What Do You Want From An Extended Warranty?

June 16, 2010

Do you play warranty roulette? Sort of flip a coin to decide if some plan B approach to car repair is appropriate for you. Or are you a resigned “let the chips fall where they may” person and never even consider whether you want to pay up front for something that may never happen.

Let’s forget about the extended warranty industry itself, which is populated with some bad players and merits extensive research. For the moment we’ll assume that all that is represented is reliable. Now we can concentrate on the decisions that you need to make to assure that your car gets the attention that it needs, while the bulk of the invoice is paid by someone else.

This is all about goals. You should ask yourself some questions. Do I want to average out my car repair expenses over the life of the car so I don’t have to choose between a new head gasket and an extended diet of value meals? Do I really need a warranty, which brings up the length of the new car warranty itself, the reliability and repair history of the car and my planned duration of ownership? What do I want covered, just the parts of the car that keep its vital signs on the charts (the copper plan)? Or do I want the repair of the heated side view mirror covered (the platinum plan)?

And what about those pesky necessary evils--the deductibles? Depending on the amount of the deductibles I will either be motivated to bring in my 2010 Honda CR-V for repairs or be reluctant to spend that $250. So why have a policy that calls for high deductibles in the first place? Maybe the thing to do is to cover only the major components like the engine and transmission and have the highest deductible, say; $1,000 so that now I know that the most a vehicle meltdown could cost me is limited to $1,000.           

 Where you can have the repairs performed is also a consideration. Some plans require you to go to only their network of shops. Other plans allow you to take the car to anyone but not all shops are willing to deal with the administrative hassle of having repairs approved or they are not happy with the time it takes to get paid. Some plans require the shops to give them a discount. If this is the case are you willing to pay the difference to be able to take it to your shop of choice?

However you’re leaning concerning extended warranties either to the go it alone and pay as you go side or the let’s hedge our bets side; it is a decision that requires some thought. Unless, of course, you’re someone who would rather just roll the dice.

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