Finance: Maintenance packages

All machines need to be maintained and, if you are to preserve the re-sale value, then this invariably means using the manufacturer’s preferred dealer.

The variety of options available can seem complex – from those supported by the manufacturer to those supported by insurance – and they often span a range of needs from basic to intermediate to comprehensive.

It is for the buyer to determine what level of cover best suits their needs. Of course, the option remains to maintain the machine with the traditional pay-as-you-go policy, but managed packages are becoming increasingly popular as users come to appreciate the benefits of a dealer-supported maintenance programme.

“The market is very hungry for these packages as they satisfy the needs of a variety of users whether they are contract hire users or dairy farmers,” says Rob Alker, aftersales commercial manager for New Holland. “The benefits of a machine at a fixed cost which includes scheduled maintenance, removes much of the headache of service costs.”

Massey Ferguson Standard warranty is one-year/2000h, whichever is up first.

However, depending on the machine purchased and any offers MF is running at the time, it is possible to get a three-year/2400h warranty as standard. This can be extended further up to any scheduled service interval up to up to five years/6000h through the MF “manager” programme as long as it is agreed within the first 12 months of ownership. Three levels of cover are available: Manager service plan – basic level cover for servicing needs; Manager service and extended warranty – pay-as-you-go service package and extended warranty; Manager prepay – extended warranty and service package.

All costs are incorporated into repayment fees. Claims made under warranty do not incur an excess charge.

All Agco Aftersales programmes are manufacturer-backed, but delivered by your local dealer. The cost of manager prepay is incorporated in the finance deal with Agco making payments to the dealer for services delivered. The cost of a maintenance package is dependent on the cost base of the dealer, but varies significantly between dealers and their location.

Fendt Similar to MF, but the aftersales packages are sold under the name of StarService. Available for up to five years/6000 hours.

Challenger Like MF, the service and warranty packages are sold as Challenger manager, and are available for up to five years/10,000 hours.

Valtra Valtra PremiumCare offers the same level of cover available under other Agco brands, but up to four years/4000h.

New Holland includes warranty as standard on all T6000 and above models, including their successor ranges such as T6 models. It is available as an option all other models. The warranty is insurance-backed, rather than manufacturer-backed, but delivered by the dealer.

The package, called Service Plus, is a standard one-year warranty that can be extended by up to four years. All T6000 models and above come with “One+Two” included in the purchase cost – that is one year standard warranty plus a further two years. As an insurance-backed warranty the holder of the insurance policy is liable for an excess fee once a claim is made. The standard excess is £70, but it is possible to upgrade to a zero cost excess. The law requires all users of insurance-backed warranty packages to pay VAT on the price of the premium.

Like the maintenance arrangements offered by other manufacturers, New Holland’s packages benefit the user by fixing the annual cost of ownership. “We’re confident that we can offer an extremely competitive package based on our best in class service intervals,” says Rob Alker, New Holland after sales commercial manager. “The variable in this equation is the dealer’s labour cost, but that is the same for all brands.”

Case IH offers three levels of warranty and maintenance, designed to meet the needs of the user, but all can be purchased to give cover up to 5000h if purchased within the first 12 months of ownership.

Powertrain is the basic warranty package covering Engine, transmission, axles, hydrostats (if equipped) and all Stage 3b (Tier 4) components (if equipped).

Powertrain+ incorporates Powertrain, but also includes the hydraulic system and electronic controls. This is the most popular service package with 60% of new machines sold with Powertrain+.

Full Cover incorporates all of Powertrain+ and the cab.

Costs vary, but are based on a percentage of the list price. According to Richard Beedman, Case IH business director for UK and Ireland, service costs would typically add in the region of £1.50/h and about a further £1.50/h for Powertrain+ to the running costs over the life of the agreement. Powertrain+ is included as standard on all Puma, Magnum and Quadtrac machines for two years/2000h.

Claas offers a standard one-year warranty on all tractors, handlers and combine harvesters. This can then be extended for up to five years on combines and four years on tractors and handlers through the Maxi-Care programme.

Although the programme was designed by Claas, the policy is neither manufacturer nor insurance-backed, but a fully costed agreement between purchaser and dealer. The Maxi-Care programme is available in three specifications for tractors and combines, and two for handlers. It can be added at the time of purchase or shortly after. Maxi-Care is currently not available for forage harvesters.

Maxi-Care Bronze is a service package for combines, tractors and handlers. Combines are charged at a fixed annual price with servicing carried out at scheduled intervals. For tractors and handlers the arrangement differs slightly, in that the price is based on a pence per horsepower per hour equation with the charge levied at the time of servicing.

Maxi-Care Silver is available only on combines and tractors and includes the servicing elements of Maxi-Care Bronze, but also covers most machine failures from “fan to final drive”. In the case of combines it includes an annual wearing parts package. For combines this is charged at a pounds per acre rate and paid in one annual instalment, while tractors are charged a pence per horsepower per hour fee with the charge levied at the time of servicing.

Maxi-Care Gold is a service and maintenance package available on tractors, combines and handlers and covers all mechanical and electrical components (except batteries) that fail with the constraints of reasonable use. For tractors this is charged at a pence per horsepower per hour rate in line with the scheduled servicing needs and for combines at a pounds per acre rate. For combines, Maxi-Care Gold also incorporates a comprehensive package of wearing parts that should be sufficient to see the machine through the season.

All John Deere machines come with a 12-month product and 24-month engine warranty as standard, but this can be extended for up to five years/5000h with the purchase of one of three maintenance and service programmes.

PowerGard Maintenance is the basic service package that covers all necessary engine, transmission and fuel system maintenance and benefits from flexible payment options.

PowerGard Protection is the intermediate offering and covers all powertrain components (except tyres and tracks) in addition to the basic maintenance plan.

PowerGard Protection repair-and-maintenance coverage can be specified to provide up to four years additional protection following the specified normal 12-month product and 24-month engine warranty;

PowerGard Protection Plus is the comprehensive cover of all key machine components. As a full-coverage protection plan it also includes engine auxiliaries, electrical components, steering and brakes, hydraulics and cab.

“By budgeting for preventative care in this way, and having the tractor fully maintained by the dealer, the farmer can save on maintenance costs by locking into current parts and labour prices, as well as saving on his own time and labour,” says John Deere aftermarket sales manager James Morley.

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