Experts share advice on extended car warranties

Extended warranties promise peace of mind. But they're expensive, typically more than $1,000. So are they worth it?
March 20, 2014 8:33:14 PM PDT
It's any car owner's fear, needing a costly repair just after the warranty has run out. Extended warranties promise peace of mind. But they're expensive, typically more than a thousand dollars. So are they really worth it?

When Edward Rinaldi bought his Honda Pilot, he opted for an extended warranty. But like the majority of people who buy one, he didn't use it.

"I paid $1,800 for this warranty, and it turns out I never really needed it whatsoever," extended warranty purchaser Edward Rinaldi said.

A Consumer Reports survey of 12,000 subscribers found extended warranties are an "expensive gamble."

"We found that more than half the people who bought an extended warranty never used the coverage. And even among those who did, they spent far more for the coverage than they saved in repairs," Consumer Reports' Jim Travers said.

The cost of an extended car warranty averaged more than $1,200. Among those who used it, the median savings was just 837, a net loss of more than $375.

"We survey subscribers about all kinds of things, all kinds of products and services. And what we found with extended warranties was that they rated down at the bottom in satisfaction," Travers said.

Owners of Hondas, Subarus, and Toyotas were especially disappointed with their extended warranties. Less than a quarter of them said they'd buy one if they had it to do again.

"Well, Hondas, Subarus, Toyotas, those all tend to be very reliable brands to begin with, so the odds are those people really had even less need for their extended warranties and we think that's probably why they were less satisfied," Travers said.

Like many of those surveyed, Rinaldi says he wouldn't buy an extended warranty again.

"I just don't see the necessity for it," he said.

Consumer Reports says the best bet is to buy a reliable car and keep it in top shape.

And a final caution: The Better Business Bureau has received thousands of complaints about extended warranty scams. So if someone tries to sell you one, and you are considering it, check with your dealer to make sure the offer is legit.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13


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