CARS.COM — General Motors plans to offer a prepaid debit card or an extended warranty to compensate some 135,000 owners and lessees of 2016 SUVs with overstated mileage stickers.
Related: Why GM’s SUV Mileage Dropped
The automaker last Friday retroactively downgraded EPA-estimated gas mileage for the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave because an updated catalytic converter for all three models had required new emissions tests — and thus, fuel economy estimates. The results dropped the SUVs’ combined mileage 1 to 2 mpg, depending on the model.
If you own a 2016 Enclave, Acadia or Traverse, here’s what you need to know.
What’s the Compensation?
GM said owners can choose between a prepaid debit card or an extended warranty. Amounts on the debit card vary, but most owners will get anywhere from $450 to $1,500, depending on the vehicle.
Where Did GM Get Those Amounts?
The automaker says it based the compensation on the difference in fuel costs over the course of five years, assuming 15,000 annual miles and $3 per gallon.
The EPA calculates a comparison between any particular car and an “average” car rated at 25 mpg, and it’s expressed on window stickers next to the EPA ratings in a line that says, for example, “You spend $2,750 more in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle.”
GM compared that fuel-cost number between the old window sticker and the new one. For example, an all-wheel-drive 2016 Enclave would cost $3,500 more than the average new vehicle (remember, a 25-mpg car) over the course of five years’ ownership with its 18-mpg EPA combined rating before last Friday. With the revised rating — now 17 mpg — the Enclave would cost $4,250 more than the average vehicle.
The difference is $750, so GM would issue that owner a debit card for the same amount, spokesman Jim Cain told us.
What if I Lease My Car?
Lessees only are eligible for a debit card, which calculates the difference in fuel costs over the terms of the lease. If you have a short, low-mileage lease, then the card may have less than $450, Cain said.
What About The Warranty Option?
As an alternative to the debit cards, you can choose an extension to the vehicle’s bumper-to-bumper warranty. Designed for higher-mileage customers, this option extends your SUV’s factory bumper-to-bumper warranty from three years or 36,000 miles to four-years or 60,000 miles.
If I Choose the Debit Card, When Will I Get It?
“You’ll get a letter from us directing you to a website where you can put a PIN,” Cain said. “That generates the mailing of the card to you.”
GM will send the letters via FedEx beginning May 25. Cain didn’t know what the website address would be, but he promised it would be in the letter.
What If That Letter Goes to an Old Address? Will Someone Else Get My Debit Card?
First off, you should always keep your vehicle registration up-to-date with your current address; visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to see how. If the letter goes to an old address, remember that it doesn’t actually contain the debit card — only the instructions on how to sign up for it. Cain promised a robust authentication process so a stranger can’t get your debit card, though he didn’t specify exactly how the process will work.