DALLAS, Texas – When spending upwards of $130,000 on anything, it’s nice to have a little peace of mind to protect the purchase.
When the purchase doubles as the primary means of business, the importance of peace of mind is increased, but not all warranties are designed to provide a complete safety net to the customer.
“A warranty is different now than it was 10 or even 20 years ago,” said Ron Bredemeyer, of Bredemeyer and Associates, a Texas-based transportation consultation and litigation support firm. “After deregulation it became more competitive and dealers need to save money on warranties if possible.”
Bredemeyer has spent about 50 years in the trucking business. For more than 30 years he worked for a fleet which operated 5,500 pieces of equipment; and it was his job to oversee everything to do with the equipment, from purchasing to repairs. There are a few different types of warranties available and it’s important for the purchaser to know beforehand exactly what they would like covered.
A Standard Warranty is usually one-year/100,000 miles and offers bumper-to-bumper coverage. Most dealers offer Extended Warranties as well, which cost extra and usually concentrate on specific components of the truck. There is also a Policy Warranty, which is a mutual agreement between the manufacturer and the operator to cover chronic failures, latent defects, and problems outside of the Standard and Extended coverages.
“Nowadays there’s not as much policy as there used to be,” noted Bredemeyer.
As well as the OEMs, warranties can also be provided by component manufacturers, replacement parts suppliers and rebuilders.
“Manufacturers and their dealers are motivated to avoid all the warranty claims if possible,” said Bredemeyer. “This is particularly true.”
However, it does not mean they will be able to avoid all warranty claims and if an agreement is followed the warranty can be beneficial to the consumer.
“Make a thorough inspection of the vehicle before accepting delivery and have it fixed before,” noted Bredemeyer. “As much as you pay for a truck these days, you shouldn’t accept one that’s inferior. They’ll jump through hoops before you accept it.”
Bredemeyer points out that it’s important to ask lots of questions at the dealership and to ask questions about extended warranties, dealer warranty facilities in your area of operation, parts availability, replacement vehicles, and to make sure you adequately understand the terms.
“Seek the dealer’s explanation and have the service manager explain the general and specific coverage,” said Bredemeyer. “What must you do to avoid being told there is no warranty? What is the appeal process if you do not receive satisfaction?”
Perhaps the most important aspect is not who is offering the warranty, or exactly what it covers, but that the agreement is understood and is what the customer wants.
A truck owner should keep a written copy of the warranties for reference and understand their obligations for ensuring a warranty is followed for proper coverage.
“Read the warranty book when you get the truck and understand it,” explained Bredemeyer. “That’s the agreement for what your responsibilities are and what the dealer’s responsibilities are.”
A warranty will contain information for the owner pertaining to repairs, inspections and maintenance. The records an owner needs to keep and what process needs to be followed for over-the-road repairs and re-imbursements.
“It comes from reading the book, knowing what you have to do if you break down in Timbuktu,” Bredemeyer said. “Every inspection, repair and maintenance operation should be documented.”
It’s also important to understand that not all warranties are designed to cheat the customer and building a positive relationship with the dealer could go a long way in solving future concerns.
“Understand the warranty agreement, but also build a friendly, congenial relationship and you’ll get some of that warranty,” noted Bredemeyer. “They’ll find a way to fix it if they want to.”