The World Of Warranties

Although new vehicle quality continues to improve and warranty periods are lengthening, keep in mind that warrantable problems still occur with new equipment.

Meanwhile, submitting warrantied repairs for reimbursement is not getting any easier, and reimbursement generally still does not cover the total repair costs.

Total costs could include money spent for labor in excess of the actual repair, such as expenses for driver overtime, vehicle downtime, and overtime and diagnostic work to decide whether the repair is warrantable.

Despite the potential difficulties, however, the plain fact is that fleets should submit and recover any money spent on internal or external labor and parts.

This is true for all equipment: revenue, dollies, service vehicles, etc. Indeed, manufacturers want legitimate warranty repairs submitted because they can't correct a component supplier's product problem or a defect in the assembly process if they don't know about the problems.

An effective warranty program starts when the specs are written, long before the vehicle is put into service. Cutting too many corners to reduce the initial purchase price can mean trouble in the future. Many suppliers void or reduce warranties if misapplication is the main reason for a failure.

The next "must" is clearly understanding all the vehicle's warranties, including those of component suppliers, which sometimes exceed those of the vehicle OEM.

Review the warranty details with OEM personnel and your maintenance staff. Also, determine if your vehicle supplier will "debug" a new vehicle within the first few months or early mileage - without hassles or paperwork. Most major OEMs have 800 numbers with valuable warranty information.

A basic truck warranty usually is 100,000 miles or one year and covers the entire truck except the cab, frame rails, crossmembers, drivetrain components and the engine, which have longer warranties.

Drivetrain components are usually covered by the truck manufacturer for three years or 300,000 miles; an additional two years or 200,000 miles may be available from the component manufacturer. Engines are covered for two years; however, it's possible to negotiate for up to five years or 500,000 miles.

In fact, warranties tend to be negotiable in general. Basic warranties and extended warranties should be part of the up-front negotiations; paying for extended warranties may be unnecessary.

After setting proper specs and establishing a warranty policing program, completing and documenting PM inspections on schedule is important. This will reduce illegitimate claims and will en-hance your warranty reputation with the OEM and component suppliers.