Having grown up in a tool repair business I’ve had the opportunity to experience a wide range of creative uses for power tools. Some of those uses don’t always fall under what the manufacturers might suggest. When I was presented with the opportunity to share some of those experiences, I got very excited. It could be very useful for some or, at the very least, entertaining. People get very excited about tool warranties. The thing is, though, some things are simply not covered under your power tool warranty.
And we’ve seen a lot of those things throughout the years.
Power Tool Warranty Coverage – Then vs Now
The tool business has changed dramatically since our company, Ohio Power Tool, was founded in 1983. Among the changes has been a huge transition to overseas manufacturing and significant cost-cutting in production. But at the same time, manufacturers’ warranties have actually been getting longer on many products. The phrase “covered under warranty” can lead to some interesting conversations. After all, some warranties go out 2 years, 3 years—even 5 years or more. My personal favorite? The lifetime warranty.
In the “good old days” of tool repairs, our company did most of its business servicing pneumatic, hydraulic and electric tools. We had as many as 4 to 5 mechanics on staff. Back then, tools cost a lot more than they do today. However, manufacturers knew that wearable parts would need to be replaced. They also anticipated this happening several times before the tool was put to rest. It seemed inconceivable at that time that tools would be made without an abundant supply of replacement parts.
Of course, back then, warranties were also much shorter. They frequently topped out at 30 or 90 days. Perhaps you’d get a 1-year warranty if the manufacturer really wanted to make a statement! These warranties also very much took the form of a no-questions-asked policy.
Today’s Tool Warranties
Things work a little differently now. Despite our company growing to over 10 times what it was back then, our repair staff is down to 2 or 3. This is basically because manufacturers and consumers have accepted that tools have become much more disposable.
Once that multi-year warranty expires, most folks pretty much just buy a new tool.
When it comes to warranty service, our company remains one of the few dwindling “factory authorized service centers” for many of the pro brands. For guys used to the no-questions-asked policy on tool repair, the much longer warranty periods look to be very attractive. But what exactly qualifies a tool as “covered”.
#1 Thing Not Covered by Warranty: Drowned Tools
This fine Milwaukee Drill (see the images below) is still within the warranty period. Check out the brushes. They still plenty of life left on them, right? So what’s the problem?
The problem is this tool was left outdoors. In the rain.
For a month. Not cool.
If you leave your tools out in the rain for an extended period of time, don’t expect to claim warranty service. Chances are the dealer won’t honor the warranty or waste the manufacturer’s time sending it in only to be denied.
#2 Thing Not Covered by Warranty: Physically Abused Tools
If you took your wife’s 2012 Chevy Malibu down to compete in the local demolition derby and then had it towed back to the dealer after a victorious afternoon of smashing the competition, what do you think the odds are he’s going to warranty it under the 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty?
You will probably get the same results if you try and submit abused power tools to the local repair shop or dealer. They’re more than happy to try and fix your tool. However, it’s not something the dealer could send up the chain to the manufacturer to claim under a warranty.
#3 Thing Not Covered by Warranty: Tools Not Properly Maintained
Tools, like cars, have parts that need to be replaced after a little use. These don’t fall under any typical tool warranty. Just like oil filters and the brake pads on your vehicles, motor brushes and air seals don’t get warranty coverage. This also applies to items that might see damage from misuse. That includes damaged power cords or any kind of water damage (see above).
Another thing to keep in mind, however, deals with tool maintenance. If you fail to maintain your tools you can see your warranty service denied. If, for example, you need to keep a tool lubricated and do not. Or you fail to change the engine oil as instructed on your zero turn mower—you could forfeit your right to free warranty service.
Maintenance matters, and following the recommended maintenance schedule assures the manufacturer that the fault lies with the equipment and not you.
To Warranty or Not to Warranty
Want some good news? We see no harm in trying to get that warranty to extend to the drill you just dropped off the roof. In fact, many Authorized Service Centers typically try and get tools covered under warranty whenever possible. Just don’t shoot the messenger if they deny coverage! We’re also seeing a trend in the last few years of folks actually going back to wanting to repair their own tools.
Almost all manufacturers of professional power tools have now made their schematics available for download on their websites. With a wide range of online tool part stores popping up. it’s easier than ever to find what you need. We hope that this trend brings back a little more appreciation for quality tools. Hopefully, it also allows everyone to take a little more pride in that, if it breaks, you can fix it!
Still, being in the repair business lets me see my share of the ridiculous, the amazing, and even the impossible. My goal is to share all that with you. Hopefully, it will be entertaining and informative.