There are two kinds of people in the world: people who buy warranties and people who don’t. The latter are the daredevils, the risk-takers, the care-not’s who throw caution to the wind and are sure that a warranty is just some intangible thing that they don’t need to waste their money on. There’s also that third kind of person who can be sold anything, with little effort, so I guess there are three kinds of people in the world. That third kind of person probably describes me. I once bought an extended warranty on a new Hyundai that already came with a 100,000 mile/10 year warranty for free. It was a moment of weakness because I was worried that the thing might decide to fall apart like the cop car in The Blues Brothers. I had never owned a Hyundai before this and, back in the day, they were not known for being great cars. I did, however, manage to put 50,000 miles on that eggplant-purple Hyundai that I grew to love and the only money I ever spent on that car was for new tires and a car cover so no one in my neighborhood would know that I bought a purple Hyundai. I swear, I thought it was black when I bought it… and then the sun came out.
Buying a used car can be far more exciting and cheaper than buying a new car. Think about it, it’s like playing Russian Roulette and what’s more exciting than that? You can get a model that’s only a few years old with low mileage and some other sucker has taken the thousands of dollars of depreciation, and he did it all for YOU! Mighty thoughtful of him to buy that new car and lovingly care for it and then, I’ll assume because he has too much money, trades it in at a huge loss just to help YOU. But can you ever really know what happened to this cream puff before it turned up on the dealers lot with only a few thousand miles?
CarFax is pretty good at telling you where your car has been, but people can be sneaky and CarFax is not SkyNet… yet. Your new-used car could be fine and you’ll never have a days worth of trouble and you’ll kick yourself for buying that warranty from that the nice man in that office that is way to small for him and has no windows. But your new low mileage ride could have crashed in to the back of a manure truck, driven down a dirt road every day, been in a flood or someone could have died in it and only a really expensive, top-of-the-line, platinum-plus extended warranty is going to cover ghost removal.
So with a used car, you should ALWAYS get the extended warranty, right? The answer is: No, not really. And yes.
Pro Tip 1: Talk to your friends about their car. How reliable is it? What make is it? How many miles are on it? Did they buy the warranty and ever have to use it? Does the radio only play 50’s music?
Pro Tip 2: If you buy a used beige Camry, it’s probably never going to break. Ever. Just change the fluids when you’re supposed to and you’ll be so sick of it when it hits 200K trouble-free miles, you’ll be begging someone to take it.
Pro Tip 3: Lease German and British cars. BMW and Mercedes make some of the finest cars on the planet. They are awesome cars for the first 50K miles or so. Then, one day you find yourself in for routine maintenance to get rid of the christmas tree of lights that are lit up on your dash and surprise, you get a bill for $1789 for the 27.3 things that are wrong with your car. God help you if you bought a Range Rover! There’s a reason they cost $80K new but you can buy one that’s 10 years old that looks about the same for $1799. If you have a lease, it should cover most repairs that have to be made and they will have to be made.
Pro Tip 4: If you absolutely must buy German or British, get an off-lease car and then get the most expensive warranty they will sell you. The one that goes for 10 years and 150K miles and has a low deductible that allows you to take it to the manufactures dealer for the stupid things that will break, like the random $700 power mirror adjustment cable. The warranty will pay for itself over and over again and you’ll make a new friend in the service department because you’ll be visiting him more than you’ll be visiting your parents. Ask me how I know.
Of course, everything I say could be wrong.
Erica Habedank | CW44 Tampa Bay