: Mods and Warranties

04-25-13, 12:20 PM
As the proud new owner of a 2013 CTS-V “Black Diamond” Wagon (with manual!) I raise this question about performance mods. Who has ever been denied warranty coverage because they have flashed their ECU or did upgrades that “Voided” their warranty?

There is tons of discussion about it potentially happening, but nobody has chimed in on it actually happening to them. I have owned GM vehicles since I was 16, and I have never had a new GM vehicle need to go into the shop for repairs on the drive train. Never. My last Cadillac was an 09 CTS Sedan, the 5 years I owned it the only maintenance that was done besides routine was on the Navigation System and the cooled seats. Never because of drive train issues. Dido with my 2010 Denali, 2004 Sierra, etc…

Now, every dealership I have talked to has told me the same thing, if your modification is a direct result of an engine part failure, you are responsible for the cost. And that has to be proven. If I bolt long tubes on my wagon and the hatch won’t close, guess what, I’m still covered. If I do that and an O2 sensor burns out, it’s on me. That is my interpretation of warranty coverage’s.

Flashing the ECU is a whole new ball game. I know for sure GM can see this; I have had friends learn this lesson on their Camaro’s. Some dealerships will void your warranty and tell you to have a nice day. Others, especially if you bought a 75k car from them, will work with you depending on the extent of the damages.

But again, who has ever had this problem? Who has been denied warranty coverage because of mods? Im curious, so i can AVOID this dealer! I understand the risk associated with mods, but I have enough faith in my vehicle’s drive train to know that bolting on a few non-invasive mods and a light tune to compliment them isn’t going to cause my transmission to fall out from under my wagon. Gm has faith in them too, that’s why they warranty the drive train for 6 yrs 80k (yes, no more 6 yr 100k), knowing we are going to drive the heck out of a 556hp car!

04-25-13, 12:41 PM
Your interpretation is correct on it's face, however, the problem is that if you are facing a huge repair from a major failure caused by the mods you did the likelihood of the dealer fixing it is slim because the proof will lie with you to prove the mods didn't cause it not with them to prove it did. They'll force you to litigation and we all know how that goes. Your example of broken hood strut or other items still being covered under the B2B warranty is right- they should still cover those- but if you go there with a broken ring or other internal damage that they can point at the tune as the cause, you are screwed. It sounds like we've both been the same road with cars but I've never had a power train issue either.

04-26-13, 09:54 AM
No one.........

Gary Wells
04-26-13, 11:08 AM
Legally, I believe that you have the burden of proof that your modification did not cause a drivetrain failure, not theirs to prove that it did.
Good luck with that.

04-26-13, 02:06 PM
Modifying an expensive performance car, if we are being honest with ourselves SHOULD void the warranty, particulalry if you are changing the specs/performance in a significant way. If you add 50hp/tq to the wheels with a tune, add drag radials, and go to the quarter mile track every Saturday, I don't really see how GM should be liable if you blow out the rear diff or something worse. I don't know what kinds of troubles people have had with the other systems on modified cars, meaning if you have performance mods and say have issues with traction control, suspension systems, brakes etc if they refuse to service those under warranty. I think it really depends on the dealer relationship you have, and how you take car of your car.

There is also unconfirmed, well sort of confirmed, reports that GM can track any and all tampering with the ECU, and not matter if they can see what you did or not they void the entire powertrain with any unauthorized tampering. So even if you just put on an aftermarket intake and cat back exhaust, if you tune it, its voided. I'm not trying to side with GM seem against modding. I really wish we could add some minor things without an issue. I wish you could improve the intake and exhaust a bit, perhaps even install transmission "upgrades" to improve shifting responce by authorized GM performance shops without voiding warranty. I'd pay extra to be able to do this, because particularly on a car as expensive as a CTS-V, I'm very fearful of huge repair costs on a car that most of us maintain a heafty monthly payment to enjoy. The CTS-V isn't a $20,000 f-body, and has a lot of expensive electronic systems in addition to the motor and transmission, that I would HATE to mess up just to have an extra 50HP. Ironically though, I fight this because one of the things that has created the desire to own the V is the fact that you can get crazy power with some fairly simple modifications, just like the Terminator Mustang Cobra. It's nice to know that if I can't fight the mod bug off, I have a lot of options, it just fights that other part of me that is whispering warranty in my ear.

04-27-13, 03:04 PM
Many people confuse "warranty-compatible" mods with "a dealer who will work with you on reasonable issues, in spite of warranty applicability."

In other words, many people report having a differential replaced "under warranty" with a pulley, tune and intake... but in reality the dealer is working with them in a good-faith situation for whatever reason. The dealer (a private company) is NOT the legal and official voice of GM. However, in many situations GM just simply trusts the dealer's judgement on a specific claim.

In the most expensive of situations - typically motor or transmission failures - GM is more interested in protecting their interests and the ECM is mandated to be verified... so a tune likely would be detected and the claim denied by GM. Some dealers may check the ECM for any repair, but that's uncommon IMHO; dealers typically only check the ECM when required to for claim payment through GM (again, this is typically only done for drivetrain claims). The short of it is: simple things like intakes and exhausts are often purposefully overlooked by dealers as a courtesy to their customers to keep people happy because GM didn't require the ECM to be verified - but in no way would I ever assume that these are "warranty safe." It may very well depend on the dealer, or the service manager at that dealer, and how nitpicky they want to be and how much info they want to pass along to GM when the warranty claim is being reviewed.

As others state, the burden of proof is on you the end user to refute any judgement by the dealer (or GM) - if you wind up with a denied claim for "mods," it would be very problematic (and expensive) to legally overturn that. I've heard of a few guys in the Corvette community getting engines replaced outside of warranty on a good faith kind of thing for various reasons, but that has ALWAYS been at the sole discretion of GM execs taking pity on them (most often in a stock, low mile car that failed after warranty expiration).

The flip side is that I've seen people post about denied coverage in a vehicle WITH warranty AND a stock tune, but the claim was refused because there were "racing parts" on the car like suspension, big-brake kits or racing seats/harnesses... because that implied heavy track use (also a warranty-voiding act).

You have to read the warranty contract carefully and have an understanding with your preferred dealer service dept. And at the end of the day, you're still relying on someone else's judgement call. In the most strict sense, warranties are typically worded so that ANY modification can theoretically be used to void your warranty, but real-world results often vary for a variety of reasons.

Do you want to be in the position of arguing in court as to why drag radials couldn't possible contribute to magnetic shock failure, or that your extra HP from an intake couldn't contribute to premature differential failure? This is why you hear of people talking about "going back to stock" prior to a dealer service check, because they don't want to risk a non-ECM modification being used to deny the most valuable powertrain coverage - almost any mod worth doing can potentially be construed as inciting excessive wear/tear/abuse relative to OEM design parameters; but of course this quickly gets into an ethical argument of "should you?"

04-27-13, 03:05 PM
double tap.