The fine art of warranty claims negotiation

Warranties are pretty straightforward. Something is covered for 5 years/500,000 miles or 2 years/250,000 miles. Simple, right?

Perhaps. But what happens when a part fails just after the warranty period? Or if something doesn’t perform as advertised as a result of another component failing? That is a gray area and a time when having good information, good recordkeeping and a good maintenance program is invaluable.

Let’s look at an example. If an EGR cooler or EGR valve leaks you are going to have a problem with your DPF filter because it is downstream of those two components. You need to make sure your technicians are trained to look at the DPF filter after an EGR cooler or valve leaks so you can make that damage part of the initial warranty claim. If you don’t do that and the DPF fails after the warranty period has expired, the manufacturer is not going to raise his hand and say, “We ought to cover this failure too.”

You need to understand whether a failure was caused by something else and make a case for it. Be aware of the possibilities of “collateral damage” whenever there is a part failure.

Batteries are another good example. If you’ve changed the batteries three times, somebody better raise their hand and say, “Have we looked at the alternator?” Because if it is battery, battery, battery, it probably isn’t really the battery that is the problem. It more likely means that the alternator is never kicking in and the battery is doing all the work and therefore draining down. That is pretty simplistic but it’s an easy way to understand the need to look past the original failure.

There is no primer for warranty negotiation. It is a case-by-case basis with no blanket solution. However, you must complete your due diligence to see what kind of collateral damage might have happened as result of the initial failure so that you can get reimbursed for that, too.

As quickly as you can, point the additional damage out to the manufacturer and see what they have to say. If the person reviewing the warranty claim does not have the authority to make a decision in your favor, elevate it to someone who does. Make sure you have all the facts behind the failure. Show them maintenance records and make sure they know that you kept up with all service campaigns and recalls.

Talk to other fleets, do research online or attend industry meetings to see if others have had similar failures and how those were resolved.

The fine art of warranty negotiation requires some due diligence on your part but can ultimately big pay dividends when problems occur.

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