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Posted by Jason Locke on 3/18/2014 to Informative Articles

By far and away the most frequently asked question when it comes to performance tuning of a given vehicle's Powertrain Control Module (PCM) or Engine Control Unit (ECU) is "will this void my warranty?" The short answer is yes, unequivocally and absolutely yes. Performance software tuning of your vehicle's computer will practically always void and Powertrain Warranty that your car or truck may or may not have. "But Stage 3," you say, "what about the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, running the vehicle through a drive cycle before I go into the dealer, or running down my battery to hide my tune?" There are some ways where you're still protected and ways that you can possibly hide a performance tune from the prying eyes of Ford and your dealership. So the long answer to the initial question is "yes, but..." The fact is that the whole tuning/warranty situation is pretty sticky and complex, but there is a good reason that we at Stage 3 tell you that your warranty will definitely be voided while the other guys beat around the bush or even lie through their teeth: we're looking out for you and your vehicle's best interest.

SCT X4 Handheld Tuner

First, what does it actually mean when a "warranty is voided" by a tune. Well, your car or truck is covered by a manufacturer's warranty for basically every single component on your vehicle of choice. The specific warranty in question is your vehicle's Powertrain Warranty covering your engine, transmission, driveline, and their various components. When a warranty is "voided", it's specifically related to your vehicle's Powertrain and its related components. Meaning if you tune your vehicle and your window regulator goes out, your window regulator would still be replaced under warranty, given that it's not a system that's effected by a tune. So, when we say your vehicle's warranty is voided by a tune, it doesn't mean that Ford and your dealership will completely kick you to the curb. They just won't cover any Powertrain-related repair of replacement if they discover that your vehicle has a performance tune in it or has ran performance tuning in the past.

2011-2014 Mustang 5.0L Coyote Crate Engine

Now, you may hear something or other about being protected by the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, which you technically are, since the Act requires a burden of proof from the manufacturer or dealer that a particular aftermarket part, accessory, or tune led to an engine failure or other issue. That being said, Ford and dealerships have much more money and a much larger legal team than you, and a drawn-out court battle with a judge that may or may not understand some of the finer points of the aftermarket or tuning will more than likely cost you more than new motor and still leave you footing the bill for full crate engine or long block if something catastrophic did in fact occur. So, while you're technically "protected" to some extent, the real-world practical issues leave a lot to be desired. Still, if you put a tune in your vehicle, but have a problem with something that is totally unrelated to the tune or powertrain (i.e. your window regulator, door locks, A/C, power steering, etc.), then those repairs would be covered.

SCT Livewire Tuner & Dashboard Monitor

We'll be honest with you, there are a few ways to "hide" a tune from your dealer, at least, depending on the model. If you're able to return your vehicle to its stock tune with your tuning device and then complete a full drive cycle of anywhere from 50 to 100 miles (depending on the vehicle and its modifications), then your past tune generally won't be detected at a dealership level. While that's all well and good, you're going to have a hell of a time completing a drive cycle with a hole in your block from a thrown rod while pouring oil everywhere except where it needs to be. While we've heard that discharging your battery completely in the event of totally blown motor can also hide a tune, that's sill remarkably fishy, and any dealership worth a damn is going to send your vehicle's computer off to Ford for further analysis. Which brings us to our second point: even if you do manage to sneak a tune past your dealership, you won't get it past Ford itself. If Ford requests a PCM or ECU be sent to them in regards to a warranty claim, they'll go through its software and firmware line by line, piece of code by piece of code, and ff there's anything there to find, they will find it, and it's going to ruin your day. You may say "But this dude or that person on the forum got away with it!" Good for them, but the risk is always there.

Stage 3's 2011 F150 EcoBoost on the Dyno

So, that's why we here at Stage 3 tell you up front that a tune, custom tune, or a particular part will void your warranty up front. In the end, we care more about what's best for you and your vehicle than making a sale. With as much confidence that we have that the tuners we personally use for our custom tuning and general performance tunes won't harm your engine, we want you to know up front the risks and possible issues that may result from tuning your vehicle. We earnestly believe that our tunes and custom tunes can last a well-maintained vehicle its entire life, but manufacturing errors, weird environmental conditions, or malfunctions do occur. If you have any further questions or concerns, give us a call at 1-877-578-2433, and we'll be glad to talk to you.

UPDATED 10-8-2014:

We here at Stage 3 are now offering optional Aftermarket Powertrain Warranties for 2011 to 2014 F150s that use 5-Star's Custom Tuning. These warranties will also cover a huge variety of performance parts and accessories in case your local dealership decides to not cover repairs under warranty due to your tuning, performance parts, or both.

Vehicles Supported by our Warranties:

  • 2011-2014 F150 3.5L EcoBoost V6
  • 2011-2014 F150 3.7L V6
  • 2011-2014 F150 5.0L V8
  • 2011-2014 F150 6.2L V8
  • 2011-2014 SVT Raptor 6.2L V8

Vehicles NOT supported by our Warranties:

  • 2011-2014 Mustang GT 5.0L V8
  • 2011-2014 Mustang 3.7L V6
  • 2007-2012 Shelby GT500 5.4L V8
  • 2013-2014 Shelby GT500 5.8L V8
  • 2005-2010 Mustang GT 4.6L V8
  • 2005-2010 Mustang 4.0L V6
  • 1996-2004 Mustang GT 4.6L V8
  • 2004 Mustang 3.9L V6
  • 1994-2004 Mustang 3.8L V6
  • 1994-1995 Mustang GT 5.0L
  • 1987-1993 Mustang 5.0L
  • 1987-1993 Mustang 2.3L I4
  • Pre-1987 Mustangs
  • 2013-2014 Focus ST 2.0L
  • 2010-2014 Taurus SHO 3.5L EcoBoost
  • 2013-2014 Fusions
  • Any other vehicle not listed under "Supported Vehicles"
For more detailed information on these warranties, check out our Warranty Blog Post, read our Warranty Packet, or give us a call directly at 1-877-578-2433.

Comments

Date: 5/23/2014
David Kendrick
I just ran across your article on the computer. Too late I might add. I just purchased and installed a Steeda tune and CAI using the SCT X4. At present I have to say that the car is running much, much better than stock. However, having said that I am now concerned about the unforeseen future. I have a (2014)6 month old Mustang GTCS with about 1,650 miles on her. Had I read your article before I purchased this and installed it I would NEVER have installed it. Steeda says and I quote "Your New Car Warranty is Safe with Steeda Parts". Steeda says that this is because they work closely with Ford. if I remove the CAi and "detune" the ECM and drive it 50, 100, or even 200 miles will this reset the ECM for future reference and warranty work or am I potentially screwed because of Steeda's play on words? Thank you very much.
Reply
Date: 5/28/2014
Jason@Stage3
Here's the thing: the chances of something happening to a 5.0L Coyote (especially one with just a tune and an intake) are pretty slim. While your local dealership could still give you a hard time about the CAI and tune, Ford would likely cover any powertrain repairs under warranty anyway. The real issue that we've had to deal with both personally and with customers is that there's a MASSIVE disconnect between what Ford Motor Company says and does, versus what happens at the dealership level. If you are concerned (and frankly, I wouldn't be if I were you), you can give us a call directly at 1-877-578-2433, and we can go over your options.
Reply
Date: 11/4/2014
TJ HAJCAK
I have a 2014 Mustang GT which i just purchased.It has 14,000 highway miles on it.If I put the Phase 4 on I shouldn't have a problem with the engine as far as something being caused by adding the Phase 4 ? How loud is that exhaust ? As far as tuner goes,I'm new to that and not to computer savey.Is it hard to do.Does it come with directions to tune it for the Phase 4 ? Thank you.
Reply
Date: 11/4/2014
Jason@Stage3
@TJ HAJCAK: Whether or not you'll have a problem has more to do with how well that engine was maintained. While the Coyote 5.0Ls can take some abuse, they do require maintenance to keep running strong. Ideally, you should be fine if your engine's in good shape. Frankly, the Phase 4 Package isn't really pushing it all that hard. The exhaust components will make your Mustang extremely loud. The X4 tuner is extremely easy to use, and comes with the required custom tune already loaded on the device.
Reply
Date: 10/6/2015
Brian Freeth
Do you offer a tune with warranty for a 2015 sho?
Reply
Date: 12/28/2015
justin
i have 2013 f150 ecoboost i installed the phase 4 package on my truck . I"ve run the upgrades a little less than a year. upon getting inspection I failed emissions.My check engine light is on now and its time to get inspection.Not sure what to do ive spent alot of money on these upgrades.
Reply
1/28/2018 5:38:00 PM
Todd
You’re screwed. That’s what you get for screwing around with your engine. Your car was designed around specific components, tolerances, and specifications. I don’t feel bad for anyone who does aftermarket upgrades and then something goes wrong with their vehicle.
Date: 4/27/2016
John Fugate
What happened to the performance packs you guys were offering?? It had it everything you needed..
Reply
Date: 6/25/2016
Tanner Rempel
will you be offering tunes and warranty for 2.3L ecoboost mustangs? after reading this I'm thinking of buying a tune from you guys instead of my other choice
Reply
Date: 6/25/2016
Tanner Rempel
will you be offering tunes and warranty for 2.3L ecoboost mustangs? after reading this I'm thinking of buying a tune from you guys instead of my other choice
Reply
Date: 2/23/2017
K.Wright
Hello, I have a 2012 Mustang Shelby GT500 with 35,000 miles on it. The car has a Ford factory extended warranty for another 5 years or total of 100,000 miles. Obviously, that's a lot of years and mileage left. I've had a SCT tuner on my old F250 Powerstroke and really liked it. So... I'm interested in the X4, but like everyone else, I'm concerned about it voiding my warranty. What's your thoughts? The only aftermarket modifications to the car is a Gibson cat back exhaust system. I'm not looking for massive gains in hp (obviously, the 5.4L SC motor already makes 550hp). I just want enough to set me apart for the pack.
Reply
2/24/2017 3:27:00 PM
K. Wright
Never mind. I'm too scared to risk it. I think I'll wait.
Date: 2/25/2017
Tony Whitlatch
How about just the afe cold air intake, by adding it to my truck would the warranty be voided?
Reply
Date: 11/17/2017
John
I have a 2008 4.6L GT., with standard 5 speed trans. It has 25K miles and runs excellent. I simply want to tune it for best performance at 4800ft above sea level. I do not hotrod the car and baby the hell out of it, however, I would like a faster exceleration between shifts without popping the clutch. I have the K&E intake mod installed. Would a tune be the best way to get a bit more muscle as noted or would it shorten engine life in some way?
Reply
Date: 12/14/2017
Dave
Just wanted to chime in here. I have a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. I had a tune installed in February 2017 for a few thousand miles but saw no difference so I restored the defaults. 3 weeks ago (December 2017) a bearing in my engine blew apart after driving 15k miles without a tune and it was decided that my engine needed to be replaced. Chrysler asked for the PCM and discovered that a modification had been previously performed. Even though the tune was installed for less than 1k miles, they voided my powertrain warranty and will not replace the engine. I'm not sure if I am covered under the federal warranty act but for the time being I'll be handling the repair bill. I've reached out to a few lawyers to see if there is anything to be done but I'm not expecting anything in my favor. I had 76k miles on my vehicle and the powertrain warranty expires at 100k. That being said; my Jeep was a POS from day 1 and I was in the shop about 4 - 5 times a year having recalls and repairs done. They were quick repairs and never the same problem so I was never eligible for a Lemon Law case. I wouldn't hesitate to install a tune again but I would only do so on a car that has proven to be reliable at first. If any repairs needed to be done in the first year of ownership then you should second guess any tuning or modification. Hope this helps.
Reply
1/28/2018 5:44:00 PM
Todd
I’ve no sympathy for you. How come you don’t understand that your engine components were designed with specific tolerances and specifications? You decided to change those specifications thinking you knew more than the engineers who designed the vehicle. You were wrong and you are now paying the price. So quit whining.
Date: 1/17/2018
Kerry
Some products on your site such as the power play claim they are undetectable and do not leave a footprint in the factory computer. Are those just lies? I've seen some tuners claim they are altering sensor readings. How does Ford see traces of those types of tuners if the computer firmware is not altered? I'm guessing they look at logs of sensor readings? Thanks for the help I'm trying to decide if I want to alter my 2017 F250 diesel. I had wanted to enhance the responsiveness after upgrading from a tuned 2008 F250. I hate to say but the 2017 performs like a slug compared to my old truck. Looking for quicker acceleration around town when not towing, but don't want to void my power train warranty.
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