trucks: How to Get What You Pay for with Truck Warranties

Although new vehicle quality is improving and warranty periods are increasing, submitting warranty repair claims for reimbursement is not getting any easier, and reimbursement still does not cover the complete cost of warranty repairs.

The complete cost could include "excess" labor dollars spent above the actual repair, such as:

* overtime rates and diagnostic work to decide whether the repair is indeed warrantable,

* driver overtime,

* vehicle downtime and

* loosing goodwill with the customers.

Most original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and suppliers want legitimate warranty repairs submitted. The only way they can correct a component supplier's product problem or a defect in their assembly/manufacturing process is if they know about it. OEMs do not want customers complaining about their policies if, indeed, they are at fault and just haven't been given the chance to correct the problem.

An effective warranty program starts when the specs are written. If a manager cuts too many corners to reduce the purchase price, he could run into trouble later. Many suppliers void or reduce their warranties if misapplication is the primary cause for failure.

To understand all the vehicle warranties, including component suppliers' warranties which sometimes exceed the manufacturer's, review the details with the OEM and your maintenance staff. Also, determine if your vehicle supplier will "debug" a new vehicle in the first few months or during early mileage without hassles or paperwork.

Since warranties usually are negotiable, make basic and extended warranties part of the up-front vehicle purchase negotiations. You may not need to pay for the extended warranties. Also, ask if the OEM has a toll-free warranty information number.

After setting proper specs and a warranty policing program, completing and documenting preventive maintenance inspections on recommended schedules is necessary to reduce the number of illegitimate claims and to enhance your reputation with the OEM and component suppliers.

Detailed records are the most important part of any warranty program. OEMs are interested in good records for several reasons; for example, if parts are proven defective, they may recover all or some of the reimbursement from component suppliers.

Before starting repairs, determine which repairs are under warranty and what work is not covered. Know the authorized procedures for emergency repairs and if you can use an independent shop without calling the dealer.

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