Super WarrantiesPosted 6/15/2006
By Charlie R. Elder, AAM
The "super warranty" issue has the potential to adversely impact our industry - more than anything that has occurred in my lifetime. If you are not familiar with it, you need to be. Please continue reading.
California has pushed for ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles for several years because the state has poor air quality in several areas. The problem is, California fell short of its goals because people didn't want to drive these vehicles - so they didn't buy them. To increase the number of these vehicles, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were required to meet several new standards; some that were almost impossible to attain. The easiest way out for the vehicle manufacturers was to offer longer warranties on these vehicles.
To use this option, the OEMs are required to give a 15-year/150,000-mile warranty on any component that can cause increased emissions from the vehicle. That includes many non-engine components such as air conditioning and drivetrain controls. Often, I have found, many in our industry think this is only a hybrid issue and will have little impact. There are, however, many non-hybrid vehicles that this affects and they are increasing rapidly.
Some forecast that by 2012, 60 percent to 70 percent of all new vehicle sales will be ultra-low emission. If this is accurate, can independent shops survive on tires, batteries, brakes, alignment and maintenance for 15 years or 150,000 miles?
ASA chose to fight this issue in 2005 in the state of Washington because we have a strong affiliate there and many members with whom we could generate grassroots opposition. We were not able to keep the law from passing, but we were able to eliminate the 15-year/150,000-mile warranty from it.
Washington and Oregon have coupled their laws together so we have victory in two states. Ten other states have already adopted the California law with the super warranty. We must fight hard to keep any other states from adopting the California law and push them to use the Washington state law if they insist on passing something.
We need all members alert and actively opposing these warranties in your state to protect our industry. It's time for all hands on deck!
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