Warranties: Who's Responsible for What

August 25, 2016

When it comes to warranties, much like maintenance itself, everyone associated with a piece of equipment is on the hook for something—that means the manufacturer, the dealer, and you as the owner.

“The responsibility starts from the assembly line worker at the factory, to the person who sets up the equipment at the dealer, to the customer’s delivery person,” says Bruce Reader, a regional product support manager for Case Construction Equipment.

First up is the manufacturer. “The manufacturer is responsible for delivering a unit free of defects in material and/or workmanship, as well as providing a ‘Warranty and Limitations of Liability’ document that clearly defines what is and isn’t covered,” Reader says.

“They are also responsible for providing product support to their dealers, providing support for dealer warranty repairs, providing service information and training, as well as identifying product deficiencies and taking corrective action in the form of recalls, product improvement programs, and the like.”

Reader calls the equipment dealer the key conduit between the customer and manufacturer.

“The dealer is responsible for making sure that the purchaser understands their warranty coverage,” he says. “They are also responsible for providing product support and service for warranty repairs on behalf of the manufacturer, as well as having a strong knowledge of the manufacturer’s policies and procedures.”

Now it’s your turn as owner.

“The owner is responsible for making sure that all maintenance procedures are completed at the required intervals at a minimum, as well as following all manufacturer recommendations in regards to all fluids, oils and filters,” Reader says. 

The operator’s manual provides important information regarding service intervals, of course, but Reader offers a caveat. “You also need to take into account the application and environment in which the machine is working. Certain applications may have a considerable impact on warranty coverage,” he says.

If you’re doing demolition work, recycling/scrap handling, forestry, or other heavy-duty, high-impact applications, Reader says to make sure the machine is set up properly for the application, as the warranty coverage may depend on it.

“For example, when you’re working with heavy-duty hammers, breakers, and other attachments, the factory warranty may require that the machine be upgraded with an available heavy-duty package in order to work in those applications,” Reader says. “It’s also very important that any attachment be properly matched to its carrier.”

In addition, be sure to ask the equipment dealer how certain applications and attachment usage can affect maintenance intervals. Information should be available through the attachment manufacturer.

It is also the owner’s responsibility to report any equipment defects to the dealer in a timely manner. “Waiting to report an issue may have negative consequences for both the machine and the warranty coverage,” Reader says. “Your dealer will advise you as to whether the condition is detrimental to the equipment if operation is continued.”

Remember that warranty repairs must be performed during the warranty period. It sounds simple, but the everyday grind and complex job schedules can easily get in the way.

“Even if a machine is running properly for the time being, delaying a repair until the job is done and the warranty period is over will result in the repair not being covered,” Reader warns.

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