Jan. 21, 2020—New Jersey dealers of new vehicles are now required to display information about the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. A bill that requires this disclosure took effect in early January after years of legislative efforts.
The Act is a federal law that prevents OEMs from voiding warranties when repairs are done with aftermarket parts, such as oil filters. The state-level disclosure efforts are led by the Automotive Oil Change Association.
The New Jersey law says that within 90 days of a new car purchase, the dealer or OEM must mail to the owner a disclosure about the MMWA.
Work on this bill started around 2016 with an AOCA-led survey on warranty knowledge. The survey found that a vast majority of New Jersey drivers didn't know about the Warranty Act. It also found that dealers were the main culprit in telling customers that quick lube service could void warranties.
Jay Rosenthal, AOCA member and vice president of New Jersey Lubrication, presented the survey's findings to a state assembly committee in 2017.
"[We surveyed] customers who had been told they were required to use OEM parts and/or services to maintain warranty coverage," Rosenthal said, according to a press release. "This isn't easy information to obtain, because many people are afraid to risk calling out a powerful company on bad behavior. Within a mere month, however, fifty-eight customers came forward to tell their stories. 91 percent of respondents did not know about their MMWA rights before they took the survey. Sixty-five percent of them were told by an automobile dealership employee that they were required to use OEM parts and/or service to maintain warranty coverage."
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill in early January 2020. The Auto Care Association was one organization that praised the bill's passage.
“Gaining the right to repair your vehicle at the facility of your choosing without voiding the vehicle warranty was only half the battle in protecting consumer choice,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, in a release. “The Auto Care Association and our allies are dedicated to consumer choice and we are fighting to ensure that the federal rights of consumers are not only acknowledged by the states, but actively protected and defended by them too.”
Joanna Johnson, AOCA's policy director, said that Connecticut has a similar law in place. In California, the aftermarket organization CAWA is working with state departments to spread information about warranty rights.
As for the New Jersey law, this is the mandatory disclosure:
“The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. s.2301 et seq., makes it illegal for motor vehicle manufacturers or dealers to void a motor vehicle warranty or deny coverage under the motor vehicle warranty simply because an aftermarket or recycled part was installed or used on the vehicle or simply because someone other than the dealer performed service on the vehicle. It is illegal for a manufacturer or dealer to void your warranty or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you used an aftermarket or recycled part. If it turns out that an aftermarket or recycled part was itself defective or wasn’t installed correctly and it causes damage to another part that is covered under the warranty, the manufacturer or dealer has the right to deny coverage for that part and charge you for any repairs. The Federal Trade Commission requires the manufacturer or dealer to show that the aftermarket or recycled part caused the need for repairs before denying warranty coverage.”