Understanding The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
Ever heard of the Magnuson-Moss OEM Warranty Act? Not surprising, since it’s a lesser-known remedial law created in 1975 to govern the integrity of warranties on consumer products. The law does not require products to carry a warranty, but if a product is made with one, the Magnuson-Moss OEM Warranty Act ensures that manufacturers aren’t nesting illegitimate disclaimers into their warranties that might mislead and take advantage of consumers. In other words, the law keeps manufacturers of warrantied products honest.
How This Law Affects Your Fleet
In essence, the Magnuson-Moss Act allows consumers the opportunity to choose products other than what the manufacturer has specified in their warranty. For example, if you purchase a John Deere tractor, it might come with a specification to use only John Deere tractor fluid in order to remain compliant with the warranty. The Magnuson-Moss OEM Warranty Act says that if a comparable tractor fluid is available by a different manufacturer and the tractor is still under warranty, you can legally use the alternate product while staying in compliance with the warranty. Also included in the Act, if the tractor manufacturer or dealer insists that only the John Deere tractor fluid be used in the equipment to satisfy the warranty, then the manufacturer or dealer must provide that product at no extra charge to the consumer.
A Clever Work-Around by OEMs
Under some circumstances, the Original Engine Manufacturer (OEM) has engineered a way to skirt around the limitations of the Magnuson-Moss OEM Warranty Act by specifying that only one particular brand of fluid is approved and allowed to be used in their equipment so as to remain in compliance with warranty parameters by not sharing with the consumer or the industry the prescribed tests that a fluid must pass to be considered under warranty. By doing this, manufacturers are in effect ensuring that their preferred brand and product “must” be used, often at a higher price while eliminating the possibility of consumers using a different unlicensed or unapproved fluid.
Backed Into a Corner on Choice of Warrantied Products
Using that method, substitution to a different product is not available and OEMs are free to charge a premium for their preferred products. Having successfully maneuvered around the law, they are then able to claim that their product alone meets and/or exceeds the warranty specifications and tests that are never made available to competing brands. Because they have no competition based on their refusal to release the qualification tests for other manufacturers to obtain approval, consumers are forced to only buy their preferred products in order to stay compliant with their warranty, and as a result they are forced to pay whatever price the OEM dictates.
How You Can Get Around These Limitations
OEM’s are not in the lubricant manufacturing business and must obtain their fluids and lubricants from a separate supplier in the industry, and many OEMs charge petroleum companies a yearly fee to use their name on the product claiming to meet warranty specifications. Occasionally a fluid or lubricant manufacturer will state that their unlicensed and/or unapproved product is suitable to use after the warranty period based on extensive testing of the product in its application (eg engine, transmission, gears, etc). They examine the chemistry of the fluids and lubricants to determine that their product is safe to continue use after the warranty period has ended, which is important for your fleet when considering oil drain intervals.
At SCL, customers frequently call us to check on how to properly follow OEM specifications in order to stick with their warranty regulations on drain intervals, concerned that if they go 1 mile over their 3,000-mile drain interval they will experience problems. They want to know if they can get 20,000 miles per drain interval if they switch to a certain product, and the answer to that question is “maybe.” Chevron, for example, suggests getting on a maintenance schedule to monitor fluids closely through oil analysis. On a case-by-case basis, and by monitoring your oil closely, you can slowly increase your drain intervals over time, but only if done correctly. The Magnuson-Moss OEM Warranty Act works in the consumer’s favor with this kind of system in place. It allows consumers the opportunity to go outside the OEM recommended products to choose alternative, comparable products that are just as effective, if not more effective for your engine to extend drain service intervals.
Secondary Warranty Protection
In many situations the lubricant manufacturer will provide their own warranty, which means that if you choose to use their products in your engine, they will shoulder the responsibility of covering the engine warranty – leveraging the probability of something going wrong and taking on the liability of their product. Simply put, if you start using their product, they will cover the manufacturer’s warranty on your vehicle, truck or equipment. OEM’s want consumers to believe that they should ONLY be using a specified brand of oil or fluid, but in reality, other manufacturers have created perfectly comparable, high quality products.
The Bottom Line
The scare tactic promoted by OEMs to keep you pigeonholed into buying only one specified product at a high price is just that – a scare tactic. By putting a different product in your equipment that meets or exceeds specifications, you won’t void your warranty. Your additive package won’t drop out and your oil won’t oxidize as a result since full or partial synthetics handle heat and soot disbursement well. We know that one of the greatest apprehensions of our customers is that when they spend half a million dollars on a piece of machinery, they need the peace of mind to know that they are maintaining their warranty while optimally maintaining their equipment. We’re here to assist you in determining whether a switch to a different product will keep you in compliance, while also saving you money by extending drain intervals.”
Contact an SCL Consultant Today
In a wide range of commercial and industrial sectors, if there’s metal touching metal, oil is involved. At SCL, we’re here to protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving and we pride ourselves on providing superior logistics and solutions, extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For more information on understanding the Magnuson-Moss Act and how combining regular oil analysis as part of your preventative maintenance schedule, along with upgrading to a premium product can extend your drain intervals while keeping you warranty compliant, contact an SCL consultant today.