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Should you opt for an extended warranty on your new vehicle?

Extended warranties promise peace of mind, but they're expensive. Are they worth it?
March 4, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
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 $1,000. 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," said Jim Travers, associate auto editor, Consumer Reports.

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," said Travers. "And what we found with extended warranties was that they rated down at the bottom in satisfaction."

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," said Travers.

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 legitimate.