Nothing is more frustrating than showing up at your local dealership's service department only to be told that the problem you are having with your vehicle is no longer covered by the automaker's warranty. This usually means paying out of pocket for sometimes costly repairs that are required due to defects in the car or truck's original design. Although some dealerships will occasionally work with longtime customers to pay for at least a portion of the bill in extreme cases, this type of service has been a relative rarity - until now.
The Automotive News is reporting that General Motors has quietly encouraged its dealerships to begin comping a greater number of customers when it comes to making out of warranty repairs. The financial assistance being offered by GM to Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac franchises is part of a "dealer-empowerment" program that has actually been in existence for several years. The program is designed to reimburse service departments that take it upon themselves to make things right with customers, but according to many of the managers interviewed by the article it was rarely taken advantage of due to the uncertain consequences of spending too much of the "The General's" money on these types of issues.
That wariness has largely been erased over the last 12 months as GM has told its dealerships unequivocally that it is more concerned with keeping customers happy - and potentially in the fold - than in saving money by denying goodwill repair claims. Part of the company's confidence in encouraging its service locations to amp up free repairs is tied in with the fact that, over the past four years General Motors' warranty claims have fallen to 65 percent of their previous level, thanks to an increased focus on design and build quality at each of the auto giant's brands.
The increased latitude being given to dealerships with regards to covered repair work extends past older automobiles whose warranties have expired. GM is also willing to pay for jobs that are not covered under existing warranties, such as damage to a rim due to a pothole impact.
Although it has been close to a year since General Motors dealerships were given permission to make full use of the dealer-empowerment program, executives within the company say that there is still resistance to the idea at the service manager level, where the idea of asking for money from the corporate office continues to bear something of a stigma. GM spokespeople have promised that the company will continue its efforts to expand the number of free repairs and maintenance issues taken care of by its American dealers.