WASHINGTON—Aftermarket organizations including the Auto Care Association and the Tire Industry Association are pleased with the Federal Trade Commission's final consent decree against the Mini Division of BMW of North America L.L.C. for violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
The FTC voted 4-0 on Oct. 22 to approve the consent order, seven months after BMW and commission staff agreed to it.
According to the FTC, the Mini Division violated Magnuson-Moss when it told car buyers their warranties would be void if they took their vehicles to repair shops other than those at Mini dealerships, or used parts not specified by Mini.
Under terms of the consent decree, BMW and the Mini Division may not require car buyers to perform routine maintenance at Mini dealerships, unless they can substantiate that requirement with competent and reliable scientific evidence.
BMW and the Mini Division also must notify car buyers of their right to use third-party parts and service, unless BMW and Mini offers those parts or services for free. This notice must also be posted on the miniusa.com website.
The consent order remains in effect for 20 years, the FTC said.
In an Oct. 21 letter to the ACA, TIA and the Automotive Oil Change Association, the FTC set out the parameters of the consent order. All three associations, as well as others, had complained to the commission about the Mini Division's warranty practices.
“The relief set forth in the consent does not address only Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act violations, but also prohibits BMW, in the sale of Mini goods or services, from misrepresenting their vehicles, in order to operate safely or maintain value, must have maintenance work performed by a Mini dealer,” the FTC said.
“More broadly, it prohibits BMW from misrepresenting any warranty or maintenance requirements of any Mini good or service,” it said.
In a Nov. 4 news release, the ACA applauded the FTC's actions.
“The Auto Care Association is grateful to see that, following a public comment period, the FTC has closed the chapter on this extreme Magnuson-Moss violation,” said ACA President and CEO Kathleen Schmatz.