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Hey But Its Family! - Automakers Scale Back Free-Maintenance Offerings in Effort to Trim Costs, Beef Up Bottom Lines

Washington DC July 7, 2005; The AIADA newsletter reported that several automakers are scaling back the free-maintenance perks that traditionally accompany the purchase of a new car, as they look for ways to “trim their costs and beef up their bottom lines,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

A growing number of manufacturers -- including some of the same brands that kicked off the free-maintenance movement more than a decade ago -- are requiring new customers to pay for maintenance services like oil changes, tire rotations and other routine tasks that used to be free.”

Among the automakers carrying-out or considering cuts in their free-maintenance offerings for the 2005 model year, include: Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Lexus, Audi and Chrysler.

With the 2005 model year, Mitsubishi ceased its free-maintenance deals to buyers, and says it has no plans to resume the program any time soon. Mercedes-Benz replaced its four-year free-maintenance plan with pre-packaged deals that range from $576 to nearly $4,000 per vehicle.

Volvo, who previously covered the first four scheduled checkups, will reduce its maintenance offerings beginning with the 2006 model year, offering just one free checkup.

Lexus eliminated its complimentary 1,000 mile inspection, but still offers consumers free scheduled maintenance at 5,000 miles or six months.

Audi, meanwhile, has yet to decide on whether to continue its free-maintenance perks on 2006 models. It’s parent company, Volkswagen dropped its free-maintenance programs a few years ago. Earlier this year,

Chrysler took it one step further and significantly cut the warranties on its Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge vehicle.

The Journal reports, “BMW plans to continue offering free maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles, including replacement of items subject to wear and tear like windshield wipers. BMW last expanded its program for model-year 2003. Lexus, meanwhile, says it has replaced its early inspection with free programming of a car’s electronic features.”