Commercial Vehicles 2007

Warranties and Service Programs

By paying attention to auto maintenance and service and analyzing the resulting data, you can minimize repair bills and ongoing expenses and extend the life of your vehicles. To save time, money and effort, check out service plans offered by auto manufacturers for new vehicles, fleets and certified pre-owned units. Many include a mix of services, including accident management, online account access and registration renewal.

Do you know the difference between a warranty and a service contract? Typically, the warranty provides free comprehensive product coverage for a period of time, and the service contract provides certain services for a specified period of years or miles. Chrysler and Dodge have several service plans available for vehicle protection, including Dodge's Maximum Care and Added Care Plus. Dodge's BusinessLink program for trucks and vans affords priority service to members with no enrollment fee. Chrysler's ServiceNet is a national maintenance program. For in-house care, GM's OnStar provides a handy diagnosis of key vehicle components, such as an engine check and remaining oil life. Results are e-mailed to your office.

GM's warranty provides roadside assistance and courtesy transportation or transportation expenses while your car receives warranty repairs. Its GM Protection Plan guards against unexpected vehicle repair costs and handles claims, and the Goodwrench Services include maintenance reminders.

Ford has upped its powertrain limited warranties and roadside assistance programs on its 2007 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. The company's Quality Fleet Care maintenance program includes centralized billing and monthly repair reports, and it handles preset client-approved spending limits. The Extended Service plans include emergency roadside assistance and a premium maintenance package to cover frequent-wear items such as brake pads, clutch disc, belts, hoses and shock absorbers.

GE Commercial Finance Fleet Services, which specializes in light truck programs for small businesses, guarantees that savings with its MaintenanceSelect plan will exceed your program fees and reduce expenses on repair pricing. GE's Your Office @ Fleet program lets you manage your fleet from your desktop, and their latest tool helps fleet managers monitor fuel prices.

Auto manufacturers require you to buy or lease a minimum number of units to qualify and enroll in their plans. Toyota requires 10 or more units in service to qualify for its commercial fleet maintenance plan. Eligibility for Nissan's and Chrysler/Dodge's maintenance programs requires the purchase or lease of five or more vehicles, or having 15 or more vehicles operated by your company.

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This article was originally published in the December 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ready to Roll.

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