Consumer purchasers of automotive filters are sometimes told by an automobile dealer’s service writer or mechanic that a brand of replacement filter cannot be used in the consumer’s vehicle during the warranty period. The claim is made that only the original equipment brand of filters may be used. This, of course, tends to cast doubt on the quality of the replacement filter. That claim is simply not true. If the consumer asks for the statement in writing, he will not receive it. Nevertheless, the consumer may feel uneasy about using replacement filters that are not original equipment. With the large number of do-it-yourselfers who prefer to install their own filters, this misleading claim should be corrected.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C SS 2301-2312 (1982), and general principles of the Federal Trade Commission Act, a manufacturer may not require the use of any brand of filter (or any other article) unless the manufacturer provides the item free of charge under the terms of the warranty. So if the consumer is told that only the original equipment filter will not void the warranty, he should request that the OE filter be supplied free of charge. If he is charged for the filter, the manufacturer will be violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or other applicable law.
By providing this information to consumers, the Filter Manufacturers Council can help combat the erroneous claim that a brand of replacement filter other than original equipment will ‘void the warranty’. It should be noted that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that applies to consumer products. The Federal Trade Commission has authority to enforce the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, including obtaining injunctions and orders containing affirmative relief. In addition, a consumer can bring suit under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.