Pressure builds on brands to offer five-year warranties
AUSTRALIA'S leading car brands are edging closer to five-year warranty to better comply with tougher consumer laws.
Half the top 10 brands now offer five- or seven-year factory-backed warranty after Ford this month joined the growing ranks to extend coverage from the industry average three years.
Arch rival Holden has had five- or seven-year warranty deals in the market on and off for at least two years and Kia has had market-leading permanent seven-year coverage since October 2014.
However, the two biggest car brands - Toyota and Mazda - are yet to stretch beyond three years.
And while Subaru and Volkswagen have offered five-year warranties during special promotions, they too are yet to permanently add the extra factory-backed coverage.
A statement from Toyota, market leader for the past 15 years in a row, said: "Toyota is currently reviewing the whole of its warranty policy which includes coverage. We have not ruled out the possibility of increasing or extending our warranty coverage as part of this process. At this point in time, however, we have nothing to announce as this review is still under way."
Toyota added: "Any plans to increase coverage will be taken into consideration as part of our holistic review into warranty which will include consideration of Australian Consumer Law."
Holden currently has a five-year warranty offer on most of its range and a seven-year deal - including roadside assistance - on the new generation Commodore and Equinox.
A statement from Holden said: "We're constantly assessing our customers' needs (but) no other announcements to make at this stage".
Mazda said it has no plans to change the current three-year coverage.
A statement from Mazda said: "We are not reviewing our warranty terms. We provide customers warranty terms as set by Mazda Corporation. Mazda complies with its obligations under the consumer guarantees which exist independently of its manufacturing warranty."
Subaru says it will "continue to review warranty periodically, but there are no immediate plans for change to the current three year/unlimited kilometre arrangements".
Volkswagen says it is "monitoring" the "increased prevalence" of five-year coverage. "We work closely with dealers to resolve any issue that customers might encounter after the expiration of their warranty," the company says.
Nissan says it continually monitors the Australian market "to ensure we understand and deliver on the needs of our existing and prospective customers" and that warranty coverage is under review.
"This review process does include warranty, along with a variety of other aspects related to buying and owning a vehicle," says Nissan.
Of the luxury brands, Lexus offers four years coverage while Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar/Land-Rover offer three years.
Recent changes to Australian Consumer Law mean car makers may still be liable to repair a vehicle free of charge - even after the three-year warranty expires - if the fault is deemed unreasonable given the age and condition of a car.
For example it would be unreasonable and unusual for an engine or gearbox to fail after four or five years if a vehicle has been properly maintained.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently fined Ford $10 million for "unconscionable conduct" and ordered it to repair, replace or issue refunds for certain cars with faulty gearboxes, many of which were outside the warranty period.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling