Is An Extended Car Warranty The Best Way To Save On Auto Repairs?

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Heading into the new year, you’re likely looking for new ways to save money after the holidays. Saving on auto repairs and reducing your car costs should make the list this year. There are plenty of ways to save on auto repairs that you’ve likely never considered or have forgotten altogether. You might even be wondering if an extended car warranty can help you save money.  

Extended car warranties can sometimes be an excellent way to save money on auto repairs. Continue reading to learn more about these warranty plans.

Is An Extended Warranty Worth It?

Extended warranties can be a worthwhile investment dependent upon how you drive and your vehicle. For instance, if you drive a luxury or sports car, your repairs from the engine to paint job will be more expensive. Therefore, a warranty that covers certain high-dollar repairs might be worth the cost in premiums. 

Your vehicle likely came with a factory or dealership warranty no matter what you drive. The OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer’s warranty covers significant repairs for a certain number of miles or years to protect the life of your car. Traditionally the OEM warranty will cover the first three years or 36,000 miles. Factory warranties do not last forever, but they cover average use. 

If you put a lot of miles on your car, then your factory warranty has likely expired. On the other hand, if you put fewer miles on your vehicle than average, you should see if the factory warranty coverage still applies. 

Once you’ve determined your factory warranty has expired, it’s time to investigate extended auto warranties or vehicle protection plans. They aren’t for everyone, but a quote will be free if you’re working with a reputable company. 

There are three scenarios when an extended warranty might be for you:

  1. You plan to keep your car for five years or longer.
  2. You anticipate a lot of repairs.

However, if you plan to trade in your car in less than three years, a vehicle protection plan might not be for you. Other reasons you shouldn’t buy an extended auto warranty are:

  • You have ample funds to pay for repairs
  • You don’t drive your car a lot

There are several upsides to purchasing an extended auto warranty. First, you can pick your plan, covering major engine troubles right down to the paint job. Most extended warranties cover engine trouble and major systems like the transmission. You can also choose a bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage that will cover everything in between. Be careful to read what your warranty does cover before you decide. 

You can choose how much you’d like to pay and what you’d like the warranty to cover. Knowing the plan’s details will help you to not only select your plan correctly but will also help when filing a claim. For instance, some warranties offer reimbursement, while some pay the shop directly.

The only downsides to extended warranties are the cost and the potential never to use them. But, of course, not using your extended warranty is a mixed blessing since that means nothing has needed repair on your car. Still, you will be paying a monthly premium for extended warranty coverage, and it probably doesn’t cover everything that could go wrong.

Whether or not you decide on an extended warranty, there are ways to ensure that you don’t go broke getting your car repaired. We’ve listed some strategies below.

Check Local Repair Shops for Repair Costs

Start with a list of prices for common car problems. Your list will be helpful as you decide whether a warranty is beneficial. Next, you can make a list of likely car repairs and routine maintenance and shop around for prices. This will help you understand what you will have to pay for scheduled and unexpected repairs. You can then determine if the cost of the vehicle protection plan is worth it.

While you’re looking around at local repair shops, get some reviews for mechanics in the area. Sometimes the best mechanics will be at a dealership. You want to find a mechanic you can trust who can do your scheduled maintenance and is trustworthy enough to handle bigger jobs that may arise. That way, your car has one maintenance history and one mechanic who is familiar with your car’s quirks. 

Once you have found a trusted mechanic, stick with them. Get a quote for common maintenance issues as well as another opinion on whether extended warranty coverage is right for you. Of course, if possible, you could always buy your parts yourself and take them to your trusted mechanic for repairs. 

Learn How to Do Basic Car Repair and Maintenance

Another option for saving money this year is to learn to perform your car’s essential or scheduled maintenance. Doing your own regularly scheduled maintenance can save you hundreds of dollars a month.

Don’t attempt anything too dangerous or complex or outside your skillset, but regular maintenance should be reasonably easy to perform. Consult your car manual to know how often and what scheduled maintenance you should be performing each month. The best way to keep your car in good shape and avoid repairs is to keep up with the basic maintenance.

If you have someone in your life who has mechanical knowledge, you can likely hire them for less than you would pay at a dealership or shop. Be sure you work out the details ahead of time, such as how much you will pay and when your friend will be available for repairs and maintenance.

Most parts are available over the counter at auto parts stores or online from discount parts websites. However, before you buy parts yourself, confirm two things. First, if you decide to get your work done at a mechanic shop, the mechanic will take the parts you buy yourself. Second, if you’re doing the work yourself, the part is the correct part.

Take it Easy on the Road

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the easier you are on the brakes and shocks, the longer they will last. The better you drive and the more safety precautions you take, the less likely you will need to file an insurance or warranty claim. Being without your vehicle can rack up other costs, like rental or commuter fees, so you want to drive as carefully as possible to avoid putting it in the shop.

Another way you can care for your car is to read the manual and see when you will need scheduled maintenance. Knowing what you need ahead of time will allow you to save money in case the worst happens. Whether you perform maintenance yourself or hire a trusted mechanic, you should know what goes into your car repairs and how to save some money.

The Bottom Line

An extended car warranty is not always the best choice for car owners looking to save money. However, the cost might be worth it for certain cases, like if you own a luxury vehicle or an older, high-mileage vehicle.

There are better ways to save money when it comes to auto repairs. These include doing car repairs yourself and looking for affordable but reliable mechanics in your area.