A Thicker Security Blanket

Owner-operators who are skittish about buying low-emission engines after Oct. 1 should take a close look at extended warranties. Many buyers are already well-acquainted with them.

A survey of Overdrive readers shows that 43 percent of those who bought a new truck also paid for an extended warranty. The protection makes sense, especially for over-the-road operators, for whom downtime means too much financial loss and, when it occurs away from home, inconvenience.

Many warranties, such as Caterpillar’s, can be extended to five years or 500,000 miles. Cummins’ vocational engines go as far as seven years. So if you’re a recent buyer or plan to buy in the next few months, you can postpone driving the new engines for a long time and still stay under warranty.

The window of opportunity for getting an extended warranty varies considerably.

Caterpillar customers can buy an extended warranty at no extra charge within 180 days of delivery, or up to a year later by paying a fee, says Bruce Ballard, Cat account executive. Cummins customers need to buy coverage within six months of buying the engine or pay a higher fee on a sliding scale for a limited period after that, says spokesperson Amy Davis.

Detroit Diesel offers the extension for 90 days, then at a premium until the base warranty of two years and unlimited miles expires, says Rick Dziadzio, manager of service operations. “Once our base warranty expires, we could still sell them our used truck warranty,” he says.

If you’re a little fuzzy about what warranties apply to your engine vs. other components, check your papers. “Oftentimes we have customers calling in here, and they don’t realize there is a difference,” says Mary Ruth Bell, manager of purchase coverage for Volvo. Standard warranties for Volvo are 24 months, 250,000 miles for the engine, and 12 months, 100,000 miles for the chassis. Extended warranties on both are available, but must be purchased within six months of the truck purchase.

Cost, too, varies a lot. Cummins prices its extended warranties by horsepower, Davis says. Its Fleet Protection Plan (also available to owner-operators) ranges from about $500 to about $1,600. Detroit Diesel lists its five-year, 500,000-mile full coverage plan for $2,000.

If you have warranty questions, check with your dealer. That’s always the best source for interpreting current coverage or exploring options.

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