Photo courtesy of GM.

Photo courtesy of GM.

General Motors is rolling back the number of visits under its free maintenance program across the board for Chevrolet, Buick and GMC vehicles for fleets amid a change to its powertrain warranty that mostly affects retail buyers.

The moves were announced in a March 11 memo to dealers stating that GM will reduce the Chevrolet and GMC extended powertrain warranty, which covers the engine, transmission and transaxle, transfer case, drive systems and emissions control systems, from five years or 100,000 miles to five years or 60,000 miles. The two offerings will continue to include roadside assistance. The modifications will take effect on 2016 model-year vehicles.

GM will also reduce the number of service visits under its two-year, 24,000-mile Chevrolet Complete Care, GMC Pro Grade Protection and Experience Buick Protection maintenance programs from four to two.

The warranty change will mostly affect retail customers, and GM will continue to offer the five-year, 100,000-mile warranty to "most of our commercial and government fleet customers," said Robert Wheeler, communications manager for GM Fleet & Commercial. The changes to the maintenance program will be the same for retail and fleet customers, Wheeler told Automotive Fleet.

Fleet vehicles eligible for the prior warranty include those purchased by fleet management companies, businesses or organizations, federal and non-federal governmental agencies, and bid center support fleets, according to the memo. Small businesses would get the updated warranty.

The move was based on consumer research that showed free maintenance and warranty coverage weren’t major purchase considerations, according to a company spokesperson. Internal company data showed a significant drop off in consumer usage of the maintenance program after the first visit, the spokesperson added.

"We talked to our customers and learned that free scheduled maintenance and warranty coverage do not rank high as a reason to purchase a vehicle among buyers of non-luxury brand," read a statement GM issued to F&I and Showroom.

The OEM's research regarding free maintenance contradicts findings in J.D. Power and Associate’s 2014 Customer Service Index Study. Aside from showing that the percentage of vehicle owners with complimentary or prepaid vehicle maintenance more than doubled over the previous five years, the study found that brand repurchase rates were higher among vehicle owners (72%) who had a complimentary or prepaid maintenance program vs. vehicle owners who didn't (62%).

In its statement, GM added: “Even with these changes, our included maintenance and extended powertrain warranty program remain among the most competitive in the industry. We will reinvest the savings in features consumer value more, such as advanced connected vehicle technology."

By Gregory Arroyo

Editor's note: This story first appeared on F&I and Showroom's website.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet