The federal law controlling consumer product warranties is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The Act, which Congress passed in 1975, says that companies that offer warranties on consumer products must give consumers detailed information about what the warranties cover. Also, it changes both the rights of consumers and the responsibilities of those who give written warranties.
What Does the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Mean?
If you want to understand the Act, it helps to know why Congress passed it.
First, Congress wanted to ensure that consumers could find all the terms and conditions of warranties. By giving people a way to find out what a product's warranty covers before they buy it, the Act gives people a way to know what to expect if something goes wrong, which helps to make customers happier.
Second, Congress wanted to make sure that people could compare warranty coverage before buying something. By comparing, consumers can choose the best product that meets their needs in terms of price, features, and warranty coverage.
Third, Congress wanted to encourage competition based on what was covered by a warranty. By ensuring that consumers can get warranty information, the Act encourages sales promotion based on warranty coverage and competition between companies to meet consumer preferences through different levels of warranty coverage.
Lastly, Congress wanted to make it easier for companies to meet their warranty obligations on time and completely and settle any disputes with the least delay and cost to the consumer. So, the Act makes it easier for consumers to go to court to get a remedy for a breach of warranty. It also allows companies to settle disputes cheaply and informally without going to court.
How Does the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Work?
The FTC has published an interpretive rule that outlines some of the Act's provisions and defines a few terminologies. The Act and the Rules' obligations are fully outlined in this section. You may be subject to these three fundamental obligations as a warrantor or seller based on the Act and the Rules.
- Your written warranty must be labeled as "full" or "limited" by you, the warrantor.
- You must provide specific information about the warranty's coverage in a single, understandable document as the warrantor.
- You, as a seller or a warrantor, must make sure that warranties are offered where your consumer items are sold so that customers can read them before making a purchase.
All written warranties on consumer goods costing more than $10 are subject to the Act's titling requirement. All written guarantees on consumer goods costing more than $25 are subject to the disclosure and advance availability requirements established by FTC Rules.
Avoiding the Deception Language in Warranties
Naturally, warranties cannot include any vague or misleading language. A guarantee that purports to provide protection but, in reality, offers something other than what you can offer. For instance, it would be misleading and illegal to provide a guarantee that only applies to "moving parts" on an electrical device that has none. Similarly, a guarantee that implied a service the warrantor couldn't or didn't want to give would be dishonest and illegal.
How Does Magnuson-Moss Act Protect You as a Car Owner?
Magnuson-Moss act covers you in more than one way. Whether you are a car enthusiast who uses aftermarket performance parts, used an aftermarket part to fix an issue, or got a "lemon car," the Magnuson-Moss act is here to keep you and your warranty safe.
Magnuson-Moss Act on Aftermarket Parts
If we go by the letter of the law, Magnuson-Moss Act states that an automobile manufacturer can't void the vehicle's warranty solely due to the installation of aftermarket parts. However, there's a catch. If the dealership or the manufacturer deems the aftermarket part caused damage, they will void the warranty.
Be that as it may, if the dealership doesn't make a claim, you get to keep your warranty, even if you modify your car. Also, if the stock part was broken or didn't perform the way it should, you can change it.
Magnuson-Moss Act on Self-Servicing or Servicing a Vehicle Outside of the Dealership
Magnuson-Moss Act was a massive win for those who modify their cars or those who get their car serviced outside of the dealership because the Federal Trade Commission (FCC) says that: "Simply using an aftermarket or recycled part does not void your warranty."
If you want to perform regular maintenance yourself, you can do so. This means that you or another dealership or service provider can perform oil and fluid changes, tire changes, install new brake pads, replace belts and perform inspections.
Magnuson-Moss Act on "Lemon" Cars
Magnuson-Moss Act is usually referred to as the federal Lemon Law. It applies to all consumer products, and that includes motor vehicles. But what is a "Lemon"? While the definition of a lemon changes depending on the state, A "lemon" is an automobile with a serious flaw that the manufacturer cannot correct in a timely and secure manner. In essence, when a vehicle is labeled a lemon, it cannot uphold the manufacturer's guarantee, and the flaw can only be remedied with major redesigns or overhauls.
According to the federal lemon law, a buyer is entitled to a refund or product replacement if a product has a flaw that the maker can't fix after making a fair number of tries. How many attempts are deemed "reasonable" is one thing the federal lemon law does not specify. Because state lemon laws are supposed to augment the federal legislation already in place and are typically where the reasonable number of efforts is written out more clearly, each state has its own set of lemon laws.
In California, for instance, a consumer must make at least two tries to fix the issue before using the state's lemon law. In contrast, some states give the manufacturer four chances to make things right. In most cases, your car will be regarded as a lemon if it has been out of action and unusable for more than 30 days due to repair attempts. You'll be eligible for a replacement car or a refund when this happens.
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