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Working legally with warranties

Protecting your shop goes beyond Magnuson-Moss
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 15:39
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Customer Supplied Parts

A common example is installing used parts and customer-supplied parts. I can think of any number of times where a customer pleaded and begged with me to install a used junkyard part or a part that they supplied. I remember reluctantly agreeing, warning the customer that the part would have no warranty and going to the trouble of writing in huge letters all over the receipt that there was no warranty.

State courts have ruled again and again that an automotive repair shop is perceived as expert in its field and that the very instant we agree to install a used or customer supplied part, we are agreeing to accept any liability associated with its failure. I know that in my home state of Maryland and many other states, there also is an issue of parts warranties not being transferrable.

In Maryland, any installed part has to be given a minimum 4,000-mile/90-day warranty, and any repair facility would be on its own if a customer supplied part fails. Those implied warranties are very serious business, with all of the risk and liability that comes with them, including such little gems as responsibility for property damage or bodily injury.

As shop owners and as service managers, we take great pride in the quality of our technicians, always making sure their training is up-to-date and that we have all of the right parts and equipment to repair and service a car to factory standards. This last is important because this would certainly include maintenance service and repairs. We want our customers to be very confident in bringing their new car to us as opposed to the dealer, where they bought the car, with no fear or concern that doing this would somehow affect their new car warranty.

The Magnuson-Moss Act gives consumers the freedom and flexibility to have their cars repaired where they want without fear of the dealer cancelling or voiding their warranty. The "Tie-in Sales Provision" of the act strictly forbids the voiding or modification of any written warranty and as a direct result of this. We are able to encourage customers to bring their new cars to us in complete confidence of the warranty.

Brian Canning is 30-year veteran of the automotive repair industry. He has been a leadership coach, Goodyear service manager, retail sales manager for a distributor, run a large fleet operation and headed a large multi-state sales territory for an independent manufacturer of automotive parts.

Email Brian at



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