CAA-Quebec's 2014 study of vehicle warranties: are they really bumper-to-bumper?

QUEBEC CITY, April 11, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Peace of mind from a bumper-to-bumper warranty is among the key attractions of a new car. But when the details are examined closely, it becomes clear that the true extent of the coverage is often less generous than advertised! There are major differences between brands, as indicated by the annual inspection requirements for anti-perforation coverage or the short audio system coverage provided by some brands.

To help consumers, CAA-Quebec has scrutinized warranties from 17 carmakers involving a total of 32 makes of vehicle. This 2014 Study of New-Vehicle Warranties facilitates comparisons of the coverage provided by the main industry players at a glance, making it possible to judge key points of interest and to make an informed decision.

Piecemeal warranties
Based on its comparisons, CAA-Quebec notes the emergence of "piecemeal" coverage. For instance, Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi offer shorter coverage on audio systems than on the other parts of their vehicles. In all three cases, coverage of the radio is limited to 3 years/60,000 km rather than the 5 years/100,000 km applying to the rest of the car. Similarly, the two Korean carmakers each limit the warranty to 2 years/40,000 km for certain parts, such as spark plugs at Kia or batteries at Hyundai.

Although all warranties have exclusions, this phenomenon seems to be on the increase among some carmakers. For example, modern audio systems have become complex technological devices; they often incorporate various electronic functions (such as GPS) with dashboard commands. Repairing them can be very onerous.

"Carmakers decide on the conditions of the warranties they provide, and they have the right to do this, but we feel that dealers have a duty to explain this clearly and in detail to their customers before completing a sale," says Sophie Gagnon, Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, at CAA-Quebec.

Restrictive anti-corrosion inspections
As regards improvements, in 2013 Mazda extended its warranty on perforations caused by corrosion. It now stands at 8 years/unlimited kilometres, or three years more than before. This is an excellent initiative, especially since cars from this company experienced problems of premature rusting up to 2010.

But Mazda has made this new warranty conditional on annual body inspections. Where evidence is lacking, the manufacturer keeps its anti-perforation coverage at 5 years/unlimited kilometres! BMW and Mini are the only two other brands to require inspections - in their case, every two years - to back their warranty's validity.

"These unusual requirements, often overlooked, can be costly for motorists who don't expect them," Ms. Gagnon notes. "This emphasizes again the importance of a careful look at the warranty booklet that normally comes with the owner's manual, without waiting for a problem to arise."

Extended coverage for electric models
Motorists tempted by "zero emissions" can rest assured: all electric vehicles enjoy longer coverage than gasoline models. The makers normally guarantee electric powertrain components - battery, engine, generator, power cables, etc. - for 8 years/160,000 km. The same applies to components specific to hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

About CAA-Quebec
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1,270,000 members.

SOURCE CAA-Québec

For further information:

Philippe St-Pierre
Assistant Director, Research and Public Affairs
418 624-2424, ext. 2418
Cell.: 418 580-1633
pstpierre@caaquebec.com