The Auto Care Association testified on Wednesday (Feb. 7) before the Maryland House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee for passage of legislation that would ensure car owners are provided with important information regarding their warranty rights when purchasing or leasing a new vehicle.
The bill would require auto manufacturers to provide notice to consumers within 90 days after the purchase or lease of a new vehicle of their rights under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA).
Testifying on behalf of the association, Tom Tucker, director, state government affairs described the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA), which contains anti-tying provisions that are some of the strongest regulations protecting consumers. Specifically, 15 USC Sec. 2302 states that manufacturers may not condition any warranty to the purchase of original equipment (OE) parts or service.
“Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of their rights under federal law when a warranty is voided due to the use of a non-original part or service,” Tucker said. “The result is that either the car owner or an independent repair shop is unfairly saddled with the cost of warranty repairs, when those costs should have been borne by the franchised dealer or new car manufacturer. This is a daily occurrence across the country, but the interactions are difficult to document since consumers rarely know their rights.
“This simple response to the hidden abuse of consumers does not revise any federal law nor require any expenditure of state resources, but it will provide a very valuable piece of consumer education that could save them money and time and ensure that they are not misled by either the automakers or their authorized service providers,” Tucker added.
Joining the Auto Care Association to testify in support of this legislation were the Washington, Maryland, Delaware Service Station and Automotive Repair Association (WMDA), AAA Mid-Atlantic, Tire Industry Association, LKG Corp., the Service Stations Dealers of America, B&A Auto Care (Columbia, Maryland) and Wrinkler Auto Service (Gaithersburg, Maryland).
Committee Chairman Dereck Davis, the primary bill sponsor, opened the hearing by stating, “While some automakers and their authorized service representatives would like people to believe that only they can perform routine maintenance, this is not true. Under federal law, a person can have maintenance work performed on their car by someone else without voiding the warranty.”
Lawmakers present at the hearing understood the issues the bill addresses and pushed back on attempts by the automakers to compare general maintenance to vehicle modifications, according to the Auto Care Association. The bill will now be referred to the Consumer Protection and Commercial Law Subcommittee for a hearing and recommended action back to the full Economic Matters Committee.
For more information about the Auto Care Association’s state-level government affairs initiatives, contact Tucker at 240-333-1042 or [email protected].