Update 04/24/2014: Motor Authority talked to Brian Cotter, head of Mustang global communications about the issue. He said, “Racing (ex. in a bracket-style competition at a drag strip) would be an issue; testing the capabilities of the Mustang at a test-and-tune day where there is no incentive for fastest quarter mile times (etc.) is permissible. You can have plenty of fun at a track without entering the realm of ‘racing.’ Issues would arise when you are specifically competing against other cars ‘wheel to wheel.’ Testing the capabilities of the Mustang is not an issue.” How they will know if the car was racing is still unknown.
In order to achieve the best grip on the dragstrip, a car’s tires must have heat in them. Hot tires are grippier tires. Racers will do a burnout to generate heat in the tires. Ford will be making this process even easier with the 2015 Mustang and the electric line lock as part of the track apps. Will using the line lock feature, or any track app void your warranty? That might be a possibility.
Ford clearly states that the line lock kit is for use exclusively on racetracks and that racing the car will void the warranty. So why would Ford include technology from the factory that is available to all Mustang GT buyers that allows them to instantly void their warranty? They have done something similar in the past.
The Mustang Boss 302 had a TracKey function that transformed many of the engine settings on the car to make it perform better on a race track. It was a separate key that came with the car that required a $302 upgrade (see what they did there) to enable it. Extra scrutiny falls on cars that need warranty work with the TracKey installed.
“Once the [computer] is reprogrammed the warranty becomes discretionary,” says Mike Correra of Raceway Ford. The discretion falls on Ford and not on the dealership. Even if the driver had a friendly dealer they wouldn’t likely receive reimbursement for a repair due to abuse of the TracKey.
He believes that it will be similar for the line lock function. There are some differences, though. The TracKey required ordering an additional item from the Ford Racing catalog and having it installed. Line lock, along with launch control, will come preinstalled on all Mustang GTs with the manual transmission. A couple of clicks of the steering wheel mounted controls and the epic burnouts can begin.
We honestly do not know how Ford will react to warranty claims. We do believe they have the ability to check the onboard computer to determine if the owner used the track apps. There is precedent for checking the computer to void a warranty. Nissan GT-R owners faced voided warranties if they disabled the traction control on their cars to use launch control. Since Nissan told drivers to not turn it off for warranty purposes, the switch serves little use.
People who are purchasing this car to take to the drag strip are people who typically modify cars as well. Accustomed to driving cars without a warranty, these buyers won’t care how Ford handles it. But providing this type of functionality to everyone and advertising it so publicly might end up creating a headache for owners who try it out only to find out they no longer have a warranty. We won’t know for sure until either Ford makes an official statement or a warranty issue arises that Ford uses track app data to void.