All new vehicles are covered under a factory warranty program, with some truck manufacturers setting aside close to 3% of their revenue to pay warranty expenses. One ongoing industry trend is more stringent enforcement of manufacturer-recommended preventive maintenance (PM) services required for warranty coverage eligibility.
As a consequence, fleets must adhere to the OEM's PM recommendations and diligently follow these guidelines. Specifically, OEMs want additional documentation to support warranty claims to ensure a unit was maintained properly before the failure occurred.
This increasingly stringent warranty enforcement underscores the importance of PM compliance and documentation of services performed. During the warranty claims process, a fleet’s adherence to PM schedules are closely scrutinized, with OEMs focused on PM variability.
A complete maintenance history is critical for warranty recovery efforts that documents you have followed the manufacturer's recommended PM schedule.
PM on Engine Hours for High-Idle Units
Excessive engine idling doesn’t just consume fuel; it also creates engine hours, which depending on the OEM, are used to determine when the powertrain warranty expires.
Certain fleet applications require a vehicle to idle for long periods to operate auxiliary equipment using a power take-off, which doesn’t create odometer mileage since the vehicle is stationary.
One hour of idling is equal to 25 to 30 miles of driving. High engine hours in low-mileage vehicles can create potential issues that void warranty compliance. Some fleets don’t realize this and are surprised when they are denied coverage, thinking the vehicle is within the warranty mileage parameters or has followed the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.
Excessive engine hour usage creates wear-and-tear on the engine, decreasing engine life, requiring more frequent PM intervals to stay in warranty compliance.
Negligence with Diesel Emission Systems
Another potential issue with warranty compliance involves the diesel emissions system, such as diesel particulate filters (DPFs), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). Full regeneration (burning off of soot) of the DPF in urban applications is difficult, when there may be as many as 30 to 40 stops per day.
If a driver doesn’t accelerate a truck to highway speed long enough to allow for a full regeneration cycle, eventually, the DPF filter will clog.
Any system that directly interfaces with the engine (such as fuel, cooling, and exhaust) is strongly impacted by high engine hours. For instance, a truck in a high-idling fleet application is less likely to generate temperatures high enough to perform optimal regenerations for the diesel oxidation catalyst.
During long periods of idling, the operating temperature is lower than a typical duty cycle, requiring the need for more manual regeneration.
The increased costs related to new emissions technologies have leveled off as fleets and drivers have become more familiar with the trucks. Still, there is a constant stream of new drivers entering the workforce who may not be as familiar as you would like with diesel emissions requirements.
Drivers are increasingly more responsible for proper maintenance protocols. It’s important for drivers to understand the trucks they’re operating. When it comes to filling the DEF tank, even today some drivers put the wrong product in the wrong tank, creating a potential warranty issue that requires a fleet to back clean the system. To avoid needless warranty issues, it is critical to ensure proper driver compliance with maintenance responsibilities when operating a unit.
Document, Document, Document
The bottom line is that truck fleet managers need to be diligent in tracking and documenting PM work to ensure there is no PM variability, to educate drivers on vehicle operations to avoid dumb mistakes, and to keep track of not only miles, but also engine hours.
To increase the probability of receiving post-warranty goodwill assistance for issues that occur just outside the warranty coverage period, OEMs consider customer loyalty and documentation of a vehicle’s complete maintenance history.
A word to the wise — document everything.
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Originally posted on Automotive Fleet