GMC, Chevy to Offer Shorter Powertrain Warranties

In order to keep up with the competition, GM lengthened its powertrain warranty to five years or 100,000 miles in 2007.  Last week, however, the automaker announced that Chevrolet and GMC models will offer a five year, or 60,000 mile warranty starting with its model-year 2016 lineup.  In a memo to its dealers, GM justified the move by saying that the 5-year / 100,000 mile warranty hasn’t’ been as enticing to buyers as it had hoped.

In the joint memo, GMC vice president Duncan Aldred and Chevrolet vice president Brian Sweeney said, ““Through research, we have determined that when purchasing a new vehicle, included maintenance and warranty rank low on the list of reasons why consumers consider a particular brand over another. As a result, we have benchmarked our competitors, reviewed our current offerings and have concluded the following modifications to align closely with our customers’ needs and expectations.”  Some auto industry observers are questioning the stated reason for the powertrain warranty downgrade.

In a March 12 article about the move, Car and Driver contributor Robert Sorokanich pointed out that “On three separate occasions, three different Car and Driver editors experienced catastrophic engine failure in two 2014 Chevy Malibus and one 2014 Buick Regal GS.”  GM attributed the engine failures to defective connecting-rod bearings.

Sorokanich also pointed to a Corvette test car that experience engine failure with just 6,000 miles on the odometer.  Chevrolet attributed that failure to a contaminated oil filter.

The automaker told Car and Driver that it had had to replace engines for “around 30” customers before their powertrains had reached the five 5-year / 100,000

In addition to reducing the length of its powertrain warranty, Chevy, GMC and Buick will begin offering a less-appealing maintenance offer starting with its model-year 2016 vehicles.  Specifically, the current offer of four free maintenance visits in the first two years of ownership will be reduced to two free visits.

The powertrain offer on Buick models will remain at 6-years / 70,000 miles.  GM has not announced plans to modify the 5-year / 100,000 powertrain warranty currently offered on its Cadillac line.

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