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Chryslers lifetime powertrain warranty

Chrysler’s Lifetime Powertrain Warranty

South Korean carmaker Hyundai Kia Autogroup set the standard for reliability in 1999 when it introduced it’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty on all car models on top of its already generous 5-year/60,000-mile coverage of almost all components.

In recent years, Chrysler has been making a slow comeback with 67 percent of surveyed models scoring average or better in predicted reliability. In fact, Steven Landry, Executive Vice President of North American Sales for Chrysler, is fond of telling people that dealer feedback reinforced what they were seeing internally that Chrysler’s recent fleet is the best quality they had ever seen. Faced with declining consumer confidence in American automotive manufacturing and an eroding customer base, Chrysler decided to raise the bar and issue its own benchmark warranty to lure buyers back to Detroit. “We decided to add ‘lifetime’ to our warranty as a service to our customer” says Patti Georgevich, Global Service & Communication Manager for Chrysler. Will consumers take the bait?

Devil in the details

The lifetime warranty begins at the end of the 3-year/36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty and covers the engine, transmission, and drive systems. Chrysler is quick to point out those parts are the most costly to repair, but they neglect to mention that they’re also the parts least likely to break.

As always, you need to read the fine print. Before you get excited about stress-testing your Dodge Ram SRT-10, note that all cars are covered by the warranty. Chrysler excludes all hybrids and SRT models from the lifetime coverage. If you’re trying to save a few bucks by buying a used Jeep, stash those savings in a safe place in the event you need to fix the engine timing. Like the Hyundai 10-year warranty, Chrysler’s lifetime warranty applies only to the original owner of the car and is non-transferable to subsequent owners.

If you have a hard time remembering your anniversary or mother’s birthday, perhaps this isn’t the best deal for you. The only caveat for maintaining the warranty is that the powertrain must be inspected by an authorized Chrysler, Jeep, or Dodge dealer ‘free of charge’ every five years within 60 days of the purchase date. This means that if forget to have the car inspected, the warranty is void.

And the lifetime powertrain warranty isn’t a license to skip oil changes or run your engine into the ground? the warranty requires that you properly maintain your vehicle according to the Scheduled Maintenance Guidelines in the owner’s manual. The provisions stop short of requiring documentation of all repairs. But if you need a new transmission around the 80,000 mile mark, you might end up in a he-said/she-said confrontation. The good news is that Chrysler does not mandate service or repairs be performed at a Chrysler dealership. The bad news is that if the damage appears to be a result of improper maintenance and you can’t back up your claim with documentation, you’re on the hook for a new transmission.

Too much of a good thing?

Cars typically have a 3-year/36,000-mile or 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. Coincidentally, owners keep new cars on average for five and a half years. Not long after the warranty expires and the car starts breaking down, owners tend to sell the car for a newer model. Which begs the question, is a lifetime warranty really necessary?

And even if you’re the type to drive a car until the wheels fall off, powertrains are typically the last to go. So while it may be a good idea to keep your detailed service records, they may be moot. “If you follow all recommended service and maintenance,” says Ms. Georgevich, “our vehicles should last a very, very long time.”

While it’s too soon to see if the warranty will entice more customers or end up being a costly mistake, it’s easy to see how it makes for good marketing.

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