’ articles or service; nor does it preclude the warrantor from denying liability where the warrantor can demonstrate that the defect or damage was so caused.

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 Archived 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.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the FTC prohibits any manufacturer from voiding warranties by the use of aftermarket parts and maintenance. As long as you follow the particular service life recommendation or use a oil analysis program you are covered. If you are told otherwise by a service department or anyone else, they are simply uninformed and not doing anyone justice. If they insist – please ask for it in writing!

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.

A warranty cannot be voided unless damage has been done and AMSOIL has never been the cause for any damage. Actual coverage policy – AMSOIL and the Magnuson – Moss Warranty Act.

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!

3000 mile oil Change Comes Under Fire!

The standard 3,000-mile oil change interval is under attack.
Promoted for years by most motor oil companies and quick
lube businesses as an essential part of proper vehicle maintenance,
the public has become much more skeptical in
recent years. In fact, searches for “3,000 mile oil change” in
top Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo! primarily
yield articles and blog postings that challenge the
practice and refer to it as a “scam” or “myth.”

AMSOIL synthetic motor oil was introduced in 1972 as the
only motor oil on the market recommended for 25,000-
mile/one year drain intervals, and the company has spent
much of the last 36 years as the lone voice promoting the
benefits of extended drain intervals. However, AMSOIL has
recently welcomed an increasing number of companies and
organizations to the party. Although they still don’t recommend
drain intervals as long as AMSOIL recommendations,
the momentum is growing.

Vehicle manufacturers have mostly recommended oil
change intervals exceeding 3,000 miles in recent years. In
fact, most recommend intervals of 5,000 miles or more.
Ford Motor Company recommends drain intervals of 7,500
miles in its model year 2007 and newer vehicles, while other
manufacturers incorporate oil monitoring systems in their
newer vehicles that allow motorists to extend drain intervals
even further.

In its December 2006 issue, Consumer Reports encourages
drivers to follow the longer oil change recommendations of
vehicle manufacturers, saying, “Although oil companies and
quick-lube shops like to promote this idea [that engine oil
should be changed every 3,000 miles], it’s usually not necessary.
Go by the recommended oil-change schedule in
your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Most vehicles driven under
normal conditions can go 7,500 miles or more between oil
changes. Some models now come with a monitoring system
that alerts the driver when the oil needs changing.
Depending on driving conditions, these can extend change
intervals to 10,000 or 15,000 miles.”

Steve Ritter, senior editor of Chemical & Engineering News,
writes, “Conventional wisdom has held that the oil should be
changed about every 3,000 miles. This notion has been
ingrained into people’s heads for decades, in part as a marketing
ploy by oil companies. The 3,000-mile interval made
sense when engines used single-grade nondetergent oils.
But with the latest oils and car designs, it’s no longer necessary
to change oil that often under normal driving conditions.”

Concerned about the effects of used oil on the environment
and responding to research that indicates 73 percent of
California drivers change motor oil more often than their
vehicle’s manufacturer recommends, the California
Environmental Protection Agency and its Integrated Waste
Management Board (CIWMB) have emerged as another
strong opponent of the 3,000-mile oil change. The group
recently launched a public information program and website
(www.3000milemyth.org) designed to “bust the 3,000-mile
myth” and encourage drivers to reduce used oil volume by
following the longer oil drain recommendations of vehicle

“Used motor oil poses a great risk to the environment,” said
CIWMB Chair Margo Reid Brown. “With better made cars
and the rise of synthetic oils, the 3,000-mile standard is not
always recommended.”

Most recently, General Motors announced its support of the
CIWMB program to educate drivers about oil change intervals.
According to GM, standard 3,000-mile oil change recommendations
are based on outdated engine and oil technology,
and the company instead recommends changing oil
based on its Oil Life System. Currently included on over 97
percent of all GM vehicles sold in the U.S., the GM Oil Life
System typically allows drivers to extend drain intervals up
to 10,000 miles through use of a computer-based software
algorithm that measures vehicle operating conditions.
With 31 million vehicles on the road equipped with the Oil
Life System, GM spokesman Tom Henderson claims following
its recommendations rather than the 3,000-mile rule
could save 100 million gallons of oil annually.

In addition to the environmental benefits associated with
less waste oil, extended drain intervals save consumers
money. For example, customers who purchase conventional
oil at $3 or more per quart, drive 12,000 miles per year
and follow 3,000-mile oil change recommendations spend at
least $60 per year on oil alone (assuming a five-quart sump
capacity). AMSOIL customers who pay $8.90 per quart
under the same conditions pay only $44.50 per year.

“When it comes to oil changes, less is more,” claims the
CIWMB. “You’ll have more money in your wallet by changing
your oil less, and fewer oil changes mean less oil that
needs to be safely managed and recycled.”

Premium AMSOIL synthetic motor oils offer the longest
drain intervals on the market, unsurpassed protection and
performance that effectively extends equipment life and
improved fuel economy, saving customers money at the
pump and reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil