Magnusson Moss Law and antifreeze

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69
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Ormond Beach,FL
I have been reading about the various types of antifreeze and reading some of my car manuals. Certain manufacturers such as Honda specify their coolant needs to be used to maintain the car warranty. Doesn't the Magnusson Moss law guarantee our right to choice specifying that there must be an equivalent alternative to being forced to buy thru the company?
 

Kestas

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The Motor City
I don't have the answer, but a thought that crossed my mind is, "What if nobody else makes a product that fits that specification?" In other words, is the manufacturer responsible for the fact that nobody else has decided to manufacture and market a similar product that meets spec? On a practical note, once the car is out of warranty, I don't think it really matters which antifreeze you use. All manufacturers use pretty much the same materials in their cooling systems (copper, brass, or aluminum in the radiators and heater core.... cast iron blocks... cast aluminum heads... rubber hoses).
 
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1,088
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Baltimore, MD
As I understand it, the law says that if a manufacturer requires a particular product to keep the warranty, the manufacturer must provide that product free of charge. If they don't give you it free of charge, you can use something of your choice... but I don't think you'll get very far in court by saying "I chose to use Diet Pepsi in my radiator". You have to use something meeting the specs that the manufacturer states. But if the mfr states that you have to use an antifreeze brand that starts with an "HO" and ends with "DA", seems a bit iffy. Whichever party is willing to pay the most for lawyers will probably be the winner in reality.
 

harthamm

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69
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Ormond Beach,FL
I would think that the ingredients of these companies are proprietary and the specifics are not made public. At least with oils we have a standard to meet (ie- VW 502 or japanese or SM).
 
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4,478
Location
Southern California
Proprietary products do NOT have to be supplied free of charge. However, automaker BRAND name products, for which there are licensed equivalents, would have to be provided free of charge. In other words, Toyota doesn't have to give you genuine Toyota T-IV ATF. There's no licensed aftermarket equivalent. But Ford would have to give you Motorcraft Mercon ATF if it attempted to prevent you from using SuperTech Dexron III/Mercon ATF. In the case of proprietary Japanese coolants, the situation is muddied during warranty. The big-three Japanese auto companies use essentially identical chemistry - OAT with a stiff dose of phosphate for hybrid corrosion protection. There are no aftermarket automotive coolants with identical chemistry. So, for your Japanese car, you can either use the manufacturer-mandated coolant or you can choose to ignore the owner's manual by using a DEX-COOL, a conventional high-silicate antifreeze, or a G-05 (OAT plus silicates as hybrid protection) product. But in the event of cooling sytem problems under warranty, don't expect the automaker to bail you out. For a Japanese car out of warranty I wouldn't hesitate to pour DEX-COOL or G-05 (a slight preference for the latter) in after a thorough water flush of the system.
 

harthamm

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69
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Ormond Beach,FL
Thankyou. It's interesting that the alternative needs to be officially licensed. In this case one wonders whether , even for a fee, the manufacturer will provide license. It doesn't seem we have much protection.
 
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6,171
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
Yeah I always wondering since my GF got her 96 Civic, b/c the PS fluid, brake, radiator, ATF/MTF specify Honda fluid only. It says use of non-Honda fluids can cause damage to the system. So they don't have to give me free fluids? Darn.
 

Kestas

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The Motor City
Harthamm brings up a good point. If a manufacturer refuses to grant a license for somebody, couldn't the vendor simply say their product meets a certain manufacturer's spec?... as opposed to saying their product is approved by the manufacturer. I believe this was the case with Zerex G-05 antifreeze. Until recently, Zerex said G-05 meets the requirements for Mercedes... only recently has it been approved by Mercedes. I think we're mincing words here, but that's what these legalities are all about.
 

harthamm

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69
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Ormond Beach,FL
Kestas' point parallels motor oil. For example, AMSOIL meets VW 502, yet is not VW approved. As consumers we are caught in the middle with no or limited options. Does anyone know which antifreeze companies meet japanese or vw specifications?
 
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4,478
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Southern California
If an automaker refuses to grant a license, you can be assured it won't publish the specifications for the proprietary fluid either. It thus becomes the burden of the car owner to prove his choice of fluid was really a functional equivalent to the proprietary fluid in the event of component failure and subsequent warranty claim denial. I leave it to you, dear reader, to contemplate who's likely got the deeper pockets in this scenario. Even if that car owner is Bill Gates, it's still "Catch 22". How can our hypothetical, well-heeled, hapless car owner make a meaningful analytic comparison to an unpublished specification? Mercedes has used nothing but G-05 as factory and service fill for over two decades. What may have happened is the company is publically recognizing that aftermarket sources of G-05 products are just as acceptable for service fill as the same product in a "Mercedes" jug bought at stealership extortionist prices without their owners' jeopardizing their warranty rights. (Why? To avoid giving away Mercedes own brand G-05 concoction... [Wink] ) [ February 03, 2006, 05:39 PM: Message edited by: Ray H ]
 

harthamm

Thread starter
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69
Location
Ormond Beach,FL
Interestingly, I found this under FAQ's on Peak antifreeze's website: My owner’s manual instructs me to use a particular brand of antifreeze/coolant. Will my new car warranty automatically be voided if I use an aftermarket antifreeze/coolant that is different than the antifreeze/coolant brand identified by the manufacturer? No. Federal Law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, prohibits a manufacturer or dealer from voiding your warranty just because you have chosen to use an aftermarket antifreeze/coolant in your automobile. G. What is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act? It is a federal law passed in 1975 that assures that consumers receive accurate warranty information and that prohibits manufacturers, dealers and others from improperly and unjustly denying warranty coverage to consumers. H. May the manufacturer of my automobile require that I purchase and use its designated antifreeze/coolant in order to keep the warranty protection on my automobile? No. Requiring a consumer to buy a product from a particular company for use in your automobile in order to be eligible to receive protection under your owner’s warranty is an example of a “tie-in” provision. “Tie-in” sales provisions are generally prohibited under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. back to top
 

Kestas

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The Motor City
So it sounds that companies like Honda are scaring people into buying dealer products by implying they are needed "or the car will not be protected". They can still deny warranty claim and force you to sue, and only then will consumer's rights such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act have any teeth. Just think, how many people are willing to take these matters all the way to court? Auto dealers really have owners over a barrel, forcing them to buy dealer maintenance parts. A couple years ago I was looking at product data information from Mercedes antifreeze and Zerex G-05. Though very similar, both had very subtle differences in the formulation. The same product data sheet from Zerex listing the technical requirements Mercedes has of their antifreeze and how G-05 meets these requirements, item by item. This shows that at least Zerex knew what technical requirements Mercedes had of their antifreeze.
 
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4,478
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Southern California
harthamm, your post is interesting only insofar that it's unlikely the use of ANY brand of currently formulated antifreeze according to its blender's directions will result in actual damage to a cooling system. But, Peak is also sugar coating to obscurity a key provision of Magnuson-Moss that specifically excludes propietary fluids and parts whose substitution with fluids or components NOT meeting the automaker's specifications would jeopardize vehicle reliability or safety. (Can you say, "wrangling in gray areas"? Lawyers can. And when they're piling billable hours on your tab, they love to wrangle...) So, for the few bucks more the automaker's antifreeze costs every three-five years, is it really worth the hassle in case of a cooling system warranty claim? Being "right" is only part of the equation. Intentionally shooting yourself in the foot just to make a point is the other part. [ February 03, 2006, 06:02 PM: Message edited by: Ray H ]
 
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855
Location
Arizona
I find somewhat of a paradox in this whole thing. Are there any currently produced vehicles which specify a coolant change before the standard warranty expires? I'm not talking about the extended warranties available for purchase but the plain jane free of charge warranty that comes with the vehicle. I know for the last two vehicles I have purchased brand new the warranty would have passed by the time the maintenance schedule would have indicated a fluid flush and change.
 
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2,575
Location
Northeast
its not like were talking motor oil here.. honda produces some of the best engines in the world. they specifically suggest silicate free coolant, and the only type i can find is honda coolant. i dont know why anyone would want to use anything else when you have to do not have to change the coolant in hondas very often. interesting read on honda coolant, biased or not.
 
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1,562
Location
St. Paul, MN
First of all, Honda coolant cant be bad. In my years of working at an Acura dealership I could count the number of water pumps I have seen go bad on one hand. Very rarely I will see one come in with a weeping water pump gasket. I have never seen one with a bad/noisy bearing or leaking out of the weep hole. This may be a testament to the engineering of the cooling system, but the coolant must have something to do with it. Secondly, if a customer comes in with a leaking radiator, for example, and the car is under warranty, coolant is a non issue. There is no way we could definetively tell if the coolant was aftermarket or not. The radiator is bad, not the coolant. This issue NEVER comes up with warranty claims, be it with antifreeze, trans fluid, ps fluid, whatever. I have never seen any failure claim be denied due to fluid type. Use whatever fluid you feel works best. Most things dont go bad until the warranty is expired anyway.
 
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