Trade Associations Insist FTC Take Action Against Kia
The Auto Care Association, Automotive Oil Change Association and the Tire Industry Association joined forces to call on the Federal Trade Commission to take immediate action to have Kia withdraw a technical bulletin warning customers not to use non-OEM filters, which is clearly a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA).
The bulletin, which was referenced in an article in Consumer Reports, (CR) recommended car owners either go back to the authorized dealer or use a Kia oil filter to avoid problems with oil- and filter-related warranty claims.
Two years ago, the three associations submitted a complaint to the FTC regarding a technical service bulletin from Kia that authorized dealers to deny warranty coverage simply based on the use of an aftermarket filter — without any determination that the filter actually caused the problem with the vehicle. The letter pointed out the fact that this practice is a violation of the MMWA. Specifically, the letter stated:
“The MMWA manufacturer’s burden of proof is not that it need merely show an aftermarket part ‘relates’ to damage, but that it ‘caused’ any alleged damage. As the FTC states in its consumer alert: ‘The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for companies to void your warranty or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you used an aftermarket or recycled part.’ The alert goes on to say that if there is a problem with use of an aftermarket part or how it was installed, the manufacturer or dealer may deny a warranty claim. However, the manufacturer must first ‘show that the aftermarket or recycled part caused the need for repairs before denying warranty coverage.’ Kia’s directives circumvent this process entirely: the mere presence of an aftermarket oil filter automatically voids warranty coverage for the oil change parts and services as well as any damage Kia says ‘relates’ to oil filter function.”
The May 22 letter to the FTC states, “Despite the complaint, the FTC has yet to do anything to enforce the MMWA requirements with Kia. Now, Consumer Reports is further promoting the Kia technical bulletin in an article that has been seen on Yahoo’s front page as well as other locations. If there was any doubt about how the technical bulletin is being interpreted by consumers, one only needs to read the recommendations from CR for motorists with Kia vehicles under warranty.”
The Consumer Reports article states:
“1. When dropping your car off for service, make sure you don’t authorize the dealer to perform repairs without speaking with you first. This way you won’t get a surprise bill for an oil and filter change.
2. If your Kia is still under the powertrain warranty, consider taking it to the dealer for oil changes. Yes, it probably costs more than the quick-lube store, but you’ll avoid any potential problems with oil- and filter-related warranty claims.
3. Consider buying Kia-approved oil filters and either using them when you do your own oil changes, or have your mechanic or quick-lube store use the Kia filter and not their own.”