What Will Your Auto Warranty Cover
The seller's new or used recent model car or truck has a warranty. The salesperson tells you so. A warranty is a good thing, but there are many kinds: manufacturer's warranties, unlimited warranty, limited warranty, and auto extended warranty. As you can see automobile warranty may mean many different things.
First of all, the warranty you will be getting as the purchaser is legally defined only within the four corners of the warranty contract itself. The seller may have told you many things about what repairs the warranty will cover on your car, and for how long. He may even have an honest belief about what he is telling you.
It does not matter what the salesperson tells you. When the time comes that you return the car to the dealer for repairs, whether or not you pay for the repair or the dealer pays for the repair will be determined by the writing in the automobile warranty contract itself. Look on the back. There will be some small print that says something like "all prior understandings or agreements, written and oral, are merged into this document." In legal parlance that is called a merger or integration clause. In street talk it means that the guarantee you got from the salesperson is not worth as much as the free cup of coffee you got in the dealer's waiting room.
You have to read the contract. All of it. That being said there are three basic types of automobile warranties and one warranty variation being offered by some high end automobile dealers.
This means that there is no guarantee of any kind. You buy the car as it sits. What you see, or do not see for that matter, is what you get. You pay your money and you take your chances. The salesperson may have assured you about the car's reliability, perfect condition, and so on. It does not matter. Chances are that no promise that you heard from the salesperson or the dealer would be made legally binding on them.
"Limited Warranty" and "Unlimited Warranty"
For practical purposes both Limited Warranty and Unlimited Warranty mean almost the same thing. An Unlimited Warranty from the same dealer will be less-limited than the Limited Warranty. Unlimited is better sales talk than Less Limited.
A modern vehicle has thousands of individual components. Even with a so called Unlimited Warranty it is unlikely that each and every individual component, or perhaps even vehicle system comprising dozens or hundreds of components, will be covered by the warranty. Generally, however, with an Unlimited Warranty the full cost of repairs on covered systems and components will by paid by the dealer with no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Limited Warranties can exclude components or entire vehicle systems, like computers and electronics. Limited Warranties have shorter time periods or lower mileage coverage. They may also restrict the kinds of use of the vehicle, and Limited Warranties usually have a deductible. If the vehicle has a limited warranty repairs are probably going to cost you something if not the entire cost of the repair.
A relatively new term in the auto industry is "Certified Vehicle." Cars sold as certified vehicles are covered for repairs by the dealer much like a new car warranty would be. The rationale is that the dealer's mechanics have verified the integrity of the covered systems. Like every other kind of warranty the limits are set by the written contract and not by what anybody guaranteed you in a conversation.
Auto Extended Warranties are designed to cover what Limited and Unlimited Warranties do not. Usually by lengthening the time period or miles of coverage, or by covering additional systems and components. Auto Extended Warranties are misnamed. They are better called Service Contracts or Repair Insurance. Extended Warranties pay for repairs on covered mechanical systems according to the terms of the contract.
All new car dealers offer Extended Warranties for extra cost, but you are not restricted to buying an Extended Warranty from the same dealer that sold you the car. It is almost certainly worthwhile to shop around before buying a car Extended Warranty from the dealer. Reputable independent extended warranty companies often have better prices and terms.
(C) 2006 Peter Lawson. Auto Extended Warranty