Jump to content

    • You can post now and register later. Already registered? sign in now to post with your account.
    • ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

        Only 75 emoji are allowed.

      ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

      ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

      ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

      Once you submit your question, a new topic will be created for you in our forums. Our moderators may move your topic to a more suitable forum category if one exists. Members will see your topic and be able to respond to your question.

    • This will not be shown to other users.

Article: Lifetime warranties - They're not like they used to be

Recommended Posts

Lifetime Warranties

There are warranties, and then there are lifetime warranties. Some people won’t buy anything, unless it has a substantial warranty attached to it. My dad was one of those guys. It didn’t matter what it was as long as he could get a warranty with it. He would be as proud as a peacock when he got the chance to use one of those warranties. But, for me, it could be rather embarrassing. Especially for a ten year old kid carrying a broken toilet seat into the hardware store where dad had bought it with a lifetime warranty years earlier. I can still picture it today, dad with his big grin on his mug, marching up to the return counter with his ancient receipt showing the date, the store manager’s name and of course, the warranty. While I’m cowering behind him carrying the broken toilet seat in shame. I did my best to hide my face the whole time, in fear one of my classmates might spot me with the family throne in tow.

Warranties have their place, that’s for sure. However, a decade or so ago when all these large franchised discount auto parts stores started to monopolize the market by offering lifetime warranties on their parts that I’ve noticed a problem. Now, it seems every consumer wants every part for every car to come with a lifetime warranty. It’s not that I think any of the major players in the automotive parts business couldn’t offer a lifetime warranty, but why should they? From my past experiences the failure rate of a quality part is far less than those discount parts with lifetime warranties. But, the average DIY’r doesn’t see it that way. They are still going to go with the cheaper-discount part when cost is an issue, and since it comes with a lifetime warranty that’s all the better. In my opinion these lifetime warranties should come with a disclaimer, “You’ll be changing it for the rest of your life. Because the replacement for the replacement part is just as cheaply made as the first one.”

When I hear someone tell me they changed an alternator five times in a row, because the one they put in stopped working again, I have to wonder is the problem the part or is it the diagnosis? Sometimes, it’s both. Other times, it’s a lack of knowing how the systems operates. Of course, after changing it so many times they’ve got the physical side of removing the bolts or a belt down pretty good. And, I’ll bet they can probably change it out a lot faster than I can. Since their labor is free, it’s a no brainer… go ahead and change it again…and again…and again.


A perfect example of this was the guy who did just as I described; he changed his alternator five times in a row, and every time it would last a week or so. By the time he had enough with the cheap parts he finally asked for a better quality part one. But, a week later it was back to not charging again. This time the counter person had to tell him, “This one doesn’t carry the lifetime warranty.” And now… it’s my turn.

The whole problem turned out to be a melted connection at the voltage regulator plug. Every time he would reconnect it to the alternator it would last a week or so, before the connector worked loose again. When I told him what it was he was not only shocked, but made the same comment they all make when they’re paying their bill. “I should have just brought it here in the first place.” Hmm, imagine that. The real question is whether or not any of the replaced alternators were ever bad at all. I can’t answer that with any honesty, because all I had in front of me was a name brand part that was working just fine with the connector repaired.

HID headlights are another common repair these days. Sometimes they can be rather expensive and time consuming to repair. The failures seem to run in groups, you know, several at a time with the same sort of problems. They all have the same odd aftermarket bulb or ballast installed. (I think the part goes on sale on the internet and then they all jump at a chance to buy them.) They’re definitely not factory parts, but some cheaply made offshore find. The car will come in with the usual complaints that one headlamp or one beam isn’t working, and they already replaced all this stuff. (Ballast, bulbs, etc…) So, I’m supposed to find some sort of electrical gremlin that’s knocking them out. When the entire time, and every time (so far) it’s faulty parts that have caused the issue.

Well, of course it can’t be the part. Why, it has a lifetime warranty on it. Don’t ya know I’ve heard that a few times? Somehow the cost difference between factory original parts, and the aftermarket sideshow parts doesn’t ring a bell as to which ones might be a bit better. Oh, I got it. The difference between the two was that “lifetime” warranty. One has it and the other doesn’t. So, which one do you think carries the lifetime warranty? You guessed it. SOLD! Sold ya right down the river more like it. Needless to say, most of the time the customer doesn’t want to go with the factory parts; they’d rather take their chances with another lifetime warranty from parts unknown.

I’ll bet you can probably guess by now, I’m not all that impressed with a lifetime warranty as a selling point. Or, for that matter changing out one lifetime warranty part with another lifetime warranty part unless it’s properly stated on the invoice and known by the customer that I take absolutely no responsibility for their components. I only guarantee the installation and diagnostic work. How long that part lasts is up to your driving habits and your lifetime warranty.


Maybe I’m just a little one sided in all of this. Maybe I should give these lifetime warranty parts a better recommendation. That’s hard to do, considering the failure rates I’ve seen from them over the years. Mind you, they’re not built like a 60’s toilet seat that finally broke after decades of use with a house full of kids. Back then a lifetime warranty was generally only offered with the better made parts. The manufacturers did it to say, “We’re proud of our product!” It wasn’t just to make a quick sale and a fast buck.


Click here to view the article

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We allow visitors to read the first post of each topic. To read this post, please login or register for a membership. 

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Topics

    • By Joe Marconi
      The year was 1980 - the year I founded my company. And, like many new business owners, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what was needed to grow a successful business.  I thought that success would be determined by my technical skills and my willingness to wear the many hats of the typical shop owner. It wasn’t until I began to let go of trying to do everything that I realized that success is not just dependent on what I do, but by the collective work accomplished by the team. I eventually discovered that I was not the center of my universe.  After a few years in business, I began the transition from simply owning a job to becoming a businessman. And, while technology has reshaped our industry throughout the years—and will continue to do so—there is one constant that will never change: success in business rests largely on the people you have assembled around you.
      By the late '80s it was obvious that I was doing way too much. I looked at each role I had my hands on: shop foreman, service advisor, shuttle driver, bookkeeper to lot attendant. And, as long as I’m confessing all this to you, I need to disclose that I was also the shop’s maintenance person; making repairs to the bay doors, the slop sink and equipment. You name it, I did it. I was literally too busy to be successful.
      In order to lead my company, I had to first clearly define my responsibilities. These are working on the business, recruiting and hiring the best employees, becoming a leader of people and making sure that my business was successful. I also needed to fulfill the obligation I had to my employees. I realized that this required a deep understanding that putting people first is the best strategy for success. This was difficult at first because it requires working on things that have no immediate impact on the business. Unlike working in the trenches and having your hands on everything, working as a businessperson means that you need to spend time building for the future. The things that are most important to your success in business are the things that have a payoff down the road.  
      I also clearly defined the duties I should not be doing and assigned those tasks to others. This is a critical step for any shop owner.  Warren Buffett says that in order to be successful in whatever you do, it’s crucial to focus on the things that generates the greatest return and that you can’t do it all, and that means sometimes you have to say, “no.”  
      By the late '90s it became clear that the most valuable role I played in my business was that of coach. All the best marketing plans and the best business strategies mean nothing without a team of great people around you all pushing in the right direction. And that takes a strong leader. Not just a boss, but a leader.  Leaders inspire people. Leaders get others to reach down deep inside themselves and perform at their best because they are aligned with the leader’s vision. 
      Leaders inspire others through praise and recognition for the work they do. When people feel their work matters, they have a purpose. People are motivated by the heart, not the wallet. That’s not to say earning a decent wage isn’t important. But a focus on money alone is not a strategy for success. Focus on people first and profit will follow.  
      Spend time with your employees. Get to know them as people, not just the role they have in your company.  Find out what their dreams and goals are. And then find a way for others to achieve what they want out of life.  People cannot be motivated until they realize that what they do every day helps them to achieve what they want in their personal life.  
      There are other people in our business world that we must never forget. And that’s our customers.  If you were to ask me, who is more important, my employees or my customers? I would answer, “They are equally important.”  You cannot have a successful business without the right employees and the right customers.  
      One last bit of advice I can give you is to focus on your success, no one else’s.  Be very clear about the pathways you take and never forget about the obligation you have to others. Build a company culture of teamwork, quality and integrity.  Focus on what’s in the best interest of the customer and the people around you. Put people first, and everything else will fall into place.  
      This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on February 4th, 2020


      View full article
    • By Joe Marconi
      According to Zip Recruiter, tech pay on average is about $41,000 per year.  Is this an issue?   I know many of you pay more than average, but do you think that we need to increase tech pay in order to attract more people to the auto repair industry.   One other thing to consider, the shop and shop owner needs to be profitable and make the money first in order to pay anyone a decent wage.
      Your thoughts?  
    • By CAautogroup
      Hi all,
      I was wondering where do you typically display your shop warranty policies? Sign posted in office, at the bottom of the invoice, bottom of signed work order, on your website?
      What do you recommend?
    • By Jay Huh
      Saw a Tesla the other day at the mall with it completely stripped down.
      Has tires with tie rods connected to the steering column and a self contained motor at the rear.
      No oil, no spark plugs, no moving components.... everything electronic.... NOTHING to replace but tires and possibly brakes every 100,000 miles.
      Is this the future? How long, in 20 years? 15 years? I'm 30 and I think I will be good by the time I retire but a completely different story for the next generation. Gotta think too, as we start transitioning over, there will be less and less work for the numerous number of automotive shops out there. Just in my shopping center alone, there are 5 major shops and 1 more across the street. In our 5 mile radius, there has got to be more than 20
    • By Framingham Auto Service
      I had  very high hopes for the beginning of 2017, taking in consideration that we finished the year very strong, and had a very good January.
      But it seems that the ground had open it and swallowed all the business......
      How about you guys, how are you doing?

  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors

  • Create New...