A convincing case for prepaid maintenance

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

Prepaid maintenance seems to be a growing F&I phenomenon. And that used to puzzle me.

Last month Mazda was the latest make to offer a branded prepaid maintenance plan. The plan, Mazda Total Advantage, is administered by EasyCare and can be financed through Chase Auto Finance. Chase also is the private-label preferred lender for Subaru, Jaguar and Land Rover, all of which have branded prepaid maintenance plans.

I can see why dealers like the plans. As Maria Pacifico-Shore, chairman of the Mazda National Dealer Advisory Council, explained to me, prepaid maintenance plans increase service retention and customer loyalty.

But for customers, it's more difficult to see the attraction. Why pay for something before you need it? But Pacifico-Shore explained that, too. "It is one less thing to worry about during their busy lives," she said.

Put that way, prepaid maintenance plans do make sense for some.