When Should You Consider an Extended Warranty?

By Lori Straus

Whether we like them or not, extended warranties are part of the shopping process these days. Whereas it makes no sense to buy one for your desktop computer, you might buy one for the laptop you carry with you everywhere. And like computers, getting an extended warranty on your vehicle makes sense in some situations and is overkill in others. Today, we’ll take you through a few key points to consider before you sign on the dotted line for a warranty for your car.

Start Your Research Before You Visit the Dealership

You’ll be offered different car warranty packages after you’ve selected a car. By this point in your appointment, you’ll likely be mentally exhausted. Investigate your warranty options beforehand. The documents describing each program contain a lot of detail, so it’ll be easier to review them at home when you’re not overwhelmed by buying a car.

If you’re buying a new vehicle, you’ll find the manufacturers’ warranty programs online. Read the Canadian warranty programs, because they will differ from the American ones. Manufacturers offer a base warranty and several extended warranties. Know your options before you set foot in the dealership.

For used vehicles, extended warranties are usually your only option. There’s one exception: the vehicle you’re buying is relatively new and still carries the remainder of its original warranty. Extended warranties on used vehicles do not automatically come from the OEM, so ask your sales rep who backs the dealership’s used car extended warranties.

Young Business man insurance agent and customer look at the contract together at the table in officeWhat Do You Need the Vehicle For?

If you plan to drive the vehicle only as an occasional back-up to your family’s main one, you likely won’t need an extended warranty. On the other hand, if this vehicle is for your daily commute, an extended warranty—especially one that comes with roadside assistance—could come in handy.

Read the Warranty Documentation Carefully

Not all warranties are created equal. For example, an OEM warranty will only be valid at that OEM’s dealerships across the country. By contrast, a third-party warranty provider may have thousands of locations across the country where you can access the warranty if needed. You may also be able to buy an independent dealer’s warranty. Although it will only be valid at that dealership, if you’ll only be driving your car in the city, this won’t be an issue for you.

Also, be clear on the kind of car warranty your sales rep is offering you. A powertrain warranty doesn’t cover the same parts as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. But if a powertrain warranty satisfies your needs, then that’s all you need to purchase.

Pay Attention to What Isn’t CoveredAsian woman using mobile phone while looking and Stressed man sitting after a car breakdown on street

Marketing documents for warranties will clearly tell you what is covered. This is obviously important because you want to buy the package that most suits your needs. However, don’t assume anything. If a part or situation is not listed under the items covered, chances are it isn’t. Read the list of exclusions to confirm.

Finally, write down whatever questions you have for your sales rep, and take these with you when you purchase your vehicle.

Read with Caution, Decide with Clarity

By knowing your needs, you should be able to decide easily if an extended warranty program is in your best interests. Read all the documentation carefully, discuss your options with your spouse, close friend, or trusted acquaintance, and ask your dealership whatever questions you still have. An extended warranty can definitely give you peace of mind, but only if it’s the right program for you.