Your emails: What are the rules around modding your car?
Cooley On Cars
I'm Brian Cooley from CNet on Cars, taking another one of your emails about high tech cars and modern driving.
This one comes in from Dr. Ron in Reno, Nevada.
He says some of us like to add equipment to our cars that the manufacturer only offered on a more expensive model or not at all.
Case in point, he says.
I put BMWs own night vision system into his 2016 328I Sportswagon.
That's a model that doesn't offer BMW night vision, pretty creative.
He used an independent shop after the dealer said they wouldn't do it, and told him it would void his warranty.
He said they did have to sacrifice my cup holders to make room for the LCD screen.
You can see some of those photos there to where he put the screen and where he put the front center.
He says could you explain to your audience how the 1975 Moss-Magnuson Warranty Warranty Act affects consumers who choose to add options or obtain service not or provided by the manufacturer.
Interesting topic Ron, this is so big and wavy I'm actually gonna do a whole Car Tech 101 on it in our next episode, episode 80.
For the meantime, let me give you a couple of quick pointers here on the three entities I'd have something to say about this.
First of all, as you mentioned, the Magnuson-Moss Act Warranty Act of 1975, this one's enforced by the FDC, the Federal Trade Commission here in the US.
What Magnuson and Moss says is you don't have to use factory parts and you don't have to go to the dealer to get your work done To keep your car in warranty.
The caveat to that is if you go use after-market parts that are crap or go to a lousy independent shop, and either of those cause damage to the car, that is not under warranty.
The next one I wanna tell you about is what's called CPE insurance.
This is customer-provided equipment.
It's an insurance industry term.
You are insured in your insurance policy for the stuff that the factory put on the car.
If you go and say, add a fancy tire and wheel package to your car or add a completely cool, aftermarket stainless exhaust and that gets Gets damaged in a collision, it may not be covered.
The insurance strictly covers what was put there by the factory, for the most part.
Anything substantial beyond that may not be in your coverage.
You gotta look for the CPE language in your policy, and or see if your insurer requires you to take out a separate CPE rider To cover these specific things you've added.
It's kind of like adding jewelry to your home insurance policy.
You know how that works, you got to sometimes do declared special coverage above and beyond the basics.
And the third and final one here is more of an outlier but becoming a big topic lately and that is the DMCA, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Which has lately been interpreted to say that if you go into a car and change its firmware, it's software that lives on chips, you are in theory breaking the DMCA.
You're breaking a copyright law that says you can't reverse engineer or hack into that technology, that intellectual property.
Which the carmaker has burned into the chips in your car.
The most recent interpretations though are saying you have the right to at least go into the firmware to diagnose a car, and work in the code of the vehicle, you dont have to stay out of there and leave it to the dealer.
But a lot of the stuff is being tested and figured out right now.
We'll talk more about it in Car Tech 101 80 in our next episode.
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