Letter from K&N Regarding U.S. Vehicle Warranty and K&N Replacement Filters

Dear K&N Consumer:

K&N Engineering, Inc., is informed that some automobile dealers and manufacturers are telling their customers that the factory warranty on their motor vehicles is "void," if an original equipment (OE) replacement air filter, manufactured by K&N, has been installed on their vehicles. K&N finds such instances disturbing, and while it does not purport to give legal advice, K&N would like to refer you to the federal Consumer Product Warranties law, often referred to as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which states, in part, in title 15, United States Code, Section 2302, subdivision (c), as follows:

"No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer's using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name; except that the prohibition of this subsection may be waived by the [Federal Trade] Commission if -

(1) the warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with the warranted product, and

(2) the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest. The Commission shall identify in the Federal Register, and permit public comment on, all applications for waiver of the prohibition of this subsection, and shall publish in the Federal Register its disposition of any such application, including the reasons therefor."

Under this federal statute, a manufacturer, who issues a warranty on your motor vehicle, is prohibited from requiring you to use a particular brand of air filter, oil filter, or other service or maintenance item, unless such item is provided, free of charge, under your warranty or unless the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) waives this prohibition against the manufacturer. K&N is unaware of any exemption or waiver granted by the FTC to any motor vehicle manufacturer, which pertains to air filters or oil filters.

K&N interprets this law to also prohibit the motor vehicle manufacturer from restricting your use of a particular brand of air filter, oil filter, etc. K&N's interpretation of this law is consistent with the interpretation given it by the FTC, the government agency responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of this federal law.

The rules and regulations adopted by the FTC, to govern the interpretation and enforcement of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, are set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations, title 16 - Commercial Practices, Chapter I - Federal Trade Commission, Subchapter G - Rules, Regulations, Statements and Interpretations Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Part 700 - Interpretations Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Contained within these rules and regulations is Section 700.10, which states, in relevant part (with specific language highlighted by K&N), as follows:

(c) No warrantor may condition the continued validity of a warranty on the use of only authorized repair service and/or authorized replacement parts for non-warranty service and maintenance. For example, provisions such as, "This warranty is void if service is performed by anyone other than an authorized 'ABC' dealer and all replacement parts must be genuine 'ABC' parts," and the like, are prohibited where the service or parts are not covered by the warranty. These provisions violate the Act in two ways. First, they violate the section 102(c) ban against tying arrangements. Second, such provisions are deceptive under section 110 of the Act, because a warrantor cannot, as a matter of law, avoid liability under a written warranty where a defect is unrelated to the use by a consumer of "unauthorized" articles or service. This does not preclude a warrantor from expressly excluding liability for defects or damage caused by such "unauthorized" articles or service; nor does it preclude the warrantor from denying liability where the warrantor can demonstrate that the defect or damage was so caused."

We think this FTC rule is pretty clear and unambiguous. Please note that the FTC requires the "warrantor" (this would, generally, be your motor vehicle manufacturer) to "demonstrate" that the defect in or damage to your vehicle was caused by your installation or use of a K&N air or oil filter, or other "unauthorized" part, before a warranty claim can be denied. We contend that this requires credible proof as to the cause of a failure and not merely your dealer's guess, speculation or unfounded opinion as to the cause.

Therefore, K&N considers any threat to void your factory warranty, or the actual voiding of your factory warranty, solely for the installation of a K&N replacement air filter or oil filter, to be a violation of federal law.

The foregoing addresses only your rights and protection under federal law. Of course, you may have greater rights under the consumer warranty laws applicable in your state.

If you have encountered a motor vehicle dealer, who has failed and refused to "demonstrate" or prove, as federal law requires, that your K&N air filter necessitated a repair for which warranty coverage has been denied, or a manufacturer, who refuses to perform warranty repairs on your vehicle, merely because you have installed a K&N replacement air filter or based on inaccurate information from your dealer, then we ask that you request that the dealer or manufacturer set forth, in writing, the warranty denial, together with a written statement as to the specific reasons for the denial of warranty repairs, and that you send a copy of this written statement to K&N. We also ask that you direct your dealer and manufacturer to the federal law quoted above. K&N assists consumers in this situation through the K&N Consumer Protection Pledge. For details please go to the K&N website at KNFilters.com or contact our customer service department at 800-858-3333.

Please keep in mind that a motor vehicle dealer is, generally, not the "warrantor" of your vehicle. Your dealer may be assisting you as much as possible in getting the manufacturer to cover repairs of your vehicle under warranty, but the factory may still refuse to cover the repairs. If this happens, then there may be nothing further that the dealership can do, and it should not be blamed for the actions of your vehicle's warrantor. A dealership's control over the approval of a warranty repair is usually limited to properly diagnosing and reporting the cause of the repair. K&N only takes issue with those dealerships who advise consumers that the mere installation of a K&N air filter on a vehicle "voids" the factory warranty, or they convey to the manufacturer an unsubstantiated opinion or conclusion that a K&N air filter caused an engine or component failure, without any objective proof to support such a statement, which results in the denial of a legitimate warranty repair.

Tom McGann,
K&N Engineering, Inc.