For the most part, warranty changes for the 2000 model year consisted of a little nip here, a little tuck there.
Isuzu made the biggest splash: a new 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain warranty on all its sport-utilities, up from a five-year/60,000-mile program. The Hombre compact pickup powertrain warranty, however, will remain at five years/60,000 miles. All other cove rage for Isuzu remains the same.
Ferrari introduced a new vehicle, the 360 Modena, for 2000. With the new vehicle comes across-the-board, three-year/unlimited-miles coverage. The rest of Ferrari's stable will continue to be covere d by a two-year/unlimited-miles program.
Other automakers making changes include Subaru, which added a three-year/36,000-mile roadside-assistance program for all its vehicles. In 1999 it offered none.
Mazda now will back all its vehicles with a three-year/50,000-mile roadside assistance program. In 1999, only the Millenia and MPV were included.
General Motors will offer a nickel-metal-hydride battery option on its EV-1 later this year, although the vehicle still will be a 1999 model.
The nickel-metal-hydride battery will come with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty, the same as is offered with the EV-1's standard lead-acid battery.
In addition to standard warranty programs, several automakers offer free maintenance for new vehicles.
For 2000 models, BMW offers a broad three-year/36,000-mile 'full maintenance' program on its complete vehicle line. This includes replacement of wear-and-tear items such as brake pads, brake rotors and wiper blades. BMW will replace these items 'as the car requires them,' said BMW spokesman Dave Buchko.
Previously, BMW had offered what it termed 'scheduled maintenance' on its full vehicle line. Th is included basic fluid and filter changes. The automaker had offered four-year/50,000-mile full maintenance on its 750 models, however, since 1995.
Mercedes also now offers a free-maintenance program on all new vehicles. This includes work such as changing oil, replacing filters and rubber dust covers and lubricating door hinges.
'There's a leftover perception that Mercedes vehicles are expensive to maintain,' said spokesman Fred Heiler. 'Hopefully, th is will kill that.'
The concept is not new. Several other automakers, including Daewoo, Audi, Volkswagen and GM - for its EV-1 only - offer some type of maintenance program with their new-vehicle warranties.
Rolls-Royce offered a free-maintenance program, for one year, in 1994.
However, 'It had very little impact,' said John Hill, Rolls-Royce spokesman. So the automaker cut the program.
Said Hill: 'The actual cost of servicing our cars is under $3,00 0 for several years.'