What Is an Extended Warranty?
Most extended warranties (and other similar contracts) are agreements to cover auto repairs after factory warranties have expired. The items that they include vary from plan to plan, but they don’t typically cover wear-and-tear or routine maintenance items such as brake pads, tires, air cleaners, or oil changes.
Some plans include extras, like towing, roadside assistance, or trip interruption protection. In some cases, you’ll have to pay a deductible before the plan kicks in, while others will pay every dollar of repair costs. They typically will cover your vehicle for a set number of years, miles, or both.
Some car warranty providers offer “wrap” policies. Many vehicles come with powertrain warranties that are longer than the car’s bumper-to-bumper warranties. A wrap policy provides extended coverage to repair anything other than the vehicle’s powertrain.
In the end, buying an extended warranty is a gamble. You may pay a couple thousand dollars for a plan you never use, or you could have one major component failure that would have cost you far more than the warranty you purchased.
Do I Need an Extended Warranty?
The first questions you need to ask yourself have nothing to do with the vehicle that you are buying. Are you someone who will have trouble sleeping the day after your car’s warranty expires, thinking about the expenses you might be facing? If you say yes, you might want to consider a warranty for peace of mind.
Do you have the discipline to put a couple thousand dollars aside as part of your emergency fund to pay for unexpected repairs? If the answer is yes, you can probably skip the extended warranty. Do you put so much mileage on your car each year that you will quickly blow through the manufacturer warranty? If that’s the case, you might consider an extended warranty.
Will costly car repairs bust your monthly budget, making it hard to pay for essentials such as rent, food, or utilities? Answer yes, and you might want to consider either a warranty or, if you are a disciplined enough saver, the creation of an untouchable fund that’s set aside for unexpected events.
How Do Extended Warranties Work With Used Cars?
When you’re considering an extended warranty on a used car, you have many resources that can help you make an informed decision. If you’re looking at a car that isn’t reliable in the long run, getting an extended warranty may save you money.
Our used car rankings and reviews use data from the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study or their Predicted Reliability rating to show which vehicles are likely to be more expensive to own as they age.
You can also look at user forums and reviews online. While they tend to be places where disgruntled owners go to vent, they are also a good place to note trends. If everyone is talking about transmission failures at 60,000 miles, for example, there’s probably a design or manufacturing defect.
You can also get a lot of information about a used car’s future reliability from a pre-purchase inspection by an independent mechanic. They’ll note the problems that the vehicle currently has, as well as issues that they think will cost you money down the road.
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A written, guaranteed Worry-Free Nationwide Warranty is Included FREE with every qualifying repair. Covers up to the original invoice amount of parts, labor, & diagnostic time. Backed by a nationwide network of top-quality repair centers. As an additional benefit, all repairs come with complimentary, reimbursable roadside assistance.