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