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Old 12-18-2014, 02:06 AM   #1
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Drives: 2011 Stage 2 GTI
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Colorado Front Range
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Warranty 101: Warranty and You - TD1, recalls, updates, Magnuson Moss, etc...

Let me preface this with a little bit of history about me so you have an understanding of where this information is coming form. I spent over a decade working for as a technician for Volkswagen and Audi. I started right out of tech school as an apprentice and worked my way up into supervisory and leadership positions including Team Leader and Shop Foreman. I've trained apprentice technicians, I've had groups of technicians working under me, I’ve been given VW’s Generation Best award multiple times, and I've placed as one of the top technicians in the manufacturer's SQC competition. I'm certified by Volkswagen as an Engine Performance Specialist, Transmission Specialist, Chassis Specialist, Electrical Specialist, Routan Specialist, e-Mobility Specialist, Expert Technician, Diagnostic Technician, and Volkswagen Master Technician. I'm certified by Audi as Engine Performance Specialist, Transmission Specialist, Chassis Specialist, Expert Technician, and Audi Master Technician. I left the dealership world when I was recruited to the developmental side of things. I went to work as an Electrician for the Quality Services Engineering Division of an engineering firm working with a manufacturer's pre-production and prototype vehicles and technology but I was quickly promoted to one of the top spots on the technical team. Basically when it comes to cars, I know a thing or two about a thing or two.

Chapter 1 - Lets start with the basics… What is a warranty?
Warranty is one of those things where everyone knows what it is but rarely do people seems to really understand it. I’m going to attempt to bring some clarity to factory warranty and the things that go with it. defines a warranty as “a written guarantee given to the purchaser of a new appliance, automobile, or other item by the manufacturer or dealer, usually specifying that the manufacturer will make any repairs or replace defective parts free of charge for a stated period of time.”

Audi defines a warranty as “a guarantee that the manufacturer will replace any component that fails as a result of manufacturer’s defect in material or workmanship”

The key word is underlined in both definitions is Defect/Defective. A warranty is not a get out of jail free card when you break your car, it’s to cover the repair expenses incurred when parts have failed prematurely through normal use.

I happen to have a Warranty and Maintenance Guide in my hands right now, while it is from Toyota the disclaimers are pretty standard across every brand. It says:

“-Maintenance - You are responsible for performance of the required maintenance indicated in the Owner’s Manual and this booklet. Toyota will not deny a warranty claim solely because you do not have records to show that you maintained your vehicle. However, any failure or noncompliance caused by the lack of maintenance in not covered by this warranty. When maintenance and repairs are paid for by you, these services may be performed by you or by any automotive service provider you choose. Toyota will not deny a warranty claim solely because you used a service provider other than a Toyota dealership for maintenance and repairs. However, any failure or noncompliance caused by improper maintenance or repairs is not covered by this warranty. “ *****That last part is important and we will come back to that later.*****

-What is Not Covered: This warranty does not cover damage or failures resulting directly or indirectly from any of the following: Fire, accidents, theft, abuse, negligence, misuse - for example, racing or overloading, improper repairs, alteration or tampering including installation of non-genuine Toyota Accessories, lack of or improper maintenance including the use of fluids other than those specified in the Owner’s Manual, installation of non-Genuine Toyota Parts, airborne chemicals, tree sap, road debris (including stone chips), rail dust, salt, hail, floods, windstorms, lightning, and other environmental conditions, and water contamination.

With a new car you get a few different warranties:
-New Vehicle Limited Warranty: covers manufacturer’s defects in material or workmanship. **Adjustments and items that was subject to wear are typically only covered for 12 months or 12,000 miles and NOT the length of the NVLM**

-Limited Warranty Against Corrosion Perforation: covers any repair or replacement to correct a defect in manufacturer’s material and workmanship that will result in rust perforation of the vehicle body.

-Federal Emissions Warranty: Emissions Control System Defect Warranty covers emissions related parts that fail to conform to US EPA regulations due to defect in material or workmanship. Federal law mandates the coverage period is 2 years or 24,000 miles for all emission related parts and 8 years or 80,000 miles for specific control devices. Emissions Control System Performance Warranty covers emission related parts that fail to pass an approved state inspection and maintenance test. Federal law mandates the coverage period is 2 years or 24,000 miles for all emission related parts and 8 years or 80,000 miles for specific control devices.

-California Emissions Warranty: I’m not getting into it, screw that place

Chapter 2 - Campaigns... Recalls, Service Actions, and Updates
Recalls: Recalls are conducted for safety, compliance, and emissions-related defects. These actions are reported to and monitored by government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency. Recall eligibility never expires. The manufacturer will cover the cost of of parts and labor to perform the recall until it has been completed. Even a totaled or salvaged title vehicle is entitled to have recalls performed. The law requires that the manufacturer sends a letter via 1st class mail to the last known owner of every vehicle that falls within the recall parameters outlining what the recall is for and how it will be addressed.

Service Actions: Service Actions are conducted to address customer satisfaction and product technical issues that are not directly related to safety or compliance but can sometimes be emissions-related in scope. Service Actions can be completed on vehicles showing a totaled or salvaged title. The manufacturer is not required but willing sends letters via 1st class mail to the last known owner of every vehicle that falls within the Service Action parameters. Service Actions may be limited to a specific time which will be clearly noted in the letter.

Updates: Updates are meant to address and prevent quality issues and are provided as part of the brand's commitment to quality and reliability of their products. Updates are proactive vehicle enhancements. Updates are an investment in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and vehicle reliability. The manufacturer does NOT mail letters to the customers informing them of vehicle updates, when the vehicle is brought to the dealership for service the VIN shows an open update, it is performed free of charge to vehicles that still fall within the specified warranty period such as the New Vehicle Limited Warranty (NVLW), Federal Emissions Warranty (FED_EMS), or Extended Warranty (WARR_EXT). Vehicles with a totaled or salvaged title are NOT covered by updates. If a vehicle's coverage for an update has expired, the update should be offered at the customer expense.

Chapter 3 - TSBs.... Technical Service Bulletins
Technical Service Bulletins are NOT the same as Recalls, Service Actions, or Updates. A dealership does not perform a TSB on your car just because you read about it on the internet and want them to do it. The manufacturer makes a lot of vehicles and they monitor all of the repairs made to them. When they see a pattern relating to a specific concern they will release a TSB that addresses it. That does mean you can come in demanding it be performed on your vehicle, it means if a vehicle with the concern XYZ comes in for service, if the tech CAN DUPLICATE IT, they should look at 123 before digging into it further. It’s just saying this is a common/semi-common thing so let's start with looking at this. For example the timing tensioner TSB on VW 2.0T TSI that people love to talk about, all the TSB says is if it’s running rough and it has cam/crank allocation fault to check the tensioner… that’s it. That doesn’t mean you can come in and get a new tensioner.

Chapter 4 - Bringing your vehicle to a dealership for service.
Technically when you bring a vehicle in for ANY concern, no matter how new or how low the mileage is, the service adviser is supposed to have the customer authorize $X for diagnosis before a technician gets the vehicle. If the cause for the concern is covered under warranty, than the manufacturer covers the expense, they reimburse the dealership and the customer never pays a dime. BUT, if it's not something that warranty will pay for (parking sensors inop because you hit something and damaged a sensor, check engine light because a rodents chewed wiring, mass air flow sensor is burnt out from an over oiled aftermarket filter, suspension vibration from mud or ice caked to the inner barrel of the wheels, etc, etc.) then the customer is responsible for the technician’s time into the vehicle via the diagnosis they authorized from the beginning. Just because you are asked to authorize a diagnostic fee up front does not mean you will charged that fee. 9 times out of 10 you will not be charged that fee as it will be a legitimate warranty repair and not something caused by outside influence.

In the real world it's very common for service writers not to get time authorized on a "warranty" vehicle because they are assuming the problem is a going to be a warranty repair based on nothing other than the vehicle still being within the warranty period. When a vehicle has been modified or has non OEM accessories installed the probability of you being told you need to authorize time up front goes up exponentially. If your vehicle looks modified don’t be surprised if you’re asked to authorize a diagnosis fee before anyone looks at the car.

Chapter 5 - TD1… "Engine ECM Modification (Tuning)"
*****These are screenshots of the Audi side of things, it is absolutely 100% identical to the Volkswagen side, ELSA is the same program for both brands*****

When an Audi/VW comes in for service one of the first things the that happens is the ELSA PRO is opened and the VIN number is entered. When you enter the VIN it will show if there are any open campaigns (Recalls, Service Actions, and Updates as listed in the last section) but it will also reveal customer info, warranty info, repair history (anything done at a dealership paid by the manufacturer will show up), etc. In the case of this chipped S4 there is an exclamation point next to vehicle data.

When you click on vehicle data it shows… drum roll please… vehicle data! In this case it tells you, clear as day, that the vehicle has been chipped. As you can see to the right of the picture it even reveals the date and mileage of when it was detected that the ECM has been chipped. This is the same place it will show if it has a salvaged or totalled title.

Now let's talk about how a VIN number get flagged with a TD1 code. I’ve read all sorts of thing that people have imagined up about how this works; from the dealership flagging the VIN because you have an intake all the way to tuners reporting your VIN numbers back to VW/Audi. How it happens is actually very simple, there is nothing a dealership does to intentionally throw you under the bus. The dealership does NOT have the ability to manually “flag” a vehicle that has been modified, the entire process of flagging a VIN with TD1 code is completely behind the scenes and unintentional and unannounced at the dealership level. The way warranty has worked since 2004 with Audi/VW is that you are REQUIRED by the manufacturer to submit a GFF (Guided Fault Finding) log online with any and all warranty repairs for engine, transmission, or electrical related warranty claims. If it’s a mechanical suspension problem there’s no reason to submit a GFF log but if it’s anything that throws a fault in ANY system a GFF log is required or the manufacturer will deny the warranty claim and the dealership eats the cost. If the dealer eats the cost because the tech did not provide adequate documentation, the tech does not get paid for the work they did. Obviously the tech does not want to work for free, therefore GFF log are ALWAYS sent in to ensure payment on warranty repairs. Anytime you run a GFF log or you perform an SVM (software) update the scan tool records all sorts of hidden data and sends it back to the manufacturer. That’s how a VIN gets flagged with TD1, it’s not the dealership telling on you, it’s the factory scan tool detecting something not factory in the software and reporting it back to the manufacturer.

Putting it in stock mode and locking the ECM. Some people have gotten the impression that they can switch their tune “stock” mode and “lock” it and somehow that makes it undetectable… or even worse, that if it’s “locked” the tune can’t be overwritten/flashed back to stock by the dealer. I don’t know how people came up with that or why people think that but it's 100% false. It doesn’t matter what mode it’s in or if it’s locked or unlocked, it has absolutely ZERO effect on the scan tool's ability to detect the tune or the dealerships ability to overwrite your aftermarket software. If your ECM is flashed and locked all that means is someone can’t change the mode without without the password… and literally nothing else.

The evolution of TD1… back when shit hit the fan when I posted this thread
It started off as saying “TD1 - Motor SG geaendert”. It then became “TD1 - Engine ECM Modification (Tuning)”. It eventually evolved to Volkswagen (Audi has not done this **yet**) emailing every single dealership technician the link to a video that every single VW tech will have to watch in order to get/maintain their certification for the year that shows how to see if vehicle has been chipped. There is officially no more hiding it and no more untrained employees who didn’t how to figure it out. You know it's flashed, I know it's flashed, the dealership knows, the manufacturer knows, everybody knows.

Chapter 6 - We all know I’m chipped, who cares, they can’t void my warranty without proving my modifications broke the car.
Stop. Seriously, stop it right there. I hate to admit it but I used to be naive enough to think that was the case as well. If it makes you feel better most people (even “mod friendly” dealer techs) have no idea how the always misconstrued Magnuson-Moss Act applies in real life. People like to talk about it like it's some golden ticket to modify cars. People love claiming the dealership has to "PROVE" modifications caused the problem/failure because they’ve heard it over and over that it's how it all works. It's just simply not true. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time talking with the guy who goes to court on behalf of Volkswagen in the case of buybacks, “thermal events” (when things catch fire), and warranty denials and I got to grill him on some fact vs fiction warranty stuff. The Magnuson-Moss Act goes all the way back to the 5th paragraph of chapter 1 where I said that last part was important and we'd come back to it… we’re coming back to it.

The purpose of the Magnuson-Moss Act is so legally protect a consumer from a manufacturer trying to void your warranty for using aftermarket parts or services without proving it to be the cause of the failure. The confusion seems to stem from the term "aftermarket.” Aftermarket does not mean aftermarket modifications made to a vehicle, it applies only to direct replacement and maintenance parts made by somebody other than the manufacturer. If the manufacturer tries to say your warranty is void because you got your oil changed at Jiffy Lube instead of at a dealership, the Magnuson-Moss Act would protect you and they would have to prove that the aftermarket oil change caused whatever failed to fail. If you modify their product to perform outside of it's original specified operating range they have ZERO obligation to "prove" that your modifications caused of the failure. If you push it all the way to court, it's as simple as "it wasn't designed for that” and it’s an open and shut case. It still holds true they can't deny warranty coverage on something unrelated, if you have a chipped ECM and your radio display stops working they still need to cover your radio under warranty. But, when you modify the engine to add power the burden of proof is no longer on them for ANY powertrain failure because it wasn't designed to handle the higher loads and stresses than the factory stock XXXhp provides. Legally making anything operate outside of it’s factory stock specified range that is reason enough that the manufacturer does not have to honor the warranty.

That being said, modifications are not a clear cut, black and white voided warranty. The only way to flat out “void the warranty” is if it has a salvage or totalled title.

Last edited by DBESTGTI; 09-22-2016 at 09:03 PM.
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