When you purchase a new vehicle, it will likely come with a standard warranty from the manufacturer. The standard warranty may not offer enough coverage, so you may want to purchase an extended warranty in addition to the standard warranty on the vehicle. Depending on age and mileage, you can also purchase extended warranties for certified pre-owned vehicles and some used vehicles. If you’ve purchased a vehicle in the past, you may ask yourself, “How to check if my car has an extended warranty?”
What Is an Extended Warranty?
An extended warranty, also known as a service contract, is a contract between the consumer and the manufacturer that offers coverage for the replacement or repairs of certain parts in a vehicle. Extended warranties cover defects from the manufacturer and issues arising from normal vehicle wear and tear. The coverage will be based on a specific amount of time or mileage, whichever comes first.
For example, you purchase a new vehicle with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, but you want to protect yourself for the duration of your 5-year loan. You can purchase an extended warranty for the additional two years of coverage. Your vehicle will be covered as long as you stay under the mileage limit on the extended warranty. You can purchase an extended warranty or service contract from the dealership or an auto club, such as AAA.
How Does an Extended Warranty Work?
An extended warranty covers specific replacements and repairs that are either out of the scope of the original manufacturer’s warranty or occur after the expiration of the manufacturer’s warranty. Extended warranties can vary significantly in terms of what is covered and the length of the term or mileage limit. Typically, extended warranties cover issues with your vehicle’s mechanical or electric parts. They can also cover certain aspects of your transmission and engine. Extended warranties do not cover routine maintenance services, such as oil changes or brake pads.
You can purchase an extended warranty for one to eight years or 12,000 to 125,000 miles. Many service contracts have limits on some of the coverage, such as towing costs. Others may add in a depreciation factor and only pay partial costs based on the current value of your vehicle and the number of miles you’ve accumulated.
How To Check If My Car Has an Extended Warranty
To check if your vehicle has an extended warranty, you’ll want to start with the original paperwork from the date of purchase. You should see a vehicle service contract (VSC) somewhere in your packet if you have an extended warranty. If you can’t find the paperwork or don’t see a VSC anywhere in your paperwork, you can also call the dealership to ask if you purchased an extended warranty.
Once you’ve established that you have a VSC, you’ll want to check the expiration information on the policy. This information will be listed as a number of years or mileage and applies to whichever comes first. If you are within the warranty period and under the mileage limit, your vehicle is still covered by the extended warranty.
How Much Does an Extended Warranty Cost?
An extended warranty can range from $1,000 to several thousand dollars, usually tacked onto your vehicle financing and paid upfront. Many extended warranties feature per-repair or per-visit deductibles that also must be paid at the time of service. These deductibles can vary from $100 to hundreds of dollars, depending on what you selected at the time of purchase. Zero-deductible extended warranties are available, but the out-of-pocket upfront cost will be more.
The price of your extended warranty can often be negotiated to get you the best value for your money. Take the time to consider what is and is not covered, as well as the overall cost of the plan, to determine whether it’s worth the added expense to have an extended warranty.
What Are the Advantages of an Extended Warranty?
Extended warranties offer several advantages, such as:
- Repair cost savings. An extended warranty will save you money on many out-of-pocket service repair costs.
- Extended protection. Extended warranties go beyond the scope of standard warranties, offering additional protection against a myriad of other issues.
- Flexibility in purchasing. You can purchase an extended warranty at the time of vehicle purchase or down the road, providing you time to consider the decision.
What Are the Disadvantages of an Extended Warranty?
Extended warranties also have a few disadvantages, including:
- Additional expense. The cost of the extended warranty itself, as well as any deductibles, can quickly add up and put a strain on your budget.
- Use it or lose it. If your vehicle never needs any covered repairs or replacements, you’ve essentially paid for an insurance policy you never used.
- Covered expenses only. Extended warranties cover specific repairs and replacements on your vehicle, and the issue you’re experiencing may not be covered.
- Coverage limits. Some extended warranties have coverage limits; once you meet that limit, your coverage is no longer available.
Do I Need an Extended Warranty for My Vehicle?
There’s no one answer to this question as it varies depending on your circumstances. If you are in a financial position where you can afford repairs and replacements of parts beyond your vehicle’s standard warranty, then you may not need an extended warranty. Or, if you can afford to put some money in savings each month in anticipation of future vehicle expenses, you may be further ahead not to purchase an extended warranty.
For those who are worried about financing vehicle repairs and replacements that would be covered under an extended warranty, it may be worth considering purchasing one. Also, if the standard manufacturer’s warranty no longer covers your vehicle due to age or mileage, it could be prudent to buy an extended warranty. If your vehicle lacks in the reliability department, you may also want to consider an extended warranty.
Purchasing an extended warranty is a personal decision unique to every driver. Many enjoy the comfort and convenience an extended warranty provides, while others feel that the costs outweigh the benefits. For more information on extended warranties, you can contact your local dealership, where a team member would be happy to review their vehicle service contract offerings.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.