Every car buyer looks for reliability in a vehicle purchase, but even the most reliable and well-built vehicles can suffer unpredictable damage from accidents and wear-and-tear. While most new car purchases typically include some type of warranty coverage, used cars generally do not unless a seller or dealership(like us) offers some type of promotion. Many cars will not qualify for warranty coverage, but if a used car seller offers extended warranty protection on a used vehicle, it may be worth considering.
Warranty Options For Used Vehicles
Most used vehicle purchases will not offer any kind of warranty except perhaps a free year or two of oil changes and inspections, but that does not mean warranties are completely unavailable for used vehicle purchases. Some insurance carriers offer extended warranties (also commonly called vehicle service contracts) for used vehicles, but these carriers generally restrict which vehicles qualify for warranty coverage. While it may save money to buy a used vehicle that’s ten or more years old, an insurance carrier may be unwilling to offer warranty coverage for an older vehicle more prone to maintenance issues.
What Is An Extended Warranty?
The majority of new vehicle purchases include “bumper to bumper” warranty coverage that generally applies to any mechanical failures a new vehicle might experience. However, most new vehicles rarely encounter mechanical issues unless there are recalls associated with them; vehicle manufacturers are generally quick to identify and address defects, and a recall on your vehicle generally means a free replacement or repair to fix the issue. The warranty coverage on most new cars rarely sees use as these vehicles generally fare well throughout the course of the coverage time frame with careful driving and appropriate regular maintenance. However, bumper-to-bumper coverage ensures that any mechanical issue in a new vehicle has coverage.
An extended warranty by comparison is somewhat limited; companies that offer service contracts or extended warranties on used vehicles generally stipulate the type of mechanical issues the warranty covers. For example, if your used vehicle has a transmission failure or the air conditioner breaks down, the extended warranty will likely cover it. However, an extended warranty will likely not apply to cosmetic damage, interior wear-and-tear or other specific issues stipulated by the warranty provider.
What Does An Extended Warranty Cover?
Most extended warranties cover minor mechanical failures and regular maintenance.
- Oil changes are a necessity for virtually every vehicle. If an extended warranty offers oil changes during the warranty period, the car owner should make sure to follow the oil change instructions for the vehicle per the warranty terms. One missed oil change will probably not void an extended warranty, but repeat missed oil changes likely will.
- Filter changes are also a regular maintenance issue for most vehicles. Clogged filters can negatively impact the vehicle’s engine and transmission performance, interfere with proper airflow, and cause serious breakdowns. Just like with oil changes, if you purchase an extended warranty, make sure to follow the filter maintenance schedule for your vehicle to avoid voiding your warranty coverage.
- Inspections may also qualify for warranty coverage. These inspections are a standard part of any vehicle maintenance schedule and extended warranty agreements often include them.
- Driver care is also an essential part of maintaining warranty coverage. For example, a vehicle may require a specific octane fuel, and using the wrong octane can cause serious damage to the engine. Drivers should carefully follow warranty instructions and ensure they use the right type of fuel in their vehicles.
Other types of repairs, like brake failure, air conditioning breakdown, tire replacement, and other issues may or may not qualify for extended warranty protection. These determinations typically fall to the warranty provider’s available options and the car’s eligibility based on model, age, and mileage.
Qualifying For Extended Warranty Protection
Most companies that offer extended warranties on used vehicle purchases stipulate which vehicles qualify for coverage. For example, a warranty provider may not offer protection on a vehicle that is more than ten years old or one that has more than 100,000 miles on it. It’s possible a used car may not qualify for extended warranty coverage at all, and the buyer assumes the risk of paying out-of-pocket for repairs. If a used vehicle does not qualify for warranty coverage, the buyer should ensure that he or she can handle the potential cost of maintenance and repairs.
Do You Need Extended Warranty Coverage?
Extended warranties can provide peace of mind and help a buyer purchase a used vehicle with additional confidence, but many car buyers do not consider them a necessity. If the purchase cost of the warranty is not paid out over time to cover repairs, the buyer has spent more money than the repairs would have cost in the first place. Less expensive vehicles with cheaper parts and less intensive labor may result in a warranty that does not pay for itself over time.
However, those who purchase used luxury vehicles, sports cars, or used imported cars may find that an extended warranty is well worth the price due to the higher-than-average cost of repairs for these vehicles. Ultimately, a used car buyer should weigh the potential cost of repairs against the cost of an extended warranty and decide if the coverage and peace of mind are worth the price. Give us a call to get into the nitty gritty!