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Kia says rival warranty offers confuse

Car company warranties are sending mixed messages to customers with unclear warranty policies, according to Kia Australia.

As rival car companies start to increase the lengths of warranties, the pioneer of the seven-year warranty - Kia Australia - has suggested that the industry could do more to simplify the warranty message.

Kia Australia managing director, Damian Meredith, believes some car companies are sending confusing messages to consumers, thanks to an inconsistent approach to warranty offers.

Mr Meredith has said previously that the company is surprised that more of its rivals haven’t moved to permanently lengthier warranties.

“My personal view is that there is no-one approaching us with seven years and unlimited kilometres,” he said at the launch of the facelifted Sportage SUV in Canberra. “Other players are edging closer, but not on all models – in my view, it ends up confusing the consumer.”

Subaru, for example, offers a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty as standard, but on occasion offers a two-year extension on different models.

He also confirmed Kia would seriously look at adding three more years to its current seven-year plan if it needed to

After around 12 months of on-again, off-again offers, Holden has recently announced a move to a permanent five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty for private and ABN buyers, on top of an unusual new $500 test drive incentive.

Both Ford and Hyundai also now offer five-year, unlimited kilometre warranties for private buyers, while Mazda and Toyota persist with three-year warranties - Mazda with unlimited kilometres, while Toyota remains one of the few brands left with a 100,000km limit.

Mr Meredith points to the potential for confusion within the dealer network down the track, as different models of vehicle from a manufacturer are presented for warranty claims down the track.

“Warranty clerks down the track are going to be confused for sure, and so will customers,” said Mr Meredith. 

He also confirmed Kia would seriously look at adding three more years to its current seven-year plan if it needed to - a move that would see the company mirror what it offers in markets like the US and UK, where 10 years' warranty is offered (but not with an unlimited kilometre limit). 

“We still have the advantage over our competitors,” he said. “We have territory to protect, and we’ll protect our turf if we need to.

“We would look at a 10-year warranty. It’s done in other territories like the United States, and we would definitely consider it.”

Kia may be the leader for warranty cover when it comes to mainstream, mass-market models, but electric car manufacturer Tesla announced it would cover its cars with an eight-year/160,000km warranty earlier this year.

Do promotional warranty plans confuse you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.