Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chrysler Announces Lifetime Powertrain Warranty

Chrysler announced today that it is expanding its existing 3 year/36,000 mile basic limited warranty to a lifetime limited warranty on powertrain components on "most" new Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles purchased from dealer inventory and delivered on or after July 26, 2007.

I applaud this move - it's likely to get the company noticed by buyers and alleviate many of the quality concerns they may have had. It also can work as an olive branch from Chrysler to its frustrated dealer body, who are still smarting from having sales bank inventory shoved down their throats over the past few years. The company also expects that the better warranty coverage could allow it to reduce its incentive spending, which is among the highest in the industry today.

The details are:

  • The warranty covers all parts and labor needed to repair covered powertrain components - engine, transmission, and drive system.
  • It applies only to the original owner or retail lessee.
  • To continue warranty coverage, the owner must have a powertrain inspection performed by an authorized dealer once every 5 years, within 60 days of each 5 year anniversary of the warranty start date.
  • Diesel vehicles and SRT vehicles are excluded from the lifetime powertrain warranty plan.
One key detail isn't clear. Chrysler's press release specifically says that the warranty applies to most new Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles purchased from dealer inventory. So, what isn't clear is whether the improved warranty coverage also applies to units ordered, and not purchased from dealer stock.

While the move certainly shows a lot of confidence on Chrysler's part in its products, the move could backfire, because there will probably be some die-hards who kept their 2008 Sebring until 2048 and need a part, which may be nearly impossible to find or repair at that point. As long as the powertrains prove to be reliable and durable, and enough original owners sell or trade in their cars before problems arise, it should be a successful program and possibly inspire competitors to improve their coverage. If Chrysler's 2006 and newer powertrains do have problems in coming years, the company is going to be stuck with a huge bill.

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