One of the most comprehensive new-car warranty programs was announced this model-year when Chrysler Motors introduced its all-new Chrysler New Yorker and New Yorker Landau luxury sedans. Called Chrysler's Crystal Key Owner Care Program, the model-specific warranty covers both vehicles for five years or 50,000 miles, excluding fluids, wear items, and normal maintenance. Tires are covered separately by the tire manufacturer.

The Crystal Key program for the New Yorker and New Yorker Landau is in addition to Chrysler's 7/70 powertrain warranty and its 7-year/ 100,000-mile protection against corrosion perforation on outer body panels. Only the vehicle's first owner is eligible to take advantage of the Crystal Key program, and the warranty coverage is not transferable. The warranty protection is available to both fleet owners and retail customers.

"Fleet owners get equal treatment with retail customers when it comes to Chrysler warranty protection," says Hal Barton, general manager-fleet operations, at Chrysler Motors. "And the Crystal Key warranty on New Yorker and Landau protects every component of the car - drive-train, air conditioning, stereo, as well as rust-through protection for all body panels. There's even a toll-free number for questions or information 24 hours a day. It's probably the best standard warranty available to the fleet owner."

Essentially, the Crystal Key program expands the basic 12-month/ 12,000-mile new-car coverage on all components to five years or 50,000 miles. Included within Crystal Key is a non-transferable five-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty with no deductible. In addition, New Yorker and New Yorker Landau owners are simultaneously protected under the 7/70 powertrain warranty. The 7/70 carries a $100 deductible and is transferable to a second owner for a $100 fee.

"When the 5/50 powertrain warranty expires, the owner still has the balance of the 7/70 powertrain warranty protection," says a Chrysler Motors spokesman.

In addition to the standard 7-year/ 100,000-mile protection against corrosion perforation on outer body panels, the Crystal Key program also offers 5/50 corrosion protection for all car panels. As with the powertrain coverage, the 5/50 corrosion protection is only available to the first owner. If the car is sold within the first three years of ownership, there is a three-year corrosion warranty for all car panels that is transferable to a second owner.

The Crystal Key program premiered in September 1987, with the introduction of the New Yorker and New Yorker Landau. The program itself was approved by Chrysler's management one month earlier. The Crystal Key program evolved from consumer research Chrysler conducted while formulating its marketing plan for the New Yorker and New Yorker Landau. "We did a lot of research to determine what luxury car owners were looking for," says Mike Howe, national advertising manager for the Chrysler brand. One item the consumer research elicited was that luxury car customers wanted a vehicle that was trouble-free, whereby they didn't have to worry about service and repairs. "We looked at a number of programs to satisfy this need and ultimately decided on the Crystal Key Owner Care Program," says Howe.

"Every luxury car owner wants it all," says Lee Iacocca, Chrysler Corp.'s chairman of the board. "Everything. That's what you get with Chrysler's new Crystal Key Owner Care Program. For five years or 50,000 miles, all you do is put in the gas and do the normal upkeep. Chrysler takes care of everything else: engine, powertrain, air conditioning, steering, electrical. Everything right down to the door handles."

So what's the future for the Crystal Key program?

"We're looking at this program as a building block," says Howe. "We're experimenting with it and hopefully will keep improving on it. We see Crystal Key as a big differentiator. The company that provides the best customer care will probably rise to the top," he adds.