Do extended warranties make sense for your operation?

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

When was the last time you compared your existing equipment specs to all of the safety, performance and regulatory changes that have been introduced to the trucking industry? If you have to think about it for more than a few seconds, it has probably been too long.

I suggest that you review specs every time you order new vehicles to make sure you are getting the best vehicle for your application and your budget and availing yourself of the best warranty program that compliments your duty cycle.

However, your work shouldn’t stop there. Once the vehicle is operating in your fleet you need to collect and analyze data to determine if you are maximizing the useful life of your equipment based on the way you spec’d it. In other words, are you getting the best total cost of ownership out of your assets? This involves looking at maintenance and repair records not only for the asset as a whole but on a component-by-component basis. You need to have a thorough understanding of how each component is performing in each of the duty cycles in which you operate.

That can help you determine if you should continue to spec a particular component in the future or if you need to switch to another brand, but it can also help you make decisions about whether you should purchase an extended warranty on a particular component.

One component or system that immediately comes to mind is the new components that are part of the after-treatment system that is mandatory on today’s vehicles to meet emissions requirements. We continue to hear stories about failure issues with these system components.

You need to analyze the maintenance programs for these components and look at what you are spending on both maintenance and repair. Make sure your analysis includes not just the hard costs of labor and parts but also the soft cost like an inconvenience to the driver, loss of customer goodwill, etc.

Then compare those costs to the cost of any available extended warranty programs for that component. Extended warranties can then insulate you from some of the potentially significant costs incurred from component failure. While on the surface an extended warranty may seem expensive, when compared to the cost of a component failure and subsequent breakdown, the extended warranty may end up saving you money in the long run. In most cases, this warranty, if still applicable, is transferrable at the time of sale.

Today’s trucks are technological wonders. However, the cost to maintain and repair high-tech components can be quite high. An extended warranty could be just what you need to protect yourself. Explore your options, based on both time and mileage, to your specific duty cycle and determine what might be right for you.

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