Doing your due diligence and (finally) choosing the best new (or gently-driven) car that fits your taste, your budget, and your driving needs is only half the challenge when buying a vehicle. Once it’s time to go through the arduous process of signing all the paperwork, you’ll suddenly find yourself being presented with a long list of optional warranties and additional services available for purchase.
Just as you took your time test driving and reading reviews before you selected your car, it’s important that you also become knowledgeable about the warranties and options you’ll be offered. This overview will help you understand whether or not you need them and if they’re right for you.
Here are several different types of protection for new and used cars that you can expect to be offered by the salesman at the time you purchase your vehicle:
This insurance option will pay off your car loan should you die with money still owed on your vehicle. It was created so that family members wouldn’t have the burden of having to make the payments. The lower your credit history, the higher this insurance will cost you.
Most tire manufacturers provide warranties that protect their customers from having to pay for a tire repair and/or full price on a replacement tire. However, there are several specific tire warranties that offer different benefits.
- The Road Hazard Warranty covers the cost of the tire repair if you get a flat tire. If the tire is damaged beyond repair, the warranty prorates the remaining mileage that was left on the damaged tire. You can then put that dollar amount toward the purchase of the replacement tire.
- Manufactures also offer a Workmanship and Materials Warranty. This protects you (typically for the life of the tire) should any defects in the manufacturing of the tire come to light. If the tire’s treads are still good but the tire needs to be replaced, the manufacture replaces the tire free of charge. If the tire was about due to be replaced anyway, the manufacturer will usually prorate however many miles you had left on it.
- Many major tire manufactures like Bridgestone, General Tire, and Michelin uniquely offer “tire trial programs”. Referred to as a Manufacturer’s Special Warranty, this coverage gives you 30 days to try out your new tires. If the ride and drive aren’t what you had hoped, you can return the tires for a full refund or credit toward a different set of tires. Michelin, in particular, takes this warranty a step further with their “Michelin Promise Plan”. With this warranty, you not only get the 30-day satisfaction guarantee, but also a limited mileage protection and a flat-tire changing assistance service.
- Another type of warranty available for your vehicle’s tires is the Uniformity Warranty. This rarely-used warranty covers excess vibration caused by the tire. For car owners who opt for this warranty, they must contact the company regarding any “ride disturbance” caused by a tire within the first 2/32nds of an inch of the tire’s tread.
Whether you get all the tire warranties available or just choose to purchase your tires with whatever warranty comes with them, most tire warranties will be voided if you don’t take care of the tires. You should get the proper and timely maintenance on them. This not only includes having your tires inflated, rotated, and aligned regularly, but also not using them for off-road purposes (if they’re not off- road tires) and damaging your tires with snow chains.
Has Your Auto Warranty Expired?
This warranty is available for an extra few hundreds dollars and is usually offered by the sales consultant as you are about to start signing all the documents. Commonly referred to as Scotchgard (the same product in a spray can available at your local automotive shop), this service protects your car’s interior by repelling stains.
It is also offered at the time of purchase. This warranty promises that if you purchase the paint sealant service. It will keep your car’s paint looking factory fresh for several years.
This service permits the dealership to etch your vehicle’s VIN on the car window so that, should your car be stolen, it can be tracked faster (if, of course, the thieves didn’t break the window!) Although some states demand that dealers offer this option to customers when they are purchasing a vehicle, state regulations do not require you to buy it. If, after you’ve driven your car off the lot and decide weeks later you want to have the vehicle’s VIN etched into the window, you can always go back to the dealer to have it done. You can also find a local automotive service that does it.
Rust-Proofing and Undercoating
Even though today’s new vehicles are manufactured with good corrosion protection, this service is often still offered by dealerships. Getting your vehicle rust-proofed and undecorated can cost an additional $800+. This option typically involves spraying a rust-proofing coating from an aerosol can in the wheel wells.
Unless you are paying cash – in full – for your vehicle, at some point during the length of your car loan you will owe more than the car is worth. During this “gap” period, if the car gets totaled, you would only be able to recoup what the car was worth at the time of the crash. Gap insurance enables you to recoup what was owed on the car.
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