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When it comes to owning a car, there’s always the temptation to start modifying aspects of its appearance. Maybe you’ve had your eye on a nice set of rims, new headlights—maybe even a performance exhaust kit or high-quality sound system.
Regardless of what you’re hoping to change, it’s important to know whether or not your manufacturer’s warranty will still protect you against defects or issues that aren’t your fault. While there’s generally nothing to worry about with manufacturer-produced extras, aftermarket parts from outside vendors can come with a risk of voiding your warranty.
Common vehicle modifications
According to Autotrader, some of the most common types of modifications can include:
- Upgraded wheels
- New sound systems
- Upgraded touch screen displays or DVD players for second row passengers
- Aftermarket paint or decals
- Lift kits or performance suspension systems
- Tinted windows (check with your state laws regarding window tint, though)
These changes are largely aesthetic, but can sometimes increase the resale value of a vehicle. There’s also nothing inherently wrong with vehicle modifications; they add character to a vehicle, and can be a great way to improve your driving experience as the owner.
However, window tinting, as well as some exhaust kits, will need to pass state law requirements before being installed.
Are vehicle modifications safe?
Replacing your wheels or engine components with manufacturer parts is typically safe. And besides, dealerships are likely to refuse to install a part if it will knowingly void your vehicle’s warranty in any way. This might include grilles, headlights, rims, or hood scoops.
Adding aftermarket parts may also increase the cost of insuring your vehicle, but when you go to sell, those vehicle modifications might actually help you to add some extra dollars to your vehicle’s price tag.
However, some potentially unsafe modifications can include:
- Lift kits that increase the likelihood of a rollover accident in a taller SUV or truck
- Subwoofer kits that can cause eardrum damage over time
- Improperly fitted rims or wheels that are too small or too large for a vehicle’s dimensions
Expect to pay more for your car’s modifications, too—the higher the value of your car, the more you are likely to see increased insurance premiums.
How do I know if my vehicle modification will void my warranty?
The best way to know whether your vehicle modification will void any warranties is to inquire with your local dealership or manufacturer’s website to find more information. You can also ask about automaker-approved suppliers; these companies may provide parts that are specifically covered under warranty by your automaker.
In most cases, repair technicians will first investigate whether the aftermarket part caused the damage which brought your vehicle into the dealership. If it can’t be determined that your vehicle modifications caused or contributed to your car’s issues, then you’ll most likely still be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty.