The Auto Care Association, Automotive Oil Change
Association, Service Station Dealers of America and
Association have sent a joint letter to the editors
of Consumer Reports (CR), rebutting their May 20 article – “How a Cheap
Oil Change Can Cost You in the Long Run” by Jon Linkov – that promotes a 2012
technical bulletin from Kia warning consumers not to use non-OEM filters.
The article was based on a Kia bulletin that
recommended car owners either go back to the authorized dealer, or use a Kia
oil filter to avoid problems with oil- and filter-related warranty claims.
According to the trade associations, this recommendation is a violation of the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA), which prohibits the conditioning of new car
warranties on the use of a car company part or service.
The associations’ letter to Consumer
Reports in response to the article said:
“Consumer Reports has essentially
validated an unlawful and anti-competitive premise and urged readers to follow
it. This errant premise will unnecessarily cost readers of Consumer Reports
more money in the purchase of parts and services when alternatives are
available that are as good as or better than the original equipment option.
Under the MMWA, tie-in sales — branded products a manufacturer tries to tie to
warranty coverage — are illegal. A manufacturer can only void warranty coverage
for using an aftermarket version of a product, like an oil filter for a car, if
they first prove the aftermarket product caused damage, not that it ‘can be
tied to’ damage, as stated by Mr. Linkov.”
The letter to CR also states:
“Kia is attempting to circumvent the
MMWA entirely by asserting that the mere presence of an aftermarket oil filter
automatically voids warranty coverage for the oil change parts and services as
well as any damage Kia says ‘relates’ to oil filter function. In fact, if Kia
could prove its proprietary filter was the only one capable of operating
properly in its vehicles, then it would have already obtained a MMWA waiver
from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But, of course, they haven’t, and
neither have any of the other automakers using similar egregious scare tactics
to manipulate consumers into buying their expensive proprietary products and
In 2012, the four associations submitted
an initial complaint to the FTC regarding this Kia
technical bulletin. In light of this new article, on May 27, the associations
sent another complaint to the FTC, demanding again that they address the
technical bulletin from Kia, which they state is a clear violation of the MMWA
and misleading to motorists.