Explaining your used car warranty options

Purchasing a previously owned vehicle requires a leap of faith. Even after relying on a test drive and a thorough inspection by a mechanic, it’s impossible to know how the previous owner drove and maintained the vehicle and the wear and tear it may have endured.

Drivers also cannot predict any issues that may crop up after signing a purchase contract. A certified pre-owned warranty from the dealership, an extended warranty or a different type of aftermarket warranty product can offer some peace of mind.

Navigating these warranties can take some savviness. Certified pre-owned warranties tend to be the smartest bet in the realm of used car warranties.

This is because factory warranties are backing the product, and the vehicles that are given the CPO stamp have been properly vetted and are in great shape to be insurable, according to IntelliChoice, a company that develops and distributes consumer automobile ownership data, ratings of vehicles based on their consumer value, leasing cost data and Certified Pre-Owned Program analysis.

Many car companies conduct small repairs to prepare a vehicle for CPO status, and cars are inspected thoroughly to ensure they are worthy of being backed by the factory warranty. This is a boon to buyers because they know they are likely getting a quality vehicle.

There are mixed reviews by automotive experts on other aftermarket warranties, often billed as “vehicle protection plans” and “service contracts.” Some people believe they can save a lot of money. Others feel that they aren’t redeemed enough to warrant the out-of-pocket cost, and that paying for repairs alone is more cost-effective.

Autotrader, a vehicle value estimator and buying/selling tool, says that an extended warranty is rarely a good buy on a used car, but there are a few exceptions. If the car is notoriously unreliable (check J.D. Power reliability ratings), purchasing a warranty can be a smarter buy.

Drivers should look for an exclusionary (bumper to bumper) warranty, which covers all items except for ones specifically excluded on a list. This type of warranty is more comprehensive, and there’s less of a risk that a claim will be denied.

Other warranties include powertrain warranties, which only cover the vehicle’s most important and expensive components. A WRAP warranty also may be attractive, as it will extend coverage to the few items that may no longer be covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty.

Buyers also can try to negotiate a warranty, if the car is not CPO, into the purchase price as an incentive for buying the vehicle. Individuals can speak with the salesperson to find a deal – and coverage – that works for them.

Warranties are an option that may help buyers feel a little more secure in their purchases.

About the Author