You’re really enjoying your new Subaru Outback; the fuel economy is awesome, it’s comfortable, and it’s got enough room for all your stuff. But now you want to lift it just a bit so you can take it on even more adventures. You’ve no doubt wondered “is lifting my Subaru going to void my warranty?” The answer is yes and no. It depends on a few things and we’ll explore them each.
Warranties are Intended to Cover Defects
First, let’s understand what a warranty is and what it’s for. While we expect manufacturers to stand behind their products and to provide us with quality vehicles, we can’t view warranties as a pass on abuse or free maintenance. Cars are built to withstand regular use and utility with specified maintenance intervals. But if we begin to modify our Subarus in order to use them for things they weren’t built to do, we have to anticipate paying for damages that occur.
What this means is that you can still modify your vehicle to a certain extent without voiding your warranty, but you need to be very considerate as you move forward. Even with unmodified cars, user error and abuse are not typically covered. If you take your car out to the track and fry the brakes, Subaru won’t cover the cost of repairs. Or if you are driving down the freeway at 65mph and accidentally shift down into second gear, Subaru will deny your request for warranty coverage on the destroyed engine and transmission.
The manufacturer’s warranty is a guarantee, an agreement, between you and the brand the vehicle will function properly under a set of service guidelines. If we go beyond their regulations and fail to maintain the vehicle properly, or use it for unintended purposes, you run the risk of voiding all or parts of your warranty.
Some Modifications Will Void Certain Aspects of the Warranty
Let’s consider CV axles and how they may handle the added pressure of a substantial strut lift without supporting mods (such as subframe spacers.) The axles may be put in a position that compromises their strength, causing them to fail prematurely. Subaru has every right to deny a customer’s claim if they are seeking warranty coverage for this. However, this does not mean that Subaru can suddenly deny future warranty claims on your engine or on the automatic window motors since they are not related to the suspension.
You might also run into issues if you use a part that is low quality or requires special installation. If you use wheel spacers that are unsafe and made from cheap materials, you might void warranty claims related to the brakes and/or suspension. Or if you install wheel spacers without following the proper torquing procedures, this may also lead to warranty claims being denied. (Not sure if you should use wheel spacers? Check this article out before you decide.) This goes for all parts of the vehicle, not just wheels spacers. Make sure you verify the quality and have a professional perform the install.
Will My Whole Warranty Be Voided, or Just Sections of It?
Typically, vehicle manufacturers deny warranty claims; not entire warranties. For example, let’s say you have aftermarket wheels and tires, and you begin to notice a wobble at higher speeds. If you take your Subaru to the dealer they will likely just explain that your wheels are not factory spec and that any related work done would be at your own expense. They won’t put a huge figurative “VOID” stamp on your vehicle’s warranty.
However, there are times when a manufacturer may choose to void an entire warranty. Signs of racing, autocross, rally, and severe off-road use might cause the manufacturer to refuse all future warranty claims. Even if you are not abusing your car, it would be wise to take steps to make your car presentable. Make sure that the undercarriage of your vehicle is clean and free of debris as to avoid raising concern.
It’s also wise to refrain from posting any off-road or track use on your personal social media. Even if it’s not the same vehicle, it may lead to suspicion that the car in question has been used in a similar manner. It may seem harsh, but warranties aren’t offered to provide coverage for this type of use. We have to try to see it from their point of view.
What Does The Law Say About Vehicle Warranties?
It’s important to understand what the law says about vehicle warranties. According to Steve Lehto, a Lemon Law attorney, no manufacturer can mandate that you use specific branded parts or services. This is outlined in the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act and you can learn more about about the Act HERE. This means they can’t force you to have your vehicle serviced at the dealer, or make you use only their branded parts. They are still within their rights to deny warranty claims caused by a modification. But only if they can prove that the mod created the failure.
The Bottom Line:
Lifting your Subaru will not void your warranty. However, it may cause related warranty claims to be denied, but usually it will not result in negative action against your warranty’s standing with the company. The best course of action that you can take is to become familiar with your local dealer. Talk with the service writers, and if possible, the service manager. Some service drives operate under a more strict set of rules while others are very relaxed with warranty claims. They may be able to help guide you in the right direction as you begin the process of lifting your car.