When purchasing a vehicle, dealerships usually offer an extended warranty. While an extended warranty may not be necessary when buying a new vehicle, they usually come in handy if you buy a used vehicle. When determining if you need an extended warranty, keep a few easy-to-remember factors in mind, including the benefits of an extended warranty, the costs of the warranty, how long the warranty lasts, and what the specific warranty offers.
What an extended warranty does
An extended warranty is a service plan that provides repair coverage after the manufacturer's bumper-to-bumper coverage expires. Hopefully, you will never need to use it, but it provides peace of mind in case you do need it. In the long run, an extended warranty can pay for itself, saving you on repair costs and making sure that you can keep your vehicle on the road.
Types of automotive extended warranties. When purchasing an extended warranty for your vehicle, you can choose from a few types.
While typically reserved for newer cars up to five years old and under 50,000 miles, a bumper-to-bumper warranty represents the highest level of warranty available. Most bumper-to-bumper warranties cover most vehicle parts and tend to list the parts that are not covered. This warranty is considered the most extensive coverage you can buy, but make sure that you read the warranty completely to see what is not covered before purchasing it.
The next step down is called stated component coverage. This warranty type covers the most important parts and components on your vehicle, but not all. This type of extended warranty is good for vehicles that have between 50,000 and 100,000 miles. Since stated coverage can vary, according to the specific extended warranty, it is important you know exactly what is covered before purchasing this type of warranty.
Powertrain coverage covers the powertrain of the vehicle, including the engine, transmission, and drive axles. In addition to a normal powertrain warranty, some dealers offer what are known as enhanced or plus policies. These policies, in addition to the normal powertrain components, cover a few additional parts, such as the starter or air conditioner. Powertrain warranties are meant for use with high- or mid-mileage vehicles.
The pros and cons of an extended warranty
Like many coverage plans, an extended warranty has both pros and cons. Before you purchase an extended warranty for your vehicle, you should consider both the pros and the cons to make sure the cost is worth it.
Pros of an extended warranty. An extended warranty on your vehicle offers a variety of benefits that can help keep your vehicle running and on the road.
Most often, you can tailor the extended warranty to suit your needs. One example is the inclusion of 24-hour roadside assistance in the extended warranty, which might be something the original warranty from the manufacturer does not offer.
Extended warranties provide the main benefit of paying for costly repairs of vehicle components. When purchasing an extended warranty, make sure it covers any newer technologies a vehicle might have.
Another benefit of purchasing an extended warranty is that most of the paperwork is taken care of by the dealership. Also, you can include the cost of the extended warranty as part of your new or used vehicle purchase. This means that once you pay for the warranty, all you have to do is show it to a mechanic if there is a problem with the vehicle it covers.
Cons of an extended warranty. In addition to the many good benefits that an extended warranty provides, there are a few drawbacks.
The biggest con of an extended warranty is the cost. With that in mind, consider the alternative to not having an extended warranty in the form of a potential high repair bill if your vehicle breaks down.
Just as an extended warranty can cover many different parts and components on your vehicle, it does not cover everything. Before purchasing an extended warranty, make sure to read it thoroughly and agree with everything it does and doesn't cover, including looking at the exclusion list that documents the parts that are not covered.
Another drawback to an extended warranty is that you may have only a limited number of approved facilities where repairs can be performed. This might become an issue if you break down while on a trip or move. Make sure you understand who is allowed to repair your vehicle when purchasing an extended warranty.
What to look for in an extended warranty
Once you have decided to purchase an extended warranty, you need to decide which one works best for your vehicle. Some deciding factors that you have no control over when purchasing an extended warranty include the vehicle's age and miles. Otherwise, you do have some options when shopping, including who you buy the warranty from, price, and coverage.
Who offers extended warranties? In addition to manufacturer warranties, many dealerships offer third-party warranties from a variety of companies.
Read the fineprint of the warranty to make sure it is valid at more than just the dealership you bought it from. A manufacturer-backed extended warranty can be used at any of the manufacturer's dealerships across the country.
Is the cost of the warranty affordable? When purchasing an extended warranty, make sure the price is right for your budget.
Before traveling to a dealership, shop around for extended warranties that fit within your budget. Shopping around also lets you get a more accurate picture of what an extended warranty should cost you.
A final option is to wait to get the extended warranty until after you have purchased the vehicle.
What is covered by the extended warranty? As stated in the sections above, make sure you know exactly what the extended warranty you plan on purchasing covers.
You should also keep in mind that many extended warranties come in tiers, usually designated as silver, gold, and platinum, or something similar. Each tier has its own price, covers an increased amount of components, or offers different options the higher you get. Make sure to read the fineprint of each tier and then purchase the one that best fits your needs and budget.
A final consideration when purchasing an extended warranty is if the repairs are fully covered or not. Determine if there is a deductible and how much it is. Also, another thing you should know is if the repairs are paid for by the company that issued the warranty or if you must pay up front and then get reimbursed.
You also need to be aware of what can void the extended warranty or if there are certain protocols you have to follow when using the warranty.
Do you feel the extended warranty is necessary? Once you have looked at what extended warranties are available, determined their costs, and decided on which is the right one for your vehicle, you must decide whether to get the extended warranty or not.
The biggest factor that determines whether you need an extended warranty is the reliability of the vehicle you want to purchase the warranty for.
Another consideration is your own repair history with vehicles. If the vehicles you have driven in the past tended to have components break down that are covered by an extended warranty, then a warranty might represent a good investment.
When it comes to extended warranties, ultimately the choice to purchase one is your decision. You should take your budget, the age of the car, and the likelihood that you will use the warranty into consideration when making your final decision.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Do You Need an Extended Warranty? and was authored by Cheryl Knight.