What’s in a warranty?

What’s in a warranty?

Every new vehicle worth its salt today comes with a warranty. FOCUS provides a recap of the general idea.

One of the major setbacks of the motor vehicle in general is that it needs to be maintained. To run optimally, it needs to be serviced every few thousand kilometres; if a part is defective it needs to be replaced; and, if a vehicle is stranded, it needs to get to the workshop quickly and safely. All the better if this can be done with as little fuss and delay and as much convenience at possible.

When it comes to commercial vehicles, this needs to be the rule, not the exception. To the operator, time is money. To the manufacturer, keeping the operator happy and on the road is their number one priority. This could be one reason why more and more manufacturers are offering better and better warranties; another could be the proven reliability of their vehicles and their resulting confidence in their products’ ability to perform.

A warranty is defined as an assurance by one party to another party that specific facts or conditions are true or will happen. It’s safe to say that all vehicles sold today come with a manufacturer’s warranty in some form. A vehicle warranty covers the vehicle’s components in the event of failure, as defined by the manufacturer, for a maximum number of years or kilometres, whichever comes first.

This can all differ depending on the vehicle and application it is designed for – vehicles designed for hard work (such as commercial vehicles) may have separate standard component and drivetrain warranties. Whatever the case, a warranty is generally included as standard in the purchase price of the new vehicle, although some warranty packages may need to be bought.

Many companies offer aftermarket warranties as well, usually underwritten by a financial institution such as an insurance company or finance house. Depending on the package, these are generally as comprehensive as a standard vehicle warranty. It’s advisable to consider one when buying a second-hand vehicle or once your vehicle’s original manufacturer warranty has expired – from a reputable provider, and on condition that it is appropriate to the use of the vehicle and your needs. Many manufacturers offer the option of extended warranties for a further number of years and/or kilometres.

As with any legal contract, one must be sure to read and understand a warranty’s terms and conditions properly. Most will not cover components that need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear – such as clutches, brakes and suspension components – and/or if driver-abuse is found to be the cause of component failure; others may be void if the vehicle is not serviced at regular intervals. Happily, if it is a blatant component failure or if the fault lies with, for example, an agent not fitting a part correctly, manufacturers are generally willing to take it on the chin and incur the cost to get the customer going again.

Related to the warranty is the service/maintenance plan and roadside assistance. These are also offered for a predetermined time and/or mileage. Service plans are usually offered as a separate contract to a warranty and may cover general maintenance where a warranty only covers failures – again, it is advisable to read the contract thoroughly and understand exactly what is covered and what conditions are attached to it.

Roadside assistance is yet another value-add whereby, should a vehicle breakdown, the manufacturer will dispatch either one of its own technicians or an approved technician to get the vehicle running again, or have it towed to a workshop. Some roadside assistance packages may provide additional services, such as medical support.

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