Call it a flash in the oil pan. Twenty-seven months after unfurling an impressive six-year warranty across its lineup, Volkswagen confirmed today plans to cut the provision to a less remarkable four years. But the automaker will also revive its Carefree Maintenance program, granting complimentary service during the first two years of ownership.
Related: Making Sense of New-Car Warranties
Automotive News first reported the change, citing the automaker’s North American marketing chief. In a statement to Cars.com, Volkswagen called the prior warranty a “valuable tool” but said its successor “builds upon those benefits by still providing robust coverage and further lowering the cost of ownership.”
Mark Gillies, a spokesman for Volkswagen, confirmed detailed changes to Cars.com. If you’re shopping for a new VW, here’s what you need to know.
What Was the Old Warranty?
Effective for the 2018 and 2019 model years across virtually the entire Volkswagen lineup, the outgoing warranty furnished bumper-to-bumper coverage (including powertrain) for six years or 72,000 miles, whichever comes first. That exceeds most bumper-to-bumper or powertrain policies by one to three years. It’s also fully transferrable with no loss in coverage — a key difference versus the industry-leading 10-year powertrain warranties from Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi, whose provisions decrease considerably for subsequent owners.
What’s the New Warranty, and When Does It Take Effect?
Gillies confirmed the new warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first, on a bumper-to-bumper basis. As before, powertrain wraps into that with no separate policy. The new warranty takes effect across all U.S. Volkswagen models beginning with the 2020 model year.
What About the Free Maintenance?
Volkswagen’s complimentary maintenance program, called Carefree Maintenance, covers regularly scheduled service at no cost for the first two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first, according to Gillies. Like the warranty, it’s effective for model-year 2020 purchases.
Didn’t VW Offer Free Maintenance a While Back? Is This as Good?
It depends what you compare. Volkswagen’s earlier Carefree Maintenance program ran from the 2009 to 2015 model years, covering the first three years of maintenance from 2009 to 2013. VW shortened it to two years for 2014 and to one year for 2015 before phasing it out for 2016. That means, roughly speaking, the resurrected Carefree Maintenance is inferior to the 2009-13 program, equivalent to the 2014 program and better than anything since then.
What If I Buy a 2019 Model?
Model-year 2019 vehicles still get Volkswagen’s six-year warranty regardless of when they’re bought. Even if you buy a leftover 2019 model sometime in the 2020 calendar year, it still gets the outgoing longer warranty — but not the incoming free maintenance.
What if My Local Dealer Is Advertising a Better Warranty?
Read the fine print. Volkswagen’s updated warranty reflects what the automaker supports on a national basis. Anything offered by an individual dealer is typically serviceable at the dealership only, and it may have a limited scope of covered repairs.
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- If Premium Gas Is Recommended for My Car, Will Using Regular Void the Warranty, Ruin the Engine?
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