FTC: BMW Illegally Refused to Honor Warranties for Cars Serviced by Third-Party Mechanics

FTC: BMW Illegally Refused to Honor Warranties for Cars Serviced by Third-Party Mechanics
Image: BMW
March 20, 2015

Have you ever been told that if you don't go to a dealership for maintenance or repairs, it will void the warranty on your car? Many people have and not only is it wrong, but as BMW just found out, it's also illegal.

BMW agreed to settle a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint that in order for MINI owners to maintain their warranties, the company required that owners needed to use specific brands of parts or specified service centers.

"It's against the law for a dealer to refuse to honor a warranty just because someone else did maintenance or repairs on the car," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "As a result of this order, BMW will change its practices and give MINI owners information about their rights."

The FTC settlement imposes no fines, but it bars BMW, in connection with the sale of any MINI Division good or service, from representing that, to ensure a vehicle's safe operation or maintain its value, owners must have routine maintenance performed only by MINI dealers or MINI centers, unless the representation is true and BMW can substantiate it with reliable scientific evidence.

It also requires BMW to provide affected MINI owners with information about their right to use third-party parts and service without voiding warranty coverage, unless BMW provides such parts or services for free.