In the personal computer market, it has long been a source of dispute that certain computer makers discourage consumers from using replacement parts made by other manufacturers. Instead, these companies want consumers to buy only their name-brand parts.
The automobile market has had similar disputes for many years, of course, but as cars become more computerized, these auto market disputes are looking more like computer market disputes.
As a recent Reuters article noted, a growing number of automakers have begun telling consumers that they cannot ensure the safety of their cars if customers use aftermarket parts from other manufacturers. Some have gone so far as to say that doing so will void the customers’ warranties. Repair shops and other companies argue that this is a threat to their businesses, and that it is unnecessary. Some have asked for lawmakers and the Federal Trade Commission to intervene.
Of particular concern are highly advanced safety features such as collision warning systems and sensors that help keep drivers from drifting out of a lane. Some automakers say these systems are so technologically complex that they don’t trust other companies to make safe replacement parts. Other companies say these automakers are using safety concerns as a smokescreen for unfair competition.
It is too early to say for sure how this dispute will play out for automobile dealerships, but it seems likely to create issues in the near future. Attorneys with experience in automobile dealership law can advise franchise holders and other businesses on their rights and legal options.