The Auto Care Association urged the Maryland House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee to pass proposed legislation that would ensure that car owners receive important information regarding their warranty rights when purchasing or leasing a new vehicle.
The bill, H-434, would require automakers to provide notice to consumers of their rights under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, within 90 days after the purchase or lease of a new vehicle.
The notice would say:
“The Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act … makes it illegal for a motor vehicle manufacturer or dealer to void a motor vehicle warranty or deny warranty coverage simply because a person other than the dealer has performed service on the vehicle or an aftermarket or recycled part has been used to repair the vehicle.
“A motor vehicle manufacturer or dealer may deny warranty coverage and charge for repairs to a vehicle if it is discovered that an aftermarket or recycled part installed on the vehicle is defective or was installed incorrectly and caused damage to another part of the vehicle otherwise covered under warranty. The federal trade commission requires that a manufacturer or dealer demonstrate that an aftermarket or recycled part or service performed by a person other than a dealer caused damage to another part of the vehicle otherwise covered under warranty before denying warranty coverage.”
Testifying on behalf of the association, Tom Tucker, the association’s director of state government affairs, described the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which contains anti-tying provisions that are some of the strongest regulations protecting consumers.
“Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of their rights under federal law when a warranty is voided due to the use of a non-original part or service,” Tucker said. “The result is that either the car owner or an independent repair shop is unfairly saddled with the cost of warranty repairs, when those costs should have been borne by the franchised dealer or new-car manufacturer. This is a daily occurrence across the country, but the interactions are difficult to document since consumers rarely know their rights.
“This simple response to the hidden abuse of consumers does not revise any federal law nor require any expenditure of state resources, but it will provide a very valuable piece of consumer education that could save them money and time and ensure that they are not misled by either the automakers or their authorized service providers.”
Joining the Auto Care Association to testify in support of the legislation were the Washington, Maryland, Delaware Service Station and Automotive Repair Association, (WMDA); AAA Mid-Atlantic; the Tire Industry Association; LKQ Corp.; the Service Stations Dealers of America; B&A Auto Care (Columbia, Md.); and Wrinkler Auto Service (Gaithersburg, Md.).
“While some automakers and their authorized service representatives would like people to believe that only they can perform routine maintenance, this is not true,” Committee Chairman Dereck Davis, the primary bill sponsor, said as he opened the hearing. “Under federal law, a person can have maintenance work performed on their car by someone else without voiding the warranty.”
Lawmakers present at the hearing understood the issues the bill addresses and pushed back on attempts by the automakers to compare general maintenance to vehicle modifications. The bill will be referred to the Consumer Protection and Commercial Law Subcommittee for a hearing and recommended action back to the full Economic Matters Committee.
For more information about the Auto Care Association’s state-level government affairs initiatives, contact Tucker at (240) 333-1042 or [email protected].