Performance Software and Your Volkswagen Warranty

October 2, 2012

Very often people talk about dealerships voiding peoples warranty due to modifications to their vehicle. This is a pretty delicate subject so it is best to ensure you read the entire article and take in all info before taking any action based on this info. It is the intention of this article to explain how a warranty works and why this presents a difficulty


A warranty covers the vehicle in the event there is a premature failure of an item. The failure will be covered under warranty (assuming you’re under the bumper to bumper warranty) as long as there was no outside influence causing the failure. This is where there becomes a grey area when your vehicle is modified.


Problems with the Dealership and your VW warrantyMany times you may come across a dealership who may give you a hard time about your modified vehicle. Lets take a minute so we can understand their perspective to see why this is a tough situation they are in.


To many dealers working on a vehicle that has been modified creates a lot of unknowns. For this reason it can create some roadblocks when they are attempting to diagnose a problem. Some dealers may have been left with a bad taste in their mouth about modifications. This usually happens when a customer brings in a vehicle that is modified and the customer does not disclose that it is modified. They then have a technician spend countless hours to diagnose a problem, only to find out that the vehicle is modified and that they will need to remove the modification to properly diagnose the vehicle. The dealer will not be paid for this diagnostic time.


If your local dealer will not work on modified cars, or will nit-pick over insignificant modifications it is best to choose another dealer close by who is willing to work with you.Asking your dealer to defraud VW does not fall under the previous statement, and should never be asked of your dealership. If you have done something that has caused an issue you must accept the repercussions of your actions. If you have no choice but to work with that dealer because there are no other dealers nearby (sometimes rural areas only have one dealer), then it is best to be upfront and try to work with them. If the Service Advisor is not willing to work with you, then it is best to speak with the Manager. Please keep in mind being rude does not make people want to help you so be as nice as you can (yes even if they are not being nice to you). If you can’t resolve this issue at the dealer level you can call customer care. Keep in mind that Volkswagen does have a process to flag modified cars. If you call customer care you can almost be sure this will happen. The purpose of flagging modified cars for VW is to keep someone who has attempted to take advantage of VW at one dealer from continuing to jump dealers until they can trick someone into performing a repair they should not.


How do I know if a dealer is modified friendly? It is becoming more common for dealership to embrace performance tuning. For this reason some dealers have become distributors for performance software vendors such as APR, Revo, and Unitronic to name a few. The best place to start would be to see if any dealers near you offer these services. If you get your car serviced at a dealer who offers Revo it will be easier to get your car worked on there if you have a problem. They can remove the software to diagnose an issue and put it back on once they have confirmed it is not software related. If there is not any that offer these services then you can just call up and ask. “Do you work on modified vehicle?” This is a harmless question that you will get a lot of info based on how they respond. Its best to ask a service advisor as they will be able to give you the most info on this subject.


The real 100% truth about aftermarket parts and warranties Anytime you install a part that is not approved by the original manufacturer the vehicle warranty has potential to be partially voided. An item not being covered under warranty is generally a result of the aftermarket item that was installed being the cause of a problem. This can sometimes be a direct, or indirect result of the particular install. The grey area comes in as what would be considered an indirect result.
Example of indirect result of a warranty being void


You have a 2012 Jetta. You put a new head unit , 3 12” subwoofers and a 3000 watt amp. Everything is working great 3 months later your alternator goes bad. The alternator should not be an item covered under warranty. This is not always 100% clear this is the cause but generally this would not be covered.

Why shouldn’t this be covered? Installing a stereo system like this puts a large strain on the alternator in the vehicle. When a vehicle is being designed an engineer chooses and alternator that puts out enough amperage to support the systems the vehicle is designed to run. When you add a huge draw to the system(like the new stereo system) you put much more stress on the alternator than it is intended for. This will cause the alternator to die prematurely as it is working beyond its potential constantly.
Example of a direct result
You have the same 2012 Jetta and you have Performance Software installed on the vehicle. Everything is working great, and 3 months down the road your Engine Control Module(ECM) goes bad. The ECM has been directly modified and in no way can be covered under warranty.
Why shouldn’t this be covered?
The part that has failed on your vehicle is one that has been directly modified. This item should not be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty as this part was modified. While this scenario is incredibly rare and unlikely, it is possible, and should be considered when making a decision to modify your vehicle.

Hopefully this article has given you all the info you need to understand VW warranties and how they work. This should help you in making the most educated decision when choosing a dealership and how to modify your car.

For the legalities behind warranties look here



This article in no way reflects any views of Volkswagen of America or and of its Dealers this is only the opinion of an individual.

Paul Barrett


CEO | Ex Dealer Technician | VW Audi Parts Savant | Father | Husband | Chipotle Enthusiast
Creating a VW and Audi Parts Company that Cares

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