Lifetime Warranty?

Is your merchandise covered by a “Lifetime Warranty”?

A few of our product lines are covered by a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty, but most of the European and Japanese manufacurers do not play the American market warranty game.

Our importers will normally warranty items for periods from 90 days to a year in cases of obvious defects in manufacturing, and usually if they’ve done something stupid when they made the part, it will become obvious fairly quickly.

The length of the warranty has no real relationship with the quality of the part; some of our most reliable brands do not advertise a warranty at all. A manufacturer’s rep for a battery company told me once that their “lifetime” battery was actually a 5-year-type battery, and if someone kept the car longer and kept the paperwork, they would warranty the battery and charge it to advertising.

And of course, there is always the question of defining “lifetime.” Bendix, for example, used to advertise a lifetime warranty on their pads, but actually, one had to have sent in the card when the brakes were purchased to claim the warranty, and they will only replace them once.

The other day a customer was telling me about the great deal he got from a discount store on a starter, and that he had gotten seven starters under warranty. Fortunately, he does most of his own repairs; I wonder if he would be so enthused about replacing it seven times if he had to pay for labor.

We went through the same thing on one of my in-laws’ cars: we really didn’t think it was worth more than a cheapo alternator. After the fourth failure, we went to one of our good sources and got her a real alternator, which outlasted the car.