Go Ahead, Modify Your Car Before The Warranty Expires

There are those of us out there with tuner mentality, you know who you are. We can’t leave well enough alone. Tinkering, with this or that and it transcends our daily lives and into our cars. We have to customize it in our own way. Some aesthetically, with springs or coilovers and wheels and tires. Some go with airbrushed murals of horses prancing off in to the desert sunset. I don’t judge.

My taste is more performance oriented. So when I go car shopping I don’t just look at the completed package from the factory, but the aftermarket potential and bang-for-the-buck. The same reason people opt for a loaded BMW 335i instead of the M3. Price difference is negligible but the 335i with just a few mods would pull away from the V8 and get a hell of a lot better fuel economy. Manufacturers have to build cars using lower tolerances to ensure reliability.  This means, particularly in cars with forced induction, they leave some horsepower and torque on the table.  Aftermarket companies spend many millions in R&D going after what’s on the aforementioned table.

This then brings us to the topic of modifying a car that is under warranty. The first thing to understand is that the simple act of modifying your car does not void the warranty. The replaced part would need to be proven to have caused the failure. For example, installing a catback exhaust will not void your warranty if the engine fails. Using unapproved oil, however, might. The most likely modification to result in denial of warranty, if your engine has trouble, is easily the engine’s management system.  Which is unfortunate because companies like Cobb offer a fairly inexpensive way to quickly and painlessly increase HP and TQ, but you have to be willing to take on some risks.

When I asked our Editor-In-Chief, Will Byrd, for his opinion on the subject, he said, “I’ve never owned a car past its warranty. That’s not totally true, but after owing well over 20 cars, it’s happened only a couple of times, so I’m not an expert. I typically focus on bolt-ons and suspension mods.  Factory approved mods are a nice alternative, some of them you can wrap into the payment when you buy the car.  However, I don’t think most manufacturers or dealers give you warrantied option for stuff like engine management chips so you are forced to go for aftermarket kit that will likely void the warranty.”

Galpin designed 2015 Mustang
Therein lies the problem. Many, like Will and myself, would never see ownership through it’s warranty. And even if we did hold on to our car to see it expire before doing mods, what’s the point if we’re only going to sell the car a year later? That would be a total waste of money and time.

So we say “go ahead, modify your car before the warranty expires” if that’s what you had in mind when you purchased the car, or if you feel like you need a change.  So if the car needs modifications to make you happy, why keep driving something you don’t enjoy? Just weigh the risk versus reward and don’t install a modification if you can’t cover the possible repair bill.  And remember, as we just wrote about, more power is a slippery slope, so don’t fool yourself into thinking “just one more mod”.  I can stop anytime I want!  Do we have a 12-step program to get off the modification wagon?  Or is it on the wagon, I forget?

Regardless, post about your modding successes and tribulations below, or tweet at us.  We love the Twitter.


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