Thinking about a used car extended warranty? Nervous about what's
under the hood? Used car dealers are feeling your pain all the way to
the bank. In an ironic twist, pre-owned vehicle dealers have found a
way to profit from their bad reputation.
No, they're not just selling overpriced used car extended
warranties anymore. They're charging a 10%-25% markup on used cars
certified (by them) not to be pieces of junk. The accompanying
certified used car warranties in fact usually carry much less
protection than the best used car warranties, which you can buy
yourself online. Who needs a used car warranty if your jalopy is a
But even paying 10%-25% more won't eliminate risk. Thorough
extended warranties for used cars are necessary, certified or not. In
some cases, a half-hearted inspection means the certification may not
be worth the paper it's written on. Used car problems often only appear
months or years after purchase. That's why even for mint used cars,
used car extended warranties are essential.
Worse, certified used cars don't always come with any
extended used car warranty coverage. When a certified used car
warranty is included, it usually has much less coverage than a new car
warranty. Even most standard pre-owned vehicle extended warranties
offer much more protection than most certified used car warranties.
You can almost always do better on your own. An independent
inspection and a used car extended warranty provide better peace of
mind, often at a lower price.
Certified Used Car Inspection: Used Car Extended Warranties Still Needed
The cornerstone of a certified used car program is the
supposedly super-thorough inspection. There are good reasons to think
that the inspection does not replace an independent inspection or used
car extended warranty coverage.
*Are inspections really added value? Don't you wonder why
dealers aren't inspecting all their cars before taking delivery
themselves? Car dealers aren't idiots, at least not with cars. Anyone
who's had to haggle over a trade-in knows that. The big question is
whether the dealership will disclose everything it knows. Trust is
still an issue with certified cars.
*Certified by whom? Think about it: the same people who are
trying to sell you the car are also certifying it. Yes, you read
right: the certification is usually done by the dealership selling
the car. If there's any manufacturer oversight, it's often just an
occasional inspection of the dealer's inspection.
*Duplicate inspection. You should have any used car,
certified or not, thoroughly inspected by an independent mechanic.
You're up against an industry that demonstrates about as much
trustworthiness as, well, used car dealers. Do not give up your first
line of defense.
*Limits of inspections. No inspection in the world can foresee
every possible problem. Oftentimes, something that breaks a few months
after purchase really was fine when the car was sold--or was virtually
undetectable. When--not if--something gives out, you'd better have a
used car extended warranty.
Certified Used Car Warranty Coverage under the Hood
The implied selling point of certified used cars is they won't
break. That kind of makes used car extended warranties seem
unnecessary. Naturally, some buyers may wonder what will be happen if
something does break anyway. In order to ease those inquiring minds,
certified used car warranties often come included, or are at least
implied. Sadly, too few people will inquire further about what the
certified used car warranty covers.
*Does certified mean under warranty? Not necessarily. The
major manufacturers' certified programs usually include some extended
warranty protection. But oftentimes, certified cars sold outside of
manufacturers' programs do not come with any extended warranty
coverage. If it does break, tough luck.
*How good's the warranty? The GM Certified Used Vehicle
Warranty is only for 3 months or 3,000 miles! Ford offers longer
certified warranties. But they generally aren't bumper-to-bumper,
covering only the power train. Forget about the little extras like
the roof or the doors. Right off the internet, you can buy extended
warranty used car coverage that is generally bumper-to-bumper and lasts
Certified Used Cars: Extended Warranties Still Needed
Certified used cars offer two things: an inspection and a used car extended warranty. Arguably, neither is worth the price.
*Inspection. Let's face reality. The junky used car problem
doesn't exist for want of dealer inspections. Lemons get sold for one
of three reasons. a) The defect did not show up in the dealer's own
inspection. b) The dealer is trying to sell a car whose defects were
already known. Or sometimes c) the buyer knows about the defects but is
guilty of wishful thinking. In none of these cases will a certified
inspection provide the protection of an independent inspection and
extended used car warranty.
*Warranty. A certified used car will often cost 10%-25%
more. For a $10,000 used car, that's $1,000-$2,500. An extended used
car warranty from an independent auto warranty company will often cost
about the same. But the best used car warranties will provide a lot
more protection than certified used car warranties. Given that fact,
you may end up getting an independent extended car warranty anyway.
Worst of all, certified used cars come with an expensive risk.
They tempt you to let your guard down. Ford even issued a press release
headlined Pre-Owned Vehicle Program Reduces Customer Buyer Beware. As
if that were a good thing.
Of course, in the end, you may buy a certified used car
anyway. These days it seems there are fewer and fewer used cars that
aren't certified. Just make sure to get an independent inspection and
an independent used car extended warranty. Certified or not, it's
still a used car.
About The Author
Joel Walsh, a freelance automotive writer recommends Auto
Service Warranty, Inc. Where you can get quotes for used car extended
warranties in five-seconds