auto

Free maintenance on some luxury cars

Tara Baukus MelloIt's a competitive car market out there, and luxury carmakers are not going to be left in the dust by aggressive incentives offered by other car companies. To boost sales, many have returned to the ploy of offering free maintenance on their cars to move them off the lot.

While all of the free car maintenance programs will save you money, the amount varies widely from as little as $100 to as much as $7,400 depending on the model and the automaker's guidelines and based on cost of ownership data from NADAGuides.com.

Among the luxury car brands offering some form of a free maintenance program, Volvo's plan has the biggest savings. Its Safe + Secure Coverage Plan essentially eliminates all ownership costs for the first five years or 60,000 miles on 2009, 2010 and 2011 models. The plan, which covers all car maintenance, repairs and wear-and-tear items, saves drivers $3,500 to $4,500 on national average, depending on the model.

The Volvo plan includes free factory scheduled car maintenance during the five-year or 60,000-mile warranty period, which would encompass eight services, assuming the national average of 12,000 miles driven annually. Also included is free replacement of wear-and-tear items, including brake pads and rotors and windshield-wiper inserts. And, unlimited roadside assistance is part of the free maintenance plan.

While Volvo's plan offers benefits for five years or 60,000 miles to luxury-car buyers, lessees also receive the same benefits though the coverage is offered only through the lease term if it is shorter than five years or 60,000 miles. But there's a catch. Lessees using a provider other than U.S. Bank -- Volvo's lease provider -- will only receive benefits on luxury cars for up to 36 months or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Jaguar's Platinum Coverage is a close second in free maintenance for luxury cars. While customers have the potential to save $6,200 to $7,400 on average, depending on the model, the plan provides coverage for just five years or 50,000 miles. The reduced mileage makes it less likely that customers will be able to take full advantage of all the scheduled car maintenance and potential repairs. Additionally, the plan is only offered on 2011 Jaguar luxury car models.

BMW's free maintenance plan, called Ultimate Service, offers the next biggest savings, ranging from $2,100 to $3,300 on average, depending on the model. The plan is nearly identical to the other free maintenance programs, but it only provides coverage for four years or 50,000 miles.

While Audi and Lexus have the same four-year or 50,000-mile warranty that BMW offers, their free maintenance is much less, paying for just the first factory scheduled service, a $100 to $250 value on national average, depending on the model. Both luxury-car companies also offer free roadside assistance during the warranty period.

Some automakers offer maintenance packages at the time of the sale that have the customer pay for their factory scheduled maintenance in advance. While there's no charge for the car maintenance at the time of the service, these programs are not free maintenance. And because these programs are often added to the loan balance, they are usually not the best financial choice because consumers are paying interest on the program amount and because it makes it even easier to be upside down in the loan for a longer period.

Even with the free maintenance programs from these luxury automakers, customers are still paying the higher price tag that comes with owning a luxury car. As a result, shoppers should consider the real savings of these programs carefully before letting the enticement of free maintenance seal the deal.

Ask the adviser

If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.
 

Bankrate's content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this Web site, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this Web site is governed by Bankrate's Terms of Use.

News alert Create a news alert for "auto"

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
advertisement
CAR & MONEY NEWSLETTER

Get cost-cutting tips for buying, selling and maintaining your wheels. Delivered monthly.

advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Blog

Tara Baukus Mello

FTC targets deceptive car ads

The FTC has taken action against two car dealership chains for deceptively advertising the costs of buying and leasing cars.  ... Read more


Connect with us