When Super Isn't So Super

Can "Super Warranties" clean up the air without forcing independent repair shops out of business?


I've been reading up a little on the "Super Warranty" issue, which, I must admit, I had never heard of until my Assistant Editor mentioned it. Super Warranties are being mandated by more and more states to cover automotive emission-control systems for 15 years or 150,000 miles, and independent repair shops in those states are not pleased. The idea was hatched in California, where the Air Resources Board (CARB) decided that it would be a good idea to keep emissions-control hardware under warranty longer. And it is a good idea: People are keeping their vehicles longer, so it makes sense, from CARB’s point of view, to do everything it can to ensure that those vehicles will be running clean for their entire lives. Super Warranties can make sure that this happens, and 11 other states seem to agree, because they’ve adopted similar regulations as part of their clean air initiatives. But where does that leave the independent service provider, who currently makes a lot of coin repairing emissions-control systems? If vehicle owners are compelled to return to the dealer to get their emissions-control systems maintained, the logic goes, they are likely to have all their service needs taken care of at the dealer, killing two birds with one stone. The independent shops lose out twice: once on the emissions-control work, and twice on the additional service work. I’m not sure where I come down on this. As I said, I do think the Super Warranties make sense, from a clean air point of view. But I also understand why independent service providers might feel they have had the rug pulled out from under them. It just goes to show you how hard it is to find solutions to the complex issues facing our transportation industry, and our country. Can there possibly be a way to have clean air that doesn’t make someone unhappy?