TOOL WARRANTIES – WHAT CAN BE REASONABLY EXPECTED
Covering manufacturers and owners guidelines regarding general care and servicing, we strongly advice every owner of all new electric, cordless, petrol and diesel tools and machinery to spend a few minutes reading the following article. Please then scroll down to the section that applies to your particular product.
All tools legally have to come with a warranty. Warranty periods vary from between 12 months and 5 Years depending on the manufacturer and product. Under modern legislation, it is fair to say that warranty periods are not quite as ‘set in stone’ as they once were. If, for instance, you purchased an electric, cordless, petrol or diesel tool or machine that didn’t get a great deal of use, and still presented as relatively new, if it did then fail during what would reasonably be expected of it in terms of longevity, you may still have a reasonable claim against the manufacturer for a repair under warranty, even if the stated warranty period had expired. Conversely, if you had purchased a tool and had used it at a level above and beyond the operating time that it was reasonably expected to last, then any warranty claim may well be void due to it having already accomplished what was reasonably expected of it due to ‘fair wear and tear’.
Warranties are really all about fairness between the manufacturer and the purchaser. In Australia, an importer of a product is also seen as the manufacturer for warranty purposes. If a power tool, for instance, purchased for $60 and then worked excessively over a 6 month period until it failed then, to be fair, and even though the product may well have come with a 12 month warranty, the purchaser may have genuinely had his or her $60 worth of value and it could therefore be deemed unreasonable to expect the manufacturer to offer a replacement or repair. However, if someone purchased an industrial power tool which eventually failed outside of the warranty period due to an inherent manufacturing fault, then it would correctly be considered unreasonable for the manufacturer not to repair it under warranty.
It is also generally accepted that a manufacturing fault, which ultimately causes a product to fail earlier than reasonably expected, is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty obligations for a period up to 7 years from the date of original purchase. Basically, if any product was incorrectly designed, or had faulty componentry or assembly that caused it to fail, regardless of its length of manufacturer’s warranty, a customer in Australia has a certain right to expect it to be fixed free under warranty for a period of up to 7 years from when it was purchased. As always it comes back to what is considered ‘reasonable’.
One overall guarantee that we can always give however is that ALL tools must be expected to eventually break or fail due to age or use; that’s just a simple and indisputable fact of life! With these points in mind we would therefore again ask you to please take a few short minutes to read below what is reasonably expected, by all parties, surrounding warranty obligations.
ELECTRIC TOOL WARRANTIES:
Everyone seems to have a story about their grandfather’s 4” Makita angle grinder that was used ‘every single day’ and ‘lasted 20 years at least’! In the tool industry we hear these types of statements all of the time and, in most cases, the statements are genuinely believed to be true by most of those that make them. In reality however, and aside from the odd ‘freak’ tool, the facts are actually quite different. All tools will eventually wear out, regardless of what brand or price point they fit into, and even the most expensive are actually unlikely to last for ‘years of everyday use’. A few do, but most don’t, just ask any experienced tradesman! What a lot of people do not however fully realise is that most tools are designed to last for a minimum specified use period only, and that any addition to that period is to seen for exactly what it is, an unexpected bonus over and beyond its original intended life span.
All hand held electric power tools sold in Australia are required to be rigorously tested by an independent testing authority after which, if they pass, are allocated a specific approval number which is clearly seen on required labelling attached to almost each and every tool. The testing process includes finding out actually how long each tool will generally last under normal operating conditions, and it might surprise many to know that an electric tool is considered to be of industrial quality if it is shown that it can run intermittently for between 60 and 150 hours before totally wearing out.To put this in perspective, there are tools being sold into the DIY market that, although tested and approved, are shown to barely last more than 10 hours of continuous use but, to be fair, that could well sometimes represent 20 years of infrequent home only use. However, an industrial user may well use a power tool every working day for an hour or more, thus representing a possible 300 hours of use in a single year. So, if that tool ceased to work during its stated warranty period, and regardless of how long that stated warranty period was, most manufacturers would be well within their rights to refuse warranty on the basis of failure due to ‘fair wear and tear’! Industrial warranty periods are usually specified to cover anything from between one to three years from the time of purchase. You will often also see a statement on DIY quality tools that warranty is either suspended or substantially reduced if that tool has been obviously subjected to industrial use. This is obviously done for the reasons stated earlier as the manufacturer is usually all too well aware of just how long a DIY tool will not last in the hands of a regular trade user. Neither should we ever forget just how much hard manual labour say a typical 4” industrial angle grinder will save the user, often costing less in real terms than one dollar every hour it works, making that users life so very much easier and more productive as a consequence.
We are also sometimes surprised when we are, on occasion, handed back an industrial electric jackhammer, for instance, with an owner saying “it is only 2 years old, therefore why has it stopped?” To again put this into perspective, one of the world’s best known and most reliable industrial electric jackhammers has been tested to destruction during its approval process and managed 140 hours of intermittent use before a major failure occurred. Basically, at 140 hours, it was all but worn out, but let’s not forget just what it had been doing in that it had been breaking concrete for a period of three and a half working weeks without fault, apart from occasional cleaning and servicing. If the tasks that it had completed were attempted to have been done with a simple pick axe by hand then the costs, by comparison, would have proved astronomical. If the cost of that electric jackhammer was say $1000, and it did a full 140 hours of hard industrial work, then at a cost of around just $7 each hour used, that machine has more than paid for itself many times over. This is a fact that all genuine industrial users of power tools well understand but, with respect, maybe need reminding of from time to time! So, next time you buy any industrial electric power tool expecting it to last for 500 hours of actual use, please remember that none of the major industrial brands were designed, or priced, to last anything like that long, with between 80 and 150 hours longevity the reasonably expected norm.
Over 40% of all new hand held tools are now lithium ion battery powered cordless tools, so this is an area that many warranty questions are often asked of us. For a start, a cordless tool will generally never last as long as an equivalent electric tool; it’s a bit like comparing a battery powered torch to an electric light. Cordless tool batteries were never designed to last ‘forever’ and even the most recent lithium ion powered cordless batteries will only accept a certain number of charges before losing their efficiency and ability to charge. As a general rule of thumb, we at Austools Direct generally tell customers to never expect any cordless battery to accept more than 1000 charges over its usable life, in fact many become unusable long before this amount and if you do get anywhere near 1000 charges, consider yourself reasonably lucky! So, a builder who generally looks after his tools, and is charging and using a cordless tool every working day, as so many do, could reasonably expect his tool to last a maximum of 3 years with average use, after which it would be fair to expect it to need replacing. If that cordless tool kit originally cost around $400, that would equate to less than 40 cents per working day, surely a bargain by anyone’s fair measure!
Cordless tools have made the work of many tradespeople a whole lot easier and the price for this convenience , as explained, can be measured in just cents per day. This is worth bearing in mind when you are purchasing any cordless tool and lends weight to the argument that expensive and highly featured cordless tools are often easily worth all that they cost as they can make so many important jobs faster and easier to attempt and complete. Many older style cordless tools had batteries that were powered by nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydroxide cordless batteries. One main fault with these designs was that these batteries had a form of ‘memory’ in that they could not be regularly recharged unless their power was fully used up, otherwise they would soon only accept a partial charge. The latest generation lithium ion cordless tools are different in that they do not have a ‘memory’ so the operator can basically charge them whenever he or she finds it convenient, without having to bother about any battery memory causing permanent charging ability damage.
Expected battery life is a common query raised by cordless customers. As batteries will always slowly deteriorate, regardless of whether they are being used or not, is the main reason that some cordless manufacturers offer differing warranty periods covering their tools and batteries. Keeping proper purchase receipts here is absolutely vital especially where long warranties of anything up to 5 years are in place. Quite simply, and particularly concerning expensive cordless products, it is absolutely vital that you keep your proof of purchase if you ever wish to claim warranty should a fault ever occur. Furthermore, it is only reasonable for a particular store to ask for proof that you have purchased any product, for which warranty is being claimed, from that store. There is often a fair amount of paperwork and freight involved in processing a warranty and it is unreasonable to expect any company to handle your warranty problems for free if you had originally purchased that product elsewhere. However, some companies like Austools Direct, are specialised appointed warranty agents and are happy, in many instances, to accept warranties on products that we sell but were purchased elsewhere, depending on the particular manufacturer and from It should also be noted, and particularly with power and cordless products purchased from overseas, that Australian warranty agents are not allowed to conduct any work on them under warranty. This is due to them not originally being allowed to have been legally sold within Australia, as they have not specifically passed our required nation approval processes, without which they are ineligible for sale or use here. Quite simply, if you buy a power tool that lacks an Australian approval number, in almost all cases you can’t legally use it or ever expect to get it fixed under warranty here.
PETROL AND DIESEL POWERED TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT:
This is where ALL suppliers and users of petrol powered products occasionally run into trouble and we therefore urge ALL customers of petrol powered products to study and read this section! Firstly, ALL petrol powered tool products will ALWAYS require regular ongoing maintenance, sometimes even when they are not being used! Modern fuels quickly become stale, for instance, and can render many modern petrol engines unusable if left in the fuel tank for months on end. These stale fuels should therefore be regularly changed. Some industrial contractors, it seems, unfortunately do not take seriously enough the need to regularly perform preventive maintenance on their petrol powered equipment and, all too often, we are asked to perform ‘urgent repairs’ on machines that have not been maintained at anything like the required minimum level. As we often say at Austools Direct “tools usually only ever break down when you’re using them” a sentiment all too often lost on trade customers whose current job has come to a ‘screeching halt’ due to one of their machines breaking down! Once again, all too often, this is due to an obvious lack of preventive maintenance and required servicing, thus virtually guaranteeing that any petrol powered product will fail during use. Any qualified mechanical fitter will most likely tell you that the majority of all mechanical breakdowns are mainly due to incorrect or infrequent maintenance procedures; it is this obvious neglect that happily keeps them in business! Once again, we hear about petrol machines that have lasted ’20 years without so much as a spanner touching them!’ Of course, these people tend to forget that if they bought a new Mercedes Benz and didn’t bother servicing it, then it would most likely break down and, understandably, not be covered by any dealer warranty. However, we have found that when people shell out huge sums on luxury cars, they rarely ‘forget’ to service them, otherwise they seem to inherently know it proves to be a very expensive mistake. Much the same is true about petrol powered tools of course and regular maintenance will always save potentially hundreds of dollars in otherwise unnecessary repairs! Please also remember that a qualified mechanical fitter, whether working on your Mercedes or your petrol generator, may well charge similar hourly rates for his time and expertise as well!
The other main problems tool stores encounter with petrol and diesel powered products is concerning the actual length of running time a particular engine is supposed to last? A few facts on this make interesting reading, not least of which is the occasional claim by a few of the major manufacturers that their particular petrol engines may last “up to 1000 hours given proper servicing”. That represents 20 hours weekly for one single year, not long if you are running a generator as a sole source of power for instance, during which time you would probably had to have performed a thorough service at least 10 separate times!
To be fair, we reckon that a medium quality stationary petrol engine used in the building trade, and regularly serviced, should handle 500 hours of regular intermittent use before you would need to think of buying a new replacement. That represents 10 hours every week for a year, and we would advise you to be highly suspicious of any supplier that would promise you a great deal more from a petrol engine used in the building trade, regardless of its particular make or reputation. For instance, one of the world’s most highly respected diesel engine manufacturers claims that its medium duty stationery engines should last close to 500 hours, with up to 1400 hours expected from its heavy industrial series units.
All this is well worth bearing in mind if you are buying a generator or petrol powered pressure cleaner, for instance, especially if either machine is being regularly used in an industrial application such as the building trade. Diesel engines generally last considerably longer, although they are usually heavier and need more specialised regular maintenance. For these reasons alone they are generally much more expensive to purchase, plus they are generally much more expensive to repair, especially if they have not been the subject of proper regular maintenance, particularly frequent specified oil changes. If, for instance, you are paying $598 for a petrol powered pressure cleaner, and it lasts for 10 hours every week for a whole year, then that equates to just $1.20 per hour in general wear and tear. That makes it a very economical product to own and use as long as you service it correctly! You can, of course, elect to pay a great deal more for a machine, particularly a diesel machine, that may well last considerably longer, but we doubt if it will give you value approaching $1.20 per hour, and if you neglect it’s servicing as well, it will almost definitely break down just as quickly.
Of course, you may say that certain car and motorcycle engines last substantially longer than say 500 hours of intermittent use, and you’d mainly be right of course. However, you are paying many multiples more for such engines, plus they are designed from the start to be used in a way substantially different from the average use expected of most engines used in tool products. All brush cutter manufacturers for instance, could probably quite easily develop a machine that would last for the equivalent of 100,000 kilometres, but it would probably weigh 50 kilos, have to sell for $2000, and is doubtful whether anyone would ever want to buy one! So, when you decide to buy any petrol or diesel powered product, whether it be from us or anyone else for that matter, decide at the very same time to service it properly and regularly, otherwise the only guarantee that should truly come with the product is its right to break down just when you need it the most! As an old wise saying goes, ‘lack of preparing is preparing to fail’!
WE WILL ALWAYS TRY OUR BEST FOR OUR CUSTOMER REGARDING ANY WARRANTY!
Most of us here at Austools Direct are well versed in the requirements concerning warranties which cover all of the products that we sell. There is never anything to be gained by us ‘upsetting customers’ over warranty issues and, more often than not, most warranties go through without any hassles at all. However, we obviously do get the odd ‘curly one’ but, rest assured, and especially if our customer is fair and reasonable, we will always try and solve any warranty problem so as everyone is happy with the end result.
One thing we will not do is deal with any manufacturer or importer who is known to be difficult or obstructive concerning warranty claims as we well know that even the best supplier has been known to occasionally have tools fail under warranty. Most of our suppliers have signed a specific warranty agreement that confirms that they will always be fair and reasonable should any warranty problems ever occur. We know by experience also that many warranty claims are genuine and all that we ask is that if you do ever have a warranty claim against anything that we have sold you, please tell us the correct circumstances surrounding the breakdown so as we know exactly where to look before we start work. After all, excessive bearing wear, lack of correct lubrication, incorrect fuel mix, lack of proper servicing, water damage etc are all quite obvious on inspection by an experienced fitter. We at Austools Direct must say that considering the huge volume of tools that we sell, and knowing full well in what types of conditions many of them end up being used, it is always heartening to us that we don’t actually see substantially more of them breaking down than we do!
Thank you for taking the time to read this important information!
We always endeavour to be as quick & efficient as possible when handling warranty claims. We understand that our reputation is at stake in such circumstances & we are proud of our reputation so far earned in this regard.
– Austools Direct Management