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Too much of a good thing: BMW cuts back on free scheduled maintenance

Some of the money saved from the cutback will go toward restructured dealer bonuses, which is sure to excite the average buyer.

Jim Sulley, newscast

We have looked a gift horse in the mouth, and now its teeth are about to clamp down. Starting with the 2017 model year, BMW will be reducing its free-service period from four years or 50,000 miles to three years or 36,000 miles.

Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW North America, said in an interview with Automotive News that the reason behind the cutback was simple -- turnover. According to the suits in management, dealers reported that a majority of buyers were trading in cars around the three-year mark, rendering that fourth year of free service more or less moot.

While this trimming won't affect the buyers mentioned above, it will reduce the benefits to buyers that hold onto cars for longer periods. If prepaid maintenance is high on your priority list, you might want to shop for 2016s instead of waiting for the 2017s to arrive.

However, in a bit of a trade-off, Automotive News notes that BMW's reduced free maintenance will become transferable to a new owner, when previously it was not.

This won't have any effect on the cars' prices, though. In fact, BMW already earmarked the savings that will come from this decision. The company is also restructuring how it pays bonuses to its dealers, and the savings will go toward that.

BMW is not the only manufacturer to retreat from a paid-maintenance package. Volkswagen used to offer three years of prepaid maintenance, as well, but sliced its Carefree Maintenance package down to two years in 2013.