Aftermarket 4WD accessories are always at odds with your OEM warranty when it comes to 4WD’s, and just recently I read something that really piqued my interest.
It was regarding Toyota warranty claims, and the statement was made that any warranty claims on vehicles with a GVM upgrade needed to go to head office for further assessment. Now, I’m going to assume that the likelihood of this statement being true is pretty high, and it got me thinking.
You see, I’ve written about whether aftermarket accessories void your warranty, and the general statement was that as long as its unrelated you shouldn’t have any issues. That said, it doesn’t always go that way, and warranties with aftermarket accessories can be very difficult to deal with. It’s certainly a complex subject.
If your lost (sorry!), we’re talking about increasing your Gross Vehicle Mass via aftermarket accessories (like suspension upgrades with engineering) and how that affects your Original Equipment Manufacturer Warranty.
In other words, if you go and get a 200 Series GVM upgrade through Lovells or Kings and something breaks, how will Toyota (or any other OEM) react?
What is a GVM upgrade?
If you aren’t familiar with GVM upgrades, it’s the task of increasing the amount that your 4WD can weigh. GVM stands for Gross Vehicle Mass, and an upgrade takes your maximum GVM up even more.
In many cases this is as simple as getting an engineer to sign the vehicle off as a 10% increase, or it’s a replacement suspension kit, with engineering to allow the vehicle weight to go up.
For example, our Isuzu Dmax has a factory GVM of 2950kg, and we had it upgraded to 3220kg by ARB using an Old Man Emu Suspension GVM upgrade.
This left the front and rear axle weights at their factory maximum, but there are kits that also increase axle capacities, or even replace major components (like rear differentials) to get even higher upgrades.
How many vehicles have GVM upgrades?
I’d hazard a guess that there are tens of thousands of 4WD’s out there in Australia with GVM upgrades, and many that would have GCM upgrades.
If you think about the thousands of people out there travelling this country, towing big vans, a lot of them would have GVM upgrades, and even those who just have heavy touring 4WD’s that care about being legal often get a GVM upgrade.
The 200 series Land Cruiser is one of the most common tow vehicles around, and if we’re honest, they are pretty average in terms of payload and GVM from the factory, which is why so many get GVM upgrades.
What could they really decline based on a GVM upgrade?
Now, the premise of this statement regarding GVM upgrades and Toyota Head office was that they were interested in claims relating to driveline, engine, and more. Logically, you’d expect if you had a 4WD and chassis bent with a GVM upgrade the chances of you getting warranty through the manufacturer would be slim to none.
If you break a CV with an Isuzu Dmax running aftermarket suspension, there’s virtually no point taking it in for warranty; they’ll just decline it on the spot because you are running aftermarket gear, and that’s somewhat reasonable.
However, what happens if your rear differential starts to whine, and then clunk, and you have a GVM upgrade? Would it be reasonable for the vehicle manufacturer to turn around and say, well, you’ve been running the vehicle much heavier than what we specify, and that’s the cause of your diff failure, so sorry, but you won’t be covered.
What about if your motor overheats going up a hill, and requires a full overhaul? If you’re running a bog stock vehicle, in the specified warranty period, and are doing nothing incorrectly, you’d expect the warranty department to help you out. If you had a GVM upgrade though, would it be unreasonable for them to say your excessive weight contributed, so sorry mate.
I can see this slippery slide getting really sketchy, really quickly, and as an individual consumer, your going to need a lot of luck, patience and effort to take on the vehicle manufacturers.
Nissan are making pre rego GVM upgrades very hard
In line with this post, I’ve seen a number of people complaining that Nissan dealerships will not release their vehicle that has been purchased without it being registered first, which puts an end to pre rego GVM upgrades. In fact, some have been waiting months, and then when they finally go to collect it and get the pre rego upgrade done, Nissan is saying, sorry, but no can do!
Why do you think they might be doing this? Could it be to do with warranty claims coming back on vehicles that are much heavier than they were originally engineered to be?
Is there a legitimate reason behind this?
I like to maintain a balanced perspective, and whilst its easy to side with the vehicle owner, I can completely and utterly see why a company like Toyota would be so interested in warranty claims with GVM upgrades.
If you talk to honest mechanics at dealers, they’ll tell you that the number of aftermarket accessories that are either badly designed and made, or incorrectly fitted is huge, and it often does serious damage to a vehicle. It is no wonder that vehicle manufacturers do not like aftermarket gear.
If you built something, and created a number of parameters in the way it was to be operated, would you be happy if someone came in with your creation that had been heavily modified, with something broken and they asked for you to fix it for them, free of charge?
Nothing is free in life, and I can see that with the massive number of aftermarket accessories being installed on 4WD’s that the warranty claims are going to become more challenging going forward.
Aftermarket accessories can be a dangerous hole
There are more aftermarket accessories that you can fit to a 4WD today than ever before, and so many of them are totally unnecessary, or at best, not really needed. If you are keen on fitting a lot of different accessories to your 4WD, please know that they all come at a cost. There’s no free lunch, and it’s a slippery slope, or dangerous hole.
I say this with personal experience in spending a small fortune decking out a tough tourer 80 Series Land Cruiser. It’s not until way down the line that you look back and think geez, what was I thinking?!
I don’t want to get too far off topic, but did you know that some insurance companies will not cover a leased vehicle if you get an aftermarket tune done? Not only does the vehicle manufacturer take a dim view on it, but insurance can too, and that’s without looking at the costs of accessories over time.
Thousands of hours of engineering go into building a 4WD, and I do chuckle at how quickly people can rip gear out and replace it with something else that may not actually be an improvement at all. You want to think very carefully about fitting aftermarket accessories to your 4WD.
Is a factory vehicle up to scratch?
I want to leave you with some parting thoughts, that I’ve considered a lot over the years. Is there a factory 4WD out there, that is suitable for what you want, in its stock form? I can’t think of a single 4WD that would meet our criteria without aftermarket accessories, and that’s a bit of a worry.
Most 4WD’s need new suspension to suit the load that you are carrying, and if you tried to drop our canopy onto a stock, new Dmax it would have flat springs with no suspension travel, and headlights pointing into the sky.
How do you balance the need to build a vehicle that suits your requirements against that of warranty issues, reliability and cost? It’s not an easy thing to do!
Minimal modifications are best
In my experience, its aftermarket gear that is first to give you a problem on a 4WD. Sure, there are plenty of smart accessories that improve reliability, remove design shortfalls and in general improve the vehicle, but there’s also a lot that can cause you problems down the line.
I’ve long since realised that a 4WD with minimal accessories is the best, and we could get a stock 4WD that did everything we wanted it to off the factory floor, I’d be a very happy man. Maybe the INEOS Grenadier will get close to that? We’ll see.
For now though, think long and hard about your 4WD accessories; you never know how, or when they’ll come back to bite you. Have you had any experiences with the above?