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.
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.
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.
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.
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"