Connecting with Fleet Sales
There are two ways to connect with fleet sales operations. If you are purchasing a basic cargo van, your local dealership will have a fleet manager. Call to make an appointment to discuss your specific purchase interest. Remember, the dealership has a goal of moving vans designated by the manufacturer as fleet vehicles to earn their fleet sale rebates. Consider making some concessions if the dealership has a vehicle in their inventory that will meet your needs. A van sitting on the dealership lot provides a larger negotiation opportunity.
If you are looking for a specialized van such as one outfitted as a mobile office or one designed for wheelchair transportation, the manufacturers fleet departments can connect you to authorized partners, also known as upfitters or modifiers who sell their brand of vehicles. Their authorized partner can help establish a fleet account with the manufacturer at the time of the sale.
All van manufacturers mentioned in this guide have specific fleet websites that allow easy online ordering. You must be enrolled in the manufacturer’s fleet program to access these websites which allow you to build to your specifications and see fleet pricing. Obtaining a fleet number is an important first step in taking advantage of fleet programs. This unique identifier number provides you with priority service and attention and can be obtained through the fleet websites.
Benefits of Fleet Sales
There are many benefits to purchasing your van under a fleet program. Those benefits include competitive and unique financing programs offering flexible terms for longer periods than consumer loans. Many fleet programs expedite your fleet vehicle to the front of the line for maintenance and repairs. Fleet accounts offer discounts on parts and prepaid maintenance plans to keep your van healthy. Fleet owners are given preferential treatment through the manufacturer’s dealership network. Many of the manufacturers operate separate fleet service centers that are better prepared for handling rush repairs and service for fleet vehicles. Fleet owners can establish a fleet billing account that provides one single invoicing point regardless of which dealership performed services on your fleet vehicle. Enhanced roadside service is typically offered to fleet customers.
Warranties can save a fleet owner money by using warranty claims. Many fleet owners get in the habit of taking vehicles to a designated repair facility for every problem without checking to see if the vehicle/part is still covered under warranty. If you purchase your van from an authorized modifier or upfitter, your van may have two separate warranties that cover the powertrain and the upfitting. An authorized modifier operates the same as a dealership and can help you coordinate warranty repairs. Your vehicle may need to be sent to a dealership or fleet service center if the concern involves the powertrain. As a rule of thumb, always check your warranty coverage for any repairs that need to be made in the first five years of ownership.
There are three types of warranties:
- Base warranty: Also referred to as the OEM warranty, this warranty type is covered by the van manufacturer. It can cover the full vehicle but will at the very minimum cover the drivetrain. That includes the engine, transmission and axles.
- Extended component warranty: This refers to any warranty that extends beyond the base OEM warranty and is sold for a separate fee (see below).
- Aftermarket parts warranty: Any part of your van upfitted by an approved third-party vendor may have a separate warranty offered directly from the vendor. Warranties on fleet vans can provide much longer protection than a consumer purchase. Fleet warranties average 5-years and 100,000 miles. Some warranties are offered for up to 8 years and 150,000 miles.
Much like an insurance policy, an extended warranty can provide financial protection for catastrophic failures and expensive repairs. These warranties are provided by vehicle manufacturers as well as third-party warranty companies. They range in price from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars and the decision to purchase one should be based on how long you plan to keep your new van and how many miles you expect to drive on an annual basis. If you plan to keep the vehicle longer than three to five years, you might want to consider an extended warranty. If you plan to keep it less than three years, the vehicle would be under warranty the entire time of ownership.
If you operate a large fleet, it might not make sense to purchase an extended warranty for each vehicle since it is unlikely that more than one of your fleet vehicles would experience a major mechanical breakdown in a single year. The cost of adding extended warranties to your vehicles might not pencil out. Smaller fleets might benefit by the investment since an unbudgeted major repair could become a financial challenge for a small business.
In comparing aftermarket warranties versus those provided by the manufacturer, there are several considerations. First and foremost is the trust placed in the manufacturer for taking care of the vehicle they made. Aftermarket warranties offer the advantage of a wider network of service providers who may get your vehicle back on the road more quickly than a dealership. However, be sure to ask if parts replaced are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or made from a third-party. Also ask if repairs are done by an OEM trained and certified mechanic. Whether you go with an OEM extended warranty or a third-party, failure to follow preventative maintenance can void a warranty of any type.
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