We have all seen vehicle modifications at some point in our travels. How about the Honda Civic that had to have had an air suspension kit installed with how slammed to the ground the undercarriage looked resting on the pavement of the mall parking lot or the monster trucks at Monster Jam; these were all stock vehicles at some point in their lives. Modifications are a great way of customizing your vehicle to reflect your personality or represent what you want your persona to appear like to others. The Ram truck is a prime example of a model that looks and performs great with all sorts of different modifications. Unfortunately, if you have a Certified Pre-Owned Ram, there are a few dos and don’ts regarding modifications to a vehicle with a warranty.
Modifications and Your Warranty
If you own your Ram pickup with an expired warranty, you have nothing to worry about when you feel like modifying your truck. You can make as many upgrades as you want with only needing to be mindful of your state’s laws regarding having a roadworthy vehicle so that you can keep your Ram registered. If you are okay with having a trailer queen that needs towing everywhere and can only drive on roads and in off-road parks where you do not need a registered vehicle, then your modification options are endless.
On the other hand, if your Ram still has a dealership or factory warranty on it, you may need to be more cautious with your modification choices. If you leased your Ram, that is a whole different ball game, and modifying it is typically not recommended unless you plan on buying it after your lease, and even then, you need to know the dos and don’ts in your contract. But when there is a warranty, you need to worry about the possibility of your upgrades voiding at least part of your Ram’s warranty.
Although contrary to popular belief, not every modification will void the warranty. When a warranty claim arises on your modified truck, there needs to be proof that the modification was the cause of the issue before the claim can be denied. If the modification is found at fault for the repairs needed, anything affected by that modification will not be covered under warranty any longer; everything else will still be covered. It is in your best interest to study and understand your vehicle’s warranty before adding any alterations to know what risks you are taking before any modifications.
In 1975, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) passed into federal law the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. This act forces product manufacturers and distributors to provide buyers with clear and detailed warranty information that they must abide by. Without this law, consumers would be in the dark on what their warranties cover, and there would be nothing in place to hold manufacturers and their distributors accountable for their end of the warranty.
The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act also has a provision that prevents the warrantor from forcing specific products, whether from certain distributors or brands, or services, on the consumer under the warranty unless it is provided for free or is proven to be necessary for the vehicle’s proper function or safety. This provision also gives buyers more flexibility with who they choose to perform maintenance repairs on the vehicle. Now the question is, are consumers protected against non-maintenance breaches of warranty within this law?
Under this law, the vehicle manufacturer or distributor has the right to refuse to cover, under warranty, repairs caused by someone else’s parts and installation. Included are modifications, as long as there is proof that the aftermarket parts were the cause for the needed repairs. Meaning, if you pay for an aftermarket lift kit and your engine starts knocking the next day, then your warranty will likely still cover the repairs unless they can prove that somehow that lift caused your Ram to misfire. Because of this law, you have the right to upgrade, customize, and modify your Ram truck, within reason, without voiding your warranty, as long as you read the fine print and your modifications aren’t the cause of future damage.
Modifications to Play It Safe
With plenty of gray areas regarding your vehicle’s warranty, there are a few safer routes you can take to showcase personality in your stock, Certified Pre-Owned Ram without an increased risk of voiding the warranty. Be smart with your modifications. Don’t use parts you don’t know about or ones that haven’t proven good results for others, and have a professional mechanic install them for you. Utilize and study your warranty information to figure out what is covered under warranty so you can figure out what modifications you can make without risking the warranty.
Adding fender flares to your Ram is an example of a low-risk modification you can make without sacrificing warranty. These will add character to your truck but will also be beneficial to you and might be required by your state if you decide to put wider tires on it for better functionality off-road. Tires are another easy modification with little potential for alternative damage that you can add to your truck. Paint and wraps are other options, both of which change the look of your Ram dramatically. Even adding road armor like a push bumper, rear window guard, and rock sliders, which will be beneficial on the aggressive trails and for everyday use as side steps for easier access to the cab if needed, are low-risk modification options for you.
Ultimately, you have plenty of low-risk choices for modifying your Ram truck without sacrificing your warranty or raising any red flags if a claim is needed. Another safe option is to get the parts from a manufacturer or dealer if possible, or at least have them install the modifications since they will likely not install upgrades that could void the warranty. Your other option would be to find an aftermarket parts supplier who will warranty your purchase so that you will have some coverage on your modification if something happens that could interfere with your truck’s warranty coverage.
Living On the Edge Modifying Your Ram
On the other hand, maybe you are a risk-taking gambler and want to utilize your Certified Pre-Owned Ram truck to its fullest potential with the biggest and beefiest modifications available. Or the warranty has finally expired on your truck, and you are ready to make the customizations you were unable to previously. No matter the reason, if you are enthusiastic about making some modifications that the Ram wears better than most, you have options.
One of the most common modifications you see in trucks, in general, that looks even better on a Ram is a lift. For lifting choices, there are suspension lifts that are better for functionality with work trucks and off-roading, and body lifts, which are mostly just for show, unless you only want to install a leveling kit that will raise your front end to match your stock rear. A lift kit should not cause damage to your truck, per se, as long as you have the compatible kit for your Ram installed and have it installed properly. The dealer, however, will likely still try to deny warranty coverage for parts like ball bearings and try to prove you pushed the suspension past factory limits. Although it will be difficult to prove the lift is at fault, if appealing a denial is not something you want to go through, you may want to avoid a lift kit altogether.
Along the same lines as a lift kit, the Ram trucks look pretty rugged with a set of tank tracks. Sure, an upgrade to tank tracks will make driving in the snow a whole lot easier, but they will also look pretty awesome off-road in general. You won’t be using tank tracks daily on your Ram, but if something needs repair under warranty, you can bet similar to the lift, you will likely need to appeal a denial of coverage. Caution also needs to be taken when adding upgrades to increase engine performance. If the dealer suspects you have misused your truck based on your modifications and can prove it, whether off-road or racing, that usually voids your warranty as well.
The Best Advice: Be Smart
It cannot be stressed enough; be smart about your modifications. If you plan on modifying your Ram truck, you need to know what you can and cannot do. Some modifications deem your vehicle unroadworthy, meaning you cannot use it as a daily driver, and you are limited to where you can drive it all together. If you have a Certified Pre-Owned Ram truck or any truck with a warranty, well, you may even be more limited on what you can and can’t do without voiding your warranty. Before you modify your Ram truck to be the biggest and best rock crawler or the most unique, do your research and just be smart about your modification choices and how they might affect its warranty because they might just come back to hit your Ram in the rear end.