REMARKETING

Ford extends warranties of certified used vehicles

Ford’s Glenn Burke, center, on why the automaker has extended its certified used warranties: “We hope to bring certified customers into the Ford family.”
DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. says it expects improvements to its certified used-vehicle programs to help turn used-car owners into new-car customers.

This month, Ford Motor extended the powertrain warranty on all certified Ford and Mercury cars and trucks to 6 years/100,000 miles from when the vehicles were sold as new. The previous warranty on 2006-model and older vehicles was for 6 years/75,000 miles.

The automaker also boosted the comprehensive warranty on Lincoln certified vehicles to 6 years/100,000 miles. Bumper-to-bumper coverage of vehicles built before the 2007 model year had been 6 years/75,000 miles.

Glenn Burke, manager of Ford Motor's certified programs, said improved quality of the company's vehicles helped make the extended warranties possible. He said Ford is doing more to integrate sales of certified used with new vehicles.

"We hope to bring certified customers into the Ford family" with the improved warranties, Burke told Automotive News. "Three years down the road, when they're ready for another vehicle, their first thought is a Ford or Lincoln or Mercury product."

Burke said 15 percent of consumers who own a Ford Motor certified vehicle eventually buy a new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle.

About 70 percent of Ford's domestic-brand dealers take part in the certified program, he said.

Last month, the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands sold 12,609 certified vehicles, up 10.5 percent from March 2007. In the first quarter of 2008, the brands sold 35,150 certified cars and trucks, up 7.7 from the year-ago quarter.

Overall, the industry sold 154,491 certified used vehicles in March, down 4.6 percent from March 2007. First-quarter certified sales were essentially flat.

Ford outlined other changes to its certified programs at an industry conference this month in suburban Detroit, sponsored by Auto Remarketing magazine. They include:

-- Ford and Mercury certified vehicles now are covered by a 3-month/3,000-mile comprehensive warranty from when the car is sold as used. The vehicles previously did not have bumper-to-bumper coverage.

-- To be eligible for certification, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles now can be no more than 6 model years old and have fewer than 80,000 miles. The previous limits were 5 years and 50,000 miles.

-- Ford Super Duty Econoline and Super Duty F-series trucks now are eligible for certification.

Larry Taylor, owner of Beau Townsend Ford in Vandalia, Ohio, helped craft the extended certified warranties. His dealership sold 862 certified Ford vehicles in 2007, the third most of any Ford store. He said he expects the extended warranties to boost certified sales.

"It's going to get better," Taylor said. "This thing has really taken off." 

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com

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