Back during Chrysler’s darkest days between 2006 and 2009, the company offered a “Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty,” promising replacement of any major engine or drivetrain that ever fails during the life of the vehicle’s first owner. It was an incredible deal, and amazing that Chrysler even offered it.
Seriously, the Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty seemed like a fantastic deal. My friend in college had a 2007 Jeep Wrangler outfitted with the stout Daimler-sourced NSG370 six-speed manual transmission and the so-so 3.8-liter V6 “minivan motor” known for making little power and burning lots of oil after a while.
He told me about this lifetime warranty he had on the Jeep, and how he was never going to sell it because of it. I had never really looked into that warranty, but once I did, I was amazed.
The warranty, described here in a 2009 Jeep Wrangler owner’s manual, covers the entire engine, transmission and driveline:
What’s the catch? Well, there really doesn’t seem to be one, except that the warranty doesn’t transfer to the second owner. The other thing worth noting is that, for the warranty to remain valid, owners have to have their vehicles inspected every five years, free of charge, by a Chrysler technician at a dealership:
This inspection requirement led to quite a bit of uproar. Last May, a bunch of disgruntled owners filed a Class Action lawsuit against FCA in the state of Michigan. The lawsuit basically resulted from owners’ frustration that their warranties had been voided because they had forgotten to get the required inspections.
Here’s a quote from the class action complaint:
As result, Plaintiffs have been forced to incur significant out-of-pocket expenses for parts and labor to fix their vehicles. To add insult to these injuries, FCA has expressly repudiated its obligations to repair Plaintiffs’ vehicles by altogether “revoking” their Lifetime Warranties. Thus, Plaintiffs going forward will incur further expenses to repair the powertrain components and parts of their vehicles.
5. Plaintiffs herein allege that FCA’s non-performance of its obligation under the Lifetime Warranty is without justification because (1) Plaintiffs were never given reasonable notice of the existence of Inspection Clause at the time of purchasing their vehicles and (2) the Inspection Clause is unconscionable.
My opinion doesn’t really matter on this, but I will say that the warranty inspection requirement is right at the front of the owner’s manual, and I’ll also say that — if I were to ever buy a car offering a lifetime powertrain warranty — the first thing I’d do is look at the fine print.
Honestly, I get why Chrysler requires the inspection. If someone doesn’t take care of their vehicle, of course the engine is going blow up; Chrysler needs a way to protect against that abuse. (With that said, there’s no doubt I’d forget, and then lose my warranty forever.)
Anyway, that’s not what this little article is about. This article is a “Question of the Day.” It’s basically an easy way for Jalopnik to increase reader engagement and get two free posts per day — one question and one that basically lists your answers in slideshow form. We get one pageview per slide, so this helps us really crank up our metrics, which means more ad sales, which means more money.
Anyway, with the Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty as an example, it’s time for you to tell us about the wildest tactics you’ve ever seen automakers and dealerships use to sell cars.