By on July 26, 2007

ch007_001se.jpgChrysler Group announced today they're offering a lifetime powertrain warranty on all new vehicles delivered on or after July 26. Unlike GM's "best in the industry" five-year/100K warranty, this warranty really is the longest– with a couple of great big "buts" (and I cannot lie). Chrysler's new warranty applies only to the "first registered owner or retail lessee" of certain vehicles (e.g. NOT SRT8's). It requires "a [no-charge] powertrain inspection performed by an authorized Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge dealer once every five years within 60 days of each five-year anniversary of the warranty start date of the vehicle." Since no one leases a vehicle for much longer than four years, the warranty really only applies to new vehicle buyers. Anyone want to drive a 2007 Sebring for the rest of their life?

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49 Comments on “The Truth About Chrysler’s New Lifetime Warranty...”

  • avatar

    Nice idea, wrong car company.
    If Honda offered this, we’d be in bidness.

  • avatar

    It’s only good if they are around.

  • avatar

    I feel it’s an admirable step. Lifetime warranties usually clause the original buyer under the duration of the lifetime. IE: Laptops, computers, etc. Sometimes you may find the 2nd buyer has protection, but that’s in rare, higher-priced objects.

    I was also thinking how often we’d see competitive-driven deals like this if we were to lose one of the domestic 3. Though it’s obvious it hasn’t helped in terms of comparative quality to the imports.

  • avatar

    Good idea for Chrysler, gets buyers to at the least think about their products. For Honda it would be terrible because consumers already have them in mind for a possible purchase. Then if they bought they would keep them to 500k, ruining the chance for another sale.

  • avatar

    We are already beginning to see fruits from new the ownership group. Great new Jeep ad campaign. Announcing full speed ahead on new dual clutch tranny. Cancelling the Imperial. Now lifetime powertrain warranty.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    It’s a good sales gimick, and likely will not cost Chrysler much in the long run. The real question is: will it matter to buyers? Probably not.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    A warranty is of little value if it is not honored. At 12,000-miles our Ford consumed a quart of oil every 500-miles. FoMoCo said it was normal and refused to repair or replace the engine at its cost. Fortunately the lemon-law arbitrator disagreed. Ford lost a repeat customer for life.

  • avatar

    How good is the warranty if Chrysler goes belly-up? What happens then?

  • avatar

    I’d take a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

    Note, this is great for high mileage drivers. If you drive 60-100,000 miles a year, nothing matches this. And yes, I know people who drive more than 50,000 miles a year.

  • avatar

    Chrysler is trying to do two things. First, assuage worries about their cars’ reliability. Second, give their products a little more luster, just like Hyundai did by drastically extending their warranty.

    Both objectives are fine, but there is still the concern that Chrysler will go bankrupt and thereby make the warranty worthless. And since second owners don’t get the longer coverage, resale values won’t improve. A transferable six year, 75 or 100K mile warranty backed by a reputable third party would really be great–and Chrysler might be able to pay for it by cutting back on rebates. (The drawback? Dealers would hate losing their huge profit from selling service contracts.)

  • avatar

    Gardiner Westbound “A warranty is of little value if it is not honored.”

    I believe the car connection on their mechanics tales section mentioned that Chrysler put a lifetime warranty on their fragile ultra drive transmission and they simply would not pay reimmbursement to service the units/

  • avatar
    Glenn 126

    Nice gimick, Cerbarysler, but for many retails customers it won’t entice them to fish in your waters because the warrantee is for the life of the car component, not the owner. Right? Right.

    “Oh, look, the transmission took a dump at 121,362 miles. Well, the life time of that transmission was 121,362 miles because it’s now ‘dead’ – so sorry, we won’t repair it”

    Sorry to be cynical but I’ve been burned once too often by the big 2.8 and no longer believe anything they say, advertise or do. The fact that millions of others feel the same – is why the big 2.8 are nearly gone, deceased, le morte, finito, no more (to paraphrase Monty Python).

  • avatar

    I was pretty surprised to see this, I think it is a good way to attract alot of new customers. This is what Hyundai had to do to convince US buyers that their cars weren’t silly Korean junk, and I think it worked well for them. It certainly took Chrysler off my “NEVER” list (it is still far from my “WOULD ACTUALLY CONSIDER IT” list). Combine this with Ford’s posted 2nd quarter profit and we’ve got a happy day in Detroit.

    Except it’s the anniversary of those riots or something…

  • avatar

    Good way to prime the launch of the 2008 minivans, if you ask me.

  • avatar

    “Lifetime” warranties offered by the auto biz are BS.

    Some years back, pre-internet days, I bought some Bendix brake pads that came with a “lifetime” warranty. The pads were guaranteed for as long the the original brake pad buyer owned the car on which they were originally installed. After 30K miles or so, the pads, naturally, wore out.

    When I bought the pads, I mailed in the warranty registration card, and I kept the receipt from the auto parts store where I purchased the pads.

    I returned to the place of purchase, “Joe’s Auto Parts”, with the worn out pads. I laid the pads on the counter, along with the warranty card, and original sales receipt. This is what transpired when the auto parts store owner walked up to the counter.

    Joe: “Get that out of here.” Pointing to the worn out pads.

    Me: “I bought them here, I got the receipt……..” I didn’t finish before I was cut off by “Joe”.

    Joe: “I told you to get that sh1t out of here.”

    I left “Joe’s” fine auto bits emporium and went home to call Bendix. I explained to the customer service rep about what just transpired at “Joe’s”. The customer service rep inquired if I had the worn out pads, warranty card, and original sales receipt with me. I answered in the affirmative. She checked to see if “Joe” was a stocking Bendix dealer, and when she confirmed he was, she seemed puzzled as to why he acted as he did. Not worry, I was assured by the Bendix customer rep, any Bendix dealer would be happy to provide warranty service. She asked me for my ZIP code and then gave me the names of several local Bendix auto parts dealers.

    I took the pads to “Bob’s Auto Parts”, which was about a mile from “Joe’s Auto Parts. I place the stuff on the counter at “Bob’s” and this is what transpired:

    Bob: “Did you buy these here?”, Bob asked, looking at my original sales receipt.

    Me: “No, I bought them at Joe’s.”

    Bob: “Then you take them to Joe.”

    I returned home and called Bendix again. The Bendix customer rep’s solution to my problem was to give me more names of “stocking Bendix dealers in my area”. I hung up and bought new pads — not Bendix.

    I’ve received the same treatment when I tried to get warranty service for a Modine radiator with a “lifetime warranty”.

    The Walker muffler people were the best of the lot. Walker muffler replaced one muffler under their “guarantied for life” warranty, but refused to replace the second rusted-out muffler.

    Guarantied for life? Don’t be a sucker.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    Unless you are a mechanic, it is a financial wash to keep a car longer than 5 years. The parts and labor costs for maintenance have gotten so out of hand, it is better to just replace the vehicle. Especially at today’s fire-sale prices for brand new second-tier (ie domestic) cars.

    Regardless, this warranty is silly. No one trusts dealers to honor warranties anyway, and, besides, as is well documented above, who really believes that Chrysler will be around to honor it anyway?

    The tale of the three-headed dog is only beginning…get some popcorn and settle in for a wild ride!!!!

  • avatar

    Don’t really think you can fault Chrysler here, you can try but you won’t succeed. Does any other manufacturer offer this warranty? Then give credit where credit is due or the impression of bias is brought into play.

  • avatar

    A lifetime warranty on any product has poor credibility from the outset. A lifetime powertrain warranty on a vehicle is “comical”, who knows consumers actually believe the 0% financing, now they will believe the lifetime non transferable warranty, and the F and I department at Chrysler dealers just took a hit.

  • avatar

    I agree. My experience with long manufacturer warranties has been pretty miserable. Hyundai wouldn’t honor their “bumper-to-bumper” warranty on my Elantra let alone their powertrain one. After 6 trips to 3 different dealerships in 2 states, the dealers refused to fix a known (there’s a TSB available) high-speed wheel vibration, brake squeal, belt squeal, or a steering wheel that has completely disintegrated in less than 3 years.

    Lesson learned: buy based on the quality of the car and reputation of the manufacturer not the “guarantee” made.

  • avatar

    Matthew Danda:
    July 26th, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Unless you are a mechanic, it is a financial wash to keep a car longer than 5 years. The parts and labor costs for maintenance have gotten so out of hand, it is better to just replace the vehicle.

    I couldn’t disagree more on this point… For the price of an average new car (let’s say $20K, just for argument), you could almost literally maintain a 5 year old car indefinately. Not that anyone would want to, but they could.

  • avatar

    Lots of skepticism about lifetime (and regular) warranties being expressed, and rightly so. Midas bragged about its lifetime warranty on mufflers. When I went back for my “free replacement” I discovered there’d be exorbitant charges for clamps, hangers, replacing pieces of pipe that joined the muffler, etc. I bet they never lost money on that warranty.

    And again, there’s that concern as to whether Chrysler will take bankruptcy. I’ve seen opinions that statutes protect the warranty holder, but nothing specific to support that. Nor did I find any comfort in my web searching. Unless someone can show me otherwise, I’m going to assume the warranty holder becomes an unsecured creditor (i.e., far, far down the list to be paid).

  • avatar

    Desparate Times, Desparate Measures…

  • avatar

    Surely there is at least a three- or five-year transferable warranty, or no one who isn’t certain they’ll keep the car that long will touch a Chrysler with a ten foot tailpipe.

    I didn’t read the release, so forgive me if I speak out of ignorance, but I wouldn’t be at all suprised if Chrysler buys this warranty from a third-party insurer, with which the consumer will have to deal after the transferable portion of the warranty. In other words, a typical non-factory extended warranty which dealers and mechanics will do anything to avoid.

  • avatar

    Kazamooloo: You stated that Ford has a 2nd quarter profit announced today, that is true, HOWEVER it was not from North American Operations where they lost over $200 million.

  • avatar

    The truth is . . .
    If Lexus or BMW announced the same package all we would see were wonderful comments about the plan.

    It’s all about expectations, and the majority of dealers (GM, VW, Ford, etc) offer such poor service that no one trusts them anymore.

    Chrysler needed to do SOMETHING to promote themselves in a positive manner. I think it’s a great step in the right direction. Once we can all see the actual warranty details we will know the rest of the story.

    In my case, the Chrysler minivan just popped back on the shopping list. Not sure Toyota will lose any sleep over it, but this is a great reason to at least give them another look.

    Yes, I also admitted I’ll probably be buying a minivan. It’s amazing how quickly kids change your priorities. . .

  • avatar

    Me thinks there is a definite bias against Detroit, Chrysler increased not decreased its responsibility to owners. I bet if Toyota/Honda did this the applause would be thunderous. I am not a cheerleader for Detroit but everything cycles. This could be the start of a reversal.

  • avatar

    I guess I don’t seem to understand the significance of a long warranty when I will inevitably be at the dealer numerous times fighting with the service managers threatening everything short of litigation for the warranty to cover the repair.

  • avatar

    Hmmm Honda offers 3/36 bumber to bumber and 5/60 powertrain. Chrysler offers lifetime powertrain (and what for bumber to bumber?). I think I’ll be going with Honda.

  • avatar

    VW did something similar in the 80s. Every taxi driver in the world seem to have a Golf or Jetta diesel.

  • avatar

    Any lifetime warranty scares the hell out of me. If you call the company to exercise the warranty, they send a hit man over to your house.

    After all, the contract doesn’t say WHO’s lifetime they are referring to.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Let’s assume for a moment that Chrysler means what its says and they will honor that power train warranty for as long as you own the car. I give them credit taking the step.

    And let’s take another leap of faith and assume the company won’t go bankrupt and will be around for the foreseeable future. Both scenarios are actually within the realm of possibility.

    The problem is, it’s not enough to make me buy a Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep. That’s because the company doesn’t make a single vehicle I want to buy. That includes anything with a Hemi. Chrysler’s cars and trucks look like something designed by a cartoonist.

    Now, it’s true, the Wrangler has definite appeal and can be highly useful in certain circumstances (I’ve owned Jeeps in the past). But it has no relevance for me at the moment. Not with four- and five-dollar-a-gallon gasoline a distinct possibility during the expected ownership period for any vehicle you buy this year.

    Once again… it’s all about the product.

  • avatar
    Bill E. Bobb

    The USA’s best powertrain warranty is still Suzuki, 7 years, 100K, transferable at no charge during duration. Beats GM’s too.

  • avatar

    I own a Suzuki SUV and I have had so many issues within 20k that I am not sticking around to 100k to gamble with the powertrain warranty.

    They do not take care of me now, I can only imagine what happens at 75k.

  • avatar

    # starlightmica:
    July 26th, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    “Good way to prime the launch of the 2008 minivans, if you ask me.”

    And the new Ram, and the new PT Cruiser, and the new CUV (JC49?), and the new LX cars including the Challenger. And lets not forget the new small car from Chery – that would definately need such a warranty.

    IF Cerberus sticks with Chrysler thru these launches then there is a good chance they will survive. If they bail out early and cut it apart for a quick buck then of course it’s all over. But NONE of their actions so far indicate that. 3 new engine plants, new DSG tranny plant, reintroduction of cars in Japan, Australia, as well as continued sales pushes in other foreign markets. Hiring Tom Gale, culling the dealer network.

    What happened to all the people who said “all ______ domestic car company needs is ten year/100k warranty like Hyundai. It worked for them.”? Now that it’s LONGER everyone seems to say it won’t work.

    This along with the recent comment about that dog the Imperial have me scratching my head. If it were a movie it would have a tag line like this: “Coming to a theater near you, Chrysler, the company that NO MATTER what it does is always wrong”

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    This is how well Chrysler honors a previous lifetime warranty. I believe it is the article referred to earlier by Sherman Lin.

  • avatar

    This warranty probably isn’t very useful to ‘flavor of the month cars like the 300, or disposable vehicles like the caliber. But one of the major complaints about the old Chrysler minivans was that they routinely ate their transmissions.

    Indeed, this program seems tailor-made for people looking at minivans, since their owners couldn’t care less about style (Chrysler has none) or power, but are just looking for a long-term, inexpensive solution to haul their brats around in until they leave the house.

    $4k below invoice + a lifetime warranty might just get people to reconsider the Odyssey.

  • avatar

    What happened to all the people who said “all ______ domestic car company needs is ten year/100k warranty like Hyundai. It worked for them.”? Now that it’s LONGER everyone seems to say it won’t work.

    If they had offered a reasonable-sounding warranty (5/100K or 10/100K) it would have been different. However a “lifetime” warranty reeks of desperation. It’s like they are doing whatever they can to get some attention, even if it’s making outrageous promises.

    Add to that all the stipulations (applies only to original purchaser, 5 year checkups on specific dates) and it’s obvious the warranty will apply to maybe about 5% of the cars they sell, if that many. I really don’t think this warranty will be the deciding factor in someone buying a Chrysler product over anything else.

  • avatar

    Matthew Danda:
    July 26th, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Unless you are a mechanic, it is a financial wash to keep a car longer than 5 years.

    This is completely dependent upon the type of vehicle. I’ve had 2 cars from new that i kept 10 years or more.

    The Porsche was an unholy nightmare to keep running past 5 years. Every trip to the shop was another multi-kilobuck misadventure. One of the happiest (and saddest) days of my life was getting rid of it.

    My current daily beater is a 12-year old subaru purchased new for $17k. Over its lifespan it’s required about $650/year in repairs (including 3 sets of tires, timing belt several CV joints & new brakes… the usual stuff.)

    There is no way i’d be able to replace it with a new one as cheaply. Monthly payments alone on a new legacy are over $300…. Just the downpayment would be enough to keep my current car running for 3 years.

  • avatar

    This will be great for marketing, but the devil’s in the details.

    As the warranty says, you have to bring the car back to the dealer for an inspection. How much do you want to bet that everytime you come back for your “inpsection”, they find about $1-2K worth of repairs that need to be completed to keep the warranty? it’s a “no-charge” inspection, but that doesn’t say anything about the repairs the inspection requires.

    Look, I want to root for Chryslerberus on this. I hope they really mean to stand behind their cars, for a change. But history tells us that “lifetime” warranties are a gimmick.

    Also, since it only applies to the original owner, it means the warranty will have no effect on resale values.

    Finally, it presupposes that the reason folks aren’t buying Chrslers is the warranty. Sorry, but it’s the product.

    Even with a lifetime powertrain warranty, a car that’s falling apart in every other way isn’t much use to anyone. And a warranty doesn’t help the fact that the cars themselves are sub-par in relation to Hondoyota.

    As the story says, would I really want to keep a Sebring forever?

  • avatar

    I cannot think of a single Chrysler vehicle that I would be willing to keep long enough to take advantage of the warranty. I also find it interesting that you cannot view the full text of the warranty online. You have to go to the dealer to get a copy.

  • avatar

    Lifetime warranty not offered in Canada

  • avatar

    Of course its not all altrusitic, that’s what warranties are. A marketing gimmick to get you interested. Everyone bitched about GM’s 5/100K as not good enough, so now we get unlimited from someone else and its also not good enough? Tough crowd.

    Yeah, so its non-transferrable. What’d you expect? I’m sure they know that many new car buyers sell their cars by the 5 year point, and that’s why they can do it. I’m also readily able to believe that in the 5 year inspection plan they’ll find all sorts of bits to replace in order to keep the warranty alive, but even still this is an attempt to tell the public that Chrysler plans on coming back, and with a product that matters.
    Three months ago I was in the market for a new car, and seriously considered a new Jeep Patriot. If this was in effect then, I’d probably could’ve lived with the CVT and bought it.

  • avatar

    Frank Williams:
    July 27th, 2007 at 8:18 am

    “Add to that all the stipulations (applies only to original purchaser, 5 year checkups on specific dates) and it’s obvious the warranty will apply to maybe about 5% of the cars they sell, if that many. I really don’t think this warranty will be the deciding factor in someone buying a Chrysler product over anything else. ”

    Frank, it would be helpful to have some statistics for Hyundai to compare with. What percentage of Hyundai owners will still own their cars after 9 years? Obviously the number will be small, and since powertrains are so reliable today they won’t get a massive amount of claims anyway. That’s why they were the first to go to 7 yrs/100k on the powertrain a few years ago . Now if they start covering the power windows, locks, mirrors, seats, climate control etc. that will be really something.

    July 27th, 2007 at 8:42 am
    “This will be great for marketing, but the devil’s in the details.

    As the warranty says, you have to bring the car back to the dealer for an inspection. How much do you want to bet that everytime you come back for your “inpsection”, they find about $1-2K worth of repairs that need to be completed to keep the warranty? it’s a “no-charge” inspection, but that doesn’t say anything about the repairs the inspection requires.”

    Exactly! Chrysler will just like the Japanese makers that we all know and love! You did know that’s what Toyondsan does when they do those “free” inspections, didn’t you?

  • avatar

    I have to agree with jberger, this really puts the Caravan on my shopping list.

    If it weren’t for the fact it’s not offered in Canada, and revoked if you buy in the states and import to Canada (is that legal?), I would buy the last 2007 Caravan on the lot. The 2008’s are both cheaper and better, so there will be some serious discounts on the last 2007s.

    Plus, I’m a new dad.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    Talking about cars is like talking about people–make a generalization and someone will always find an exception.

    I should revise my posting to say that it is a financial wash to keep a car past 7 years, not 5. Years 4-6 are really the sweet spot in which the car is paid off and is still in good shape. After 7, well, it gets dicey.

    When you add in the massive aggravation of “surprise” mechanical problems and the upheaval of the family routine in order to accomodate one less car for a few days, plus the requirement to keep $1-2K in the bank ready for a surprise repair bill, in many cases it is just better to get rid of the beater and buy a new Focus or Fusion for $330 a month and save yourself the trouble. Especially when you have a full time job and kids in daycare and absolutely must keep your routine or the whole world falls apart. In my case, it is a total financial wash to keep a car longer than 7 years.

  • avatar
    Tommy Jefferson

    > Guarantied for life? Don’t be a sucker.

    Well said.

    Look at how the 10 year-old versions of a company’s products hold up it you want to know which car to buy.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A few quick notes…

    You should expect Ford to follow suit within the next 45 days. GM may or may not follow suit. Although the current sales declines may get them kicking and screaming to offer it for certain models.

    Kia will do it. There is a surprising amount of cross shopping between Chrysler and Kia products. Hyundai will probably do it for select models. Most of the Japanese companies will follow the same pattern… and lifetime maintenance may actually be thrown into the mix as well.

    This will be actually be a nice boon for Chrysler once the new minivan comes out. The rest of the model line-up may enjoy a bump. But it will also fizzle out in time unless Chrysler decides to sweeten it once the buzz wears out.

    Overall, I think this will be great for consumers because it will encourage folks to keep their cars for far longer periods of time. Those of you who have railed against ‘maintenance costs’ for 7+ year old vehicles are grossly uninformed. For a point of reference, you may want to visit and see what Tom & Ray Magliozzi have to say about it. Their conclusions are reflected by studies done by MIT and a variety of other institutions. Parnthetically… climate, driving habits, and maintenance regimens all play a significant role but in general… most cars can last over 20 years. With proper maintenance as well as a conservative driving style, even an older vehicle can easily drive as well as two to four year old models.

  • avatar

    “…it is a financial wash to keep a car past 7 years…”

    I still disagree with you. Our current vehicle (a Ford Windstar Ltd) has 214K miles on it and is still “going strong”. It has some electrical issues common with its year (1998) such as the rear wiper and windows not working, but those are minor issues that we are able and willing to live with. Our repair/maintenance costs haven’t been higher than $975/year for the past 3 years. 4 years ago, we had a higher year and spent $1365 that year. That same year, we purchased the car for $5600.

    Our maintenance numbers include oil changes, brake pads, new tires (cost us $325 one year), wiper blades, etc.. In other words, it includes all regular maintenance as well as repair such as the ABS switch that we just had to replace 2 months ago.

    We couldn’t buy a new car for what we spend on our current one if we tried. Especially not when you consider the fact that our current vehicle is a Limited edition vehicle with leather seating, traction control, CD changer, etc… In other words, it’s the highest-priced minivan. We’d be paying between $32K & $38K for the same vehicle depending on which brand we went with.

    For now, we’ll continue spending our average of $82/month and saving for that “new” car when this one dies. (Our next car will probably be used as well.) For the record, we only have 1 car…and have for the past 7 years!

  • avatar

    I think some of this criticism is unfair and inaccurate. (I am a technician at a Chrysler-Jeep dealer). Every repair has a "labor operation code". For example, if your vehicle needs a new water pump, we enter your VIN, name, odometer reading, and the labor code for water pump into the computer. The result screen shows if it is covered by the warranty or not. There really is no 'gray' area here…it is either covered or not. I think people do not realize that dealerships WANT to do warranty work…it is an important part of our business. Chrysler reimburses the dealership for warranty repairs. We submit the repair order, and they pay it, and they even allow us to make a profit on the part and the labor. Of course, it is not a free-for-all. We have to follow Chrysler's rules exactly. We will do any and all warranty repairs that we can be reimbursed for. As with any "lifetime" warranty, you have to play the game their way and jump through some hoops to get it. You must be the original owner. An inspection must be done every 5 years within 60 days of the anniversary date (as far as I know). This is the part that will get people…you have to remember to get it done…nobody is going to call you, hold your hand, and give you a loaner car while the inspection is done. And since the inspection is free, the dealership probably won't fall all over themselves to get it done in record time, however, they will do it. Be patient and reasonable.

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