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Vehicle Warranties (Part 1 Of 2)

Updated on December 6, 2012

Vehicle Warranties Deciphered

This article contains information regarding vehicle warranties, something I'm quite familiar with since I've purchased an extended warranty for every vehicle I've owned except for one, my GMC Sonoma pickup. I didn't get one for it because I bought it at 157,000 miles and didn't think I could get one. As a matter of fact, when I bought it back in 2008 I could find a company that could offer one for it. It appears that has changed and I can now get one which I will go into a little later in the next article.

Whether getting an extended warranty is a good investment or not depends partly on what kind of car you're driving. I say partly because some otherwise highly reliable automobiles can be problematic. This can all depend on how the car was maintained before you bought it and let's face it, no matter who you buy from, whether a dealer or individual, they are not going to have full service records and many dealers are just as prone to lying to you about the vehicle as an individual. In fact, one salesperson once told me that no one traded their vehicle in if it was running perfectly. Now that's not altogether true. Some people just want something new but the majority of people in today's economy can't afford to get rid of their vehicle if it's running good and they don't have to do very many repairs. Some people are forced to keep their cars even when they are doing alot of repairs because they can't afford to buy a new one.

So, when you buy a used car, the chances are good there's something with that vehicle they either couldn't get diagnosed properly, couldn't afford the repair or simply didn't want to do the repair.

In fact, almost every vehicle I've purchased had something go wrong right after I bought it or shortly thereafter and I've purchased from different dealers.

As for whether a warranty is a good idea is really up to you. If you can afford it, it's probably a good idea, but keep in mind there's a good chance it won't pay for itself.

So far no warranty I've purchased as paid for itself(which I'm glad about) but all in all I wasted money.

Now alot of people will tell you if you don't purchase one that's when you will need it. Whether that's true I can't say. But talk to a few people and do a little research and you will probably hear a few horror stories when it comes to vehicle warranties.

I can tell you this, vehicle warranty companies have the deck stacked in their favor. They make sure it is.

I focus this article mainly on my 2001 Taurus when it comes to warranties because that's the vehicle I drive the most although I have warranties on every car we own.

The information I offer here are my experiences only and certainly doesn't mean that every warranty company is created equal but they all will get by with as little as possible.

My mechanic had to beg for payment from the warranty company after my valve replacement. It took about a month of begging and it turned out the mechanic had to beg for payment from four other warranty companies at the same time as mine. That was enough for me and the warranty company would only pay for a partial valve replacement as opposed to the recommended full valve job. I ended up going with that instead of paying an extra $700(which I didn't have) to get the full replacement done. That is a ripoff. All in all I lost roughly $1500 on both warranties from this vehicle. That's in addition to being without my car for over a month while the first mechanics(the dealer) twiddled their thumbs and finally told me I needed a new engine which the warranty company wouldn't cover because the dealer couldn't tell them what was causing the engine problems. It turned out to be a cracked valve. The warranty company isn't going to pay for a new engine when they can get by with just a valve replacement. And had I been doing the repair myself I would have done the valve replacement since the car had 174,000 miles on it.

I can't in good conscience recommend an extended warranty. There was a time when I would have but not now. Of course, it all depends on the vehicle and the warranty company. Some vehicles are more problematic than others and some warranty companies are better than others.

The one thing about warranties that many people may not know is the fact they gather all the information and statistics about whatever make and model you drive and they gear their warranties according to what goes wrong and what doesn't.

For instance, you have a car that power window motors are rarely an issue you will be able to get a warranty that covers these things along with a myriad of other things that aren't an issue in your make/model and this makes you think you're getting more for your money since there's alot of stuff they cover. Only, they don't cover the parts that actually are problems for your vehicle make. They also look at your VIN. There's alot of information associated with your VIN that doesn't show up on carfax reports. Although, as far as I can see it is limited to dealers only so even if the dealer doesn't report it to carfax it is still reported to the car manufacturer. I didn't get any information regarding the work performed by my mechanic although it could still be reported to the car manufacturer.

But since I've taken my car to the dealer regularly and when I'm out of town that's where I take it, it offers a pretty good overview of what's being done to my vehicle.

Bottom line, the warranty companies gather as much information as they can from many sources regarding every vehicle make out there and then gear a warranty towards the types of problems vehicles exhibit.

Not only did the warranty company refuse to pay my mechanic for over a month for work they approved they refused to pay until I signed a written agreement agreeing not to cancel them and if I did I had to pay the warranty company back the money that was paid to my mechanic or face a lawsuit.

For this reason my mechanic no longer accepts warrantied customers and has in fact turned customers away because it's not worth the hassle. So if you ever face the problem of a mechanic/dealer(almost no dealer will accept an extended warranty not offered by them and when they do accept it you have to practically force them) not wanting to accept your extended warranty it is probably due to many problems they've had. I had to practically force the dealer, that did my ac compressor repair, to take my extended warranty and then the dealer lied to me about what the warranty would cover and what it wouldn't. The dealer issues I've faced are another article.

Bottom line is you have to be very diligent when it comes to warranties. If you can't see what is covered and what's not in writing don't take the coverage or you could end up paying for repairs out of pocket that a sly rep told you was covered just to make a sale. The same goes for dealers. Let them know you want to see the covered parts in writing and if they can't show it to you go to another warranty company.


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