Car Industry

VW reduces 6-year new-car warranty, adds 2 years of free maintenance

It was one of the best warranties available in the industry, but the new one is still competitive.

Four years or 50,000 miles is still a pretty beefy warranty by mass-market-brand standards.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

In order to help earn back consumers' trust after Dieselgate, Volkswagen expanded its new-car warranty to six years or 72,000 miles, whichever comes first. It started with the latest iterations of Atlas and Tiguan before eventually expanding to nearly all 2018-model-year vehicles. Now, not too many flips of the calendar later, it's coming to an end.

Volkswagen is trimming a bit off the top of its People First Warranty, Automotive News reports. Instead of a six-year, 72,000-mile warranty, it will be reduced to a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty. The change begins with the 2020 model year, so if you buy a 2019 Volkswagen, you'll still get one hefty warranty. Thankfully, this shorter new warranty will remain transferable to subsequent owners.

VW isn't just leaving 2020 buyers high and dry. Instead, the automaker will supplement its shorter warranty with two years of paid maintenance. "We felt that a combination of a strong warranty with a service and maintenance package ... was the best way forward," said Duncan Movassaghi, VW's SVP of sales and marketing for North America, in a chat with AN. Movassaghi said that dealers won't be hit too hard by the free maintenance perk because it will be paid out at the full warranty rate.

According to AN's report, the People First Warranty didn't have its full intended effect. It never became a sticking purchase point, especially for people who lease cars, because the lease terms would end well before the warranty did. Movassaghi also said that most Atlas customers hadn't even heard of the warranty until entering the dealership. It's believed that free maintenance will be more effective as it's an immediate reduction in the cost of ownership.

While the reduction might be a bummer to some, it's still ahead of competitors like Honda or Toyota, which have stuck with the traditional three-year, 36,000-mile warranty. VW's new warranty is actually closer to luxury automakers -- Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all offer four-year, 50,000-mile warranties, too.

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