A commonly asked question "if I fit a replacement part to my car, will it invalidate my manufacturer's warranty?". According to the law the answer is an emphatic NO. However, many people, including vehicle suppliers themselves, do not know this and supply the wrong information. Here is the info:
In October 2003, European Union legislation affecting the motor trade came into force. Its full title is 'Block Exemption Regulations 1400/2002' (in short 'BER'). This legislation changes the way cars may be serviced and repaired, and gives motorists a lot more freedom in their decision about who should look after their cars.
The BER covers areas such as who can service vehicles other than agents appointed by manufacturers and, more specifically to customers who are considering an after market replacement parts that can be fitted to a vehicle. Below we draw upon in particular the issues that concern fitting replacement parts to a vehicle that are not the manufacturer's original equipment.
The BER introduces certain definitions of importance to the independent aftermarket. There is a new definition of 'original spare parts' and 'matching quality parts' that is based on the quality of the component. Vehicle warranties cannot be invalidated if these conditions are met:
- Where parts used are of matching quality as the component used for the assembly of a motor vehicle.
Many after market replacement parts are manufactured from a higher quality material than OEM parts, for example, manufactured using internationally-certified practices. Spare parts of "matching quality" identifies parts in the following way: spare parts made by any undertaking which can certify at any moment that the parts in question match the quality of the components which are or were used for the assembly of the motor vehicles in question.
- Where parts used are of the same specifications and production standards as those used by the Vehicle Assemblers.
Replacement parts that are designed to fit to OE mounting parts and components such as catalysts without any modifications (including cutting, welding and bending of any OE parts). Its fitting is a simple bolt-on bolt-off process which can be reversed or replaced at any time without causing damage to the vehicle or OE components.
- Where parts manufacturers/suppliers are able to issue a quality certificate.
Replacement parts that are certified compliant by the strict guidelines set out by the EU-recognised TÜV and internationally-recognised ISO 9001.
An interesting point is that if the vehicle manufacturer itself offers spare parts of differing quality (e.g. an "economy" or "premium line"), he cannot prohibit its contractual partners (i.e. dealers and authorised repairers) from buying spare parts of the same quality from the independent market.
The BER also covers service and maintenance during the warranty period and prohibits vehicle manufacturers' warranties from including conditions requiring that all parts used must be the VA's "original spare parts".
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION DECLARED THAT SUCH CLAUSES IN A WARRANTY DOCUMENT WOULD REPRESENT 'AN UNJUSTIFIED RESTRICTION FOR THE CONSUMER.