Warranties Against Biodiesel Use Might Be Invalid

John Davis

How much biodiesel can you run in your diesel-powered vehicle? Well, some manufacturers warn that if you use more than a 5 percent blend, you’ll void your warranty.

But this interesting post on the New York Times’ Green Inc. Blog says there might be some question about whether the auto companies can restrict warranties based on the fuel you use… including biodiesel:

In an e-mail message discussing the new TDI clean diesel technology, Steve Keyes, Volkswagen’s director of public relations, stated “All Volkswagen TDI models are warranted for the use of up to a B5 blend. Blends of biodiesel higher than B5 void the Volkswagen warranty.”

But apparently it’s not all that clear cut.

According to a statement drafted by the Northwest Biofuels Association and the Oregon Auto Dealer’s Association, the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, a 1975 federal statute governing car warranties, prohibits any auto manufacturer from voiding a car’s warranty based on the type of fuel used in that car.

From the joint statement:

A vehicle’s warranty cannot be voided solely due to the use of biodiesel. Even if the manufacturer recommends a blend of 5% biodiesel and a customer uses a higher blend such as 20% or 99% biodiesel, this does not void the warranty. If a customer uses a blend of biodiesel that is not recommended, that in and of itself, does not void the warranty. If the biodiesel is not the cause of the engine or parts failure, the warranty must be honored (assuming the failure is not the result of another external factor).

The post goes on to point out that critics have long argued that car makers were setting biodiesel limits without actually testing to see what engines could take.

Then again, in this economy, who feels adventurous enough to run their own tests on a new vehicle… and see if your dealer will replace it if it breaks down. My guess is you’d never have to worry as long as you ran tested, proven biodiesel.

Biodiesel, Car Makers