By on August 5, 2010

Hush. Don’t tell American GM customers how GM’s Opel subsidiary plans to prop up seriously flagging sales. Opel can use a serious injection of something. Opel’s German sales were down by 43.5 percent in July. And Opel doesn’t have China to save their necks. Today, Opel announced their version of the Ardennen-Offensive: A last massive strike at the hearts and minds (and pocketbooks) of their customers. A warranty for life. As they say: Read the fine print.

„Opel is the first volume manufacturer worldwide to offer such a lifelong warranty.” This said Opel’s Nick Reilly to Automobilwoche [sub]. Would you believe such a thing? Of course not. To begin with, it’s not lifelong. It is limited to 160,000 kilometers. (Interesting. 160,000 kilometers is somewhat unusual in Europe. Until you convert it to miles and get 100,000 miles. Harbinger of things to come to America?)

There is no time limit, but a lot of fine print. The warranty can’t be passed on to the next buyer. If the new car is sold within 6 years, the same warranty can be bought by the new owner for an unspecified “moderate price.” Once the Opel changes hands again, the third buyer is SOL. (On the average, the first time buyer in Germany holds his new car for less than 4 years. Statistically, this is a 2 year warranty extension. Clever, those boys in Rüsselsheim.)

More fine print: The warranty applies for “all important components.” Wear parts, such as belts, brakes, sparkplugs etc. are excluded.  Up to 50,000 kilometers, parts under warranty will be exchanged at no cost. Then, costs will only be reimbursed partially. 90 percent from 50,000 to 60,000 km. Only 40 percent once the car is above 100.000 km.

This will make Opel dealers happy: The car must be brought to a dealership for an annual check-up and the required inspection work  must be performed. This will sell a lot of non-included wear parts. After  the regular 2 year warranty is over, and latest 36 months after the car has been first registered, the car must be brought to an Opel dealer for an annual “warranty re-activation” at the price of only 11.90 Euro.

The Movano, Vivaro und Combo are excluded.

Folks, this smells. It smells like an extended third-party warranty that has been tagged on. It smells like something we had done at Volkswagen ages ago. It was called “Lifetime Garantie.” It had similar, but far less restrictive clauses. It was so complicated that nobody understood it. It died of natural causes. Actually, it’s still alive. You can buy it, for a nominal charge. But nobody wants it.

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10 Comments on “Opel Buyers Get Lifetime Warranty. Supposedly...”

  • avatar

    Who’s going to warranty the “life” of Opel? The warranty is questionable if the organization offering it has a shaky existence. In a bankruptcy of Opel, would the successor organization pickup the obligations of the warranty?

    • 0 avatar

      Not only that, but my experiences (with VW) over the past 15 years have led me to the conclusion that a warranty is only good for:

      1. Large/major repairs
      2. Items where the hassle of taking the car in exceeds the cost/hassle of DIY.

      #1 you can’t really argue with. However, #2, taking the car back for repeated repair attempts, has a cash value to me and in most cases I’d rather eat the cost and DIY in my spare time.

      Not to mention all the ridiculous soft selling you’ll get every time you come in contact with the dealer. “Oh, we probably shouldn’t let you leave without an injector flush…”

  • avatar

    Minor changes aside, did they just copy and paste the fine print for Chrysler’s Lifetime warranty?

    • 0 avatar

      Chrylser’s was a powertrain warranty and without a lot of that crazy fine print, mileage restriction, percentages, etc. The two big things with the Chrylser warranty is you bring it in for a free check every 5 years and it doesn’t pass to the second owner.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “On the average, the first time buyer in Germany holds his new car for less than 4 years.”

    Holy cow that’s short. Are these misguided souls being taxed to the Netherlands? Or is it just an incurable case of automotive herpes?

  • avatar

    I had a 100 thousand mile warranty on both of my GM trucks and trust me

    I used it.

    A lot.

    Will it help Opel? Who knows. I won’t buy another GM vehicle ever again and warranty costs (that the dealer didn’t blame me for) were covered. I just missed too much work time taking care of them.

  • avatar

    A Lifetime album cover? That makes me tingly…

  • avatar

    Like most long term warranties there is probably fine print to the effect that whether the work is done under warranty or not is the decision of the dealer/manufacturer. If it’s like GM North America warranties you have to have scheduled maintenance records up the wazoo before they will fix anything under warranty. Forget DIY oil changes, spark plugs,etc. they will negate your powertrain warranty. Regular service is a bread and butter item to the dealers.

  • avatar

    Does the Buick Regal qualify as an Opel for purposes of the warranty? When Opel dies how do you get parts? eBay?

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