VW Passat
James Hamel's picture

Volkswagen Free Maintenance Coverage Loses a Full Year of its Life

In a move that was not widely announced, Volkswagen of America altered its free maintenance package on all new models sold from 3 years or 36,000 miles in 2013 down to 2 years and 24,000 miles.
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Didn’t new Volkswagen shoppers appreciate the free maintenance package enough as a reason to buy a car from the brand or was it simply too costly to cover that many services? Well, with sales slipping slightly for 2013 from last year there is one thing that is clear - that extra year wasn’t exactly hauling in buyers.

When you check the fine print for the free maintenance package that Volkswagen offers you see that it is available to owner’s every 10,000 miles with the normal routine being a simple oil change and tire rotation. But something different happens at the 30,000 mile service for a Volkswagen - there are additional and often times costly services needed like a brake fluid flush (sometimes can cost up to $200 from a dealer), a DSG transmission fluid change (depending year, model), air filter, pollen filter, fuel filter and possible cleaning of diesel particulate filter after an inspection. That’s a lot of work and parts for VW to possibly cover if your mechanic decides you need all that work.

Volkswagen first implemented its free maintenance program back in 2009 to try to combat customer issues with the cost of owning cars from this German brand. In addition, VW has also expanded its North American parts supply base in order to make parts less expensive should a customer require a repair. After all, shipping a part from Germany is not exactly cost effective if you live in Delaware for example. Otherwise, Volkswagen’s efforts have also included an extensive quality improvement campaign which has seen warranty claims drop an average of 10% a year. That means the car will also be more reliable in the long term after VW’s warranty coverage (3 years/36,000 bumper to bumper) ends.

Still, looking at all of this there is still more that Volkswagen could do to satisfy the concerns of its potential customers. For starters they could extend the factory warranty to 5 years/60,000 miles like it was a few years back much like Hyundai and Kia did to allay any quality fears their customers had. Adding in a 10 year powertrain warranty on top of that would be a clear statement of intent by Volkswagen that it will stand by its products long term. But we realize all of this costs money that VW’s sales in North America may not cover.

So while we are sad to see the one year of free maintenance coverage leave 2014 Volkswagen’s, we know that the improving quality and customer satisfaction drive the company has undertaken will help people save in other ways. Still, it would be nice to know that it covered more than tire rotations, an oil change and replacement of you air and cabin filters. The 30,000 or 40,000 mile service (depending on driver and model) is the first large one so a 2014 VW owner may be in for quite a shock when they have to pay for it themselves.


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