By Tim Esterdahl
By design, pickup truck bedliners take a beating. And since every truck owner knows this, bedliner manufacturers market their products by talking about how "tough" or "resilient" their bedliners are. Considering this marketing, and considering the tough use that all bedliners face, one might assume bedliner manufacturers offer similar comprehensive warranties. That is not the case.
After taking a close look at the warranties of four major bedliner brands — and reviewing the specific language of each warranty with an attorney — we've learned that some popular bedliner warranties don't live up to expectations set by their marketing materials.
While there are many manufacturers of bedliners, for this story we looked at the warranties for some of the more popular optons; spray-in, drop-in, and hybrid bedliners. We focused on Line-X, Rhino Linings, Duraliner/Pendaliner and DualLiner because they are available throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Exclusions for Commercial Use
After obtaining and reviewing a copy of the product warranties from each manufacturer, we learned that Line-X, Rhino Linings and Duraliner/Pendaliner do not warranty their products for commercial users (DualLiner does). This was a little surprising as these companies go to great lengths to advertise the durability of their products.
Since warranties are legal documents, we asked Arizona attorney D. Jeffrey Craven for some insight as to why commercial use might not be covered. Craven is a construction and commercial litigation attorney and has been practicing law for 20 years. He has litigated warranty claims under common law and express and implied warranties under the Uniform Commercial Code.
"Since these tend to be 'lifetime' warranties, they're written based upon an expected level of use," Craven said. "If a contracting company that had a fleet of trucks received warranty coverage for all their bedliners, they could end up making multiple warranty claims during the life of each of the vehicles in its fleet."
How about farmers and ranchers? Would they be entitled to warranty coverage? "That's hard to know. If the farmer is operating a small family ranch or farm, and the truck and bedliner were both purchased in the individual's name, more likely than not the manufacturer warranties would apply. If the farmer runs a large commercial enterprise that is owned by a corporation or limited liability company, it would likely be deemed 'commercial,' " Craven said.
Open to Interpretation
Cars.com image, Mark Williams
All the warranties we reviewed contained vague language, either in regard to coverage or in regard to limiting liability. Here are a couple of examples:
- The Pendaliner/Duraliner warranty stated that it would warranty its product when used in "normal operating conditions."
- The Rhino Linings warranty excludes coverage for "misuse."
While these terms might seem like normal "legalese" to some, a precise understanding of "misuse" or "normal operating conditions" is impossible since everyone has their own definition.
"My suspicion is that these terms were intentionally left vague in an effort to afford the manufacturer some discretion," Craven said. Does this mean that Rhino Linings or Pendaliner/Duraliner retailers would refuse a specific warranty claim? Not exactly. As franchisees, in many cases retailers are given quite a bit of latitude as to how to handle specific claims. No one can know 100 percent for sure.
It should be noted that both Line-X and Rhino require bedliner owners to return to their installer with any warranty claims (in the case of Line-X, only if the original installer is within 100 miles of the buyer's location). As noted, these individual installers seem to have the power to determine if your warranty claim is valid or not. With hundreds of installers across the U.S. and Canada, odds are good that each installer's definition of "misuse" — or "commercial use" — will vary.
Limited to Original Purchaser
In addition to commercial exclusions and vague language, the warranties from Line-X, Rhino Linings and Pendaliner/Duraliner are not transferrable, meaning that they are only available to the original purchaser.
On one hand, it makes sense for a company to limit its warranty to the actual person who bought the product. On the other hand, if the bedliners really do last for a "lifetime," what's the logic behind limiting coverage to the original buyer only? Shouldn't a product as durable and tough as a bedliner be warrantied regardless of ownership?
Warranty Comparison Results
All of the bedliner manufacturers we reviewed market their products as strong, tough, indestructible, etc. Yet most of these companies limit their warranty coverage in some specific ways. After reviewing each warranty in detail, we prepared a simple chart pickup owners can use to evaluate each product.
Additionally, here are the links to the warranty policies for Rhino Linings, DualLiner and Pendaliner/Duraliner. We also obtained a copy of a Line-X warranty policy from a local installer; upload it here.
Finding the Bottom Line
Be aware of inconsistencies. The marketing language used by three of the four bedliner manufacturers we reviewed doesn't seem to match their warranty policies. If their products really are as tough as they say, it seems to us their warranties should be better. However, we can imagine some cases where it would be understandable why one wouldn't warranty a product for commercial use and/or offer it as a transferable warranty considering Craven's explanation of the legal ramifications.
Our research indicates that DualLiner has the best warranty since it has the least number of exclusions, and the company states it will cover commercial use along with the option to transfer the warranty to a new owner. Note: We aren't saying that one bedliner is better than the others; we are saying that DualLiner seems to offer the best warranty.