Jaguar no longer provides free scheduled maintenance for new vehicles that are under warranty.
Ford Motor Co.'s luxury-car brand ended its free maintenance programs for 2006 models covered by bumper-to-bumper warranties. The policy does not affect vehicles from previous model years.
"This will increase profitability for our dealers," says Jaguar spokeswoman Anne Clinard.
"We have had no negative feedback from customers. And this gives dealers a chance to sell prepaid maintenance plans."
Dealers who sell the two brands say the cost of the free-maintenance programs outweighed their benefits.
The programs are designed to encourage customers to return to the dealership for routine service. But some dealers say luxury buyers prefer to use their service departments in any event. They say the policy change will not affect buyers of expensive vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz USA LLC dropped free scheduled maintenance in the 2005 model year.
"I think it will have a minimal effect," says Norm Karsh, general manager of Mercedes-Benz of Littleton in Colorado.
"The vehicles need little maintenance," Karsh says. "And I don't think maintenance of $500 to $800 has any effect on the luxury car buyer."
Larry Sealy, service manager of Lee Jaguar in Wellesley, Mass., says the end of free service may cause a lower-end luxury customer to think twice about returning to the dealership for scheduled maintenance.
But many of his customers earn more than $250,000 a year, Sealy notes. He says they pay service bills of $550 to $1,200 without complaint.
"They are not going to haggle," he says. "If their car needs something, they will just fix it."
Sealy estimates one in six customers may not return for maintenance work because he or she thinks the service is too expensive. He says he is offering discount coupons to keep those customers' loyalty.
Among other luxury automakers, BMW, Land Rover and Audi still provide free scheduled maintenance during the bumper-to-bumper warranty period.
Lincoln and Saab say they have not decided whether they will continue their free-maintenance programs for new vehicles.
BMW spokesman Dave Buchko says the vast majority of the company's customers come back to dealerships for service during the four-year bumper-to-bumper warranty period.
The free maintenance "allows our retailers to develop a strong rapport with customers," Buchko says. "We have no plans to drop the program in the foreseeable future."
You may e-mail Donna Harris at [email protected]