To Buy or Not to Buy
Extended warranties are offered on virtually every item you buy these days, from big-ticket purchases like a new car to more mundane acquisitions like toasters and circular saws. But do these warranties actually save dollars and cents? The answer depends on the complexity and price of the item in question. An extended warranty is essentially an insurance policy on your purchase—if the product malfunctions, an extended warranty will usually cover any repairs. When deciding whether to purchase an extended warranty, ask yourself if the purchase is worth the additional investment. For less expensive items, you may save money by forgoing the extended warranty and instead opting to buy a new and updated model in the event of malfunction. However, in the case of many costly commodities controlled by computer chips and requiring specialized services to repair, an extended warranty might make sense.
Cars and Trucks
Buying a new vehicle is a pretty expensive proposition these days, and even though most warranties cover you for several months, the cost of any repairs after the warranty expires can run into the thousands of dollars. If you plan on keeping your vehicle beyond the original manufacturer’s warranty, you may want to purchase an extended warranty to protect your purchase. Bear in mind only that aftermarket car warranties run the gamut in terms of quality and value. It pays to do your research. TheDrive.com offers extensive, in-depth coverage of popular providers and plans. Don't know where to begin? Start here with the Drive's review of Carshield's Extended Warranty plan.
RVs and Boats
Luxury items carry a luxury price tag—not just the upfront cost but also the cost of maintenance and repairs. In fact, repairs on these expensive vehicles can cost more than repairs on a conventional car or truck. With potential repairs running into thousands of dollars, an extended warranty for these vacation-friendly toys may offer peace of mind, as well as serious savings.
Almost everyone carries a cell phone with them at all times—which provides many opportunities for these modern necessities to be dropped, cracked, stepped on or exposed to moisture, thereby rendering them inoperable. Because most phones are expensive and require the user to sign a service contract, you may want to consider adding a protection plan to your overall package.
Today’s refrigerators are models of efficiency and style, and they also carry a steep price tag. Some units cost upwards of $3,000, which means replacing a lemon (that is, a faulty unit), can put a serious crimp in your household budget. Even though most refrigerators come with a two-year warranty, you may want to consider purchasing an extended warranty to cover your fridge for an additional five years.
Even though most central heating and air conditioning systems are designed to last for years, most only come with a one- or two-year standard warranty. A well-functioning HVAC system is essential for household comfort in most climates, so having an extended warranty may provide you with additional peace of mind.
Washers & Dryers
Today’s top-of-the-line washers and dryers offer a host of fancy features, most of which are controlled by computer, which drives up the cost of repairs when malfunctions occur. You may not need to purchase an extended warranty on the most basic models, but if you’re spending $800, $1,500 or more on a new washer or dryer, an extended warranty is probably a good investment.
Today’s televisions boast bigger screens and more intricate controls designed to enable a wide variety of fancy programming packages. All of that technology carries a high price tag to fix, making an extended warranty a good bet on more expensive units. Indeed, one service call could potentially put you ahead on the cost of a warranty.
Whether you are purchasing a new gas-fired range or electric stove, chances are that the main functions are computer-controlled, which means repairs can be difficult and costly. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the stove is the heart of the kitchen, and an extended warranty can protect them both.
Americans love their lawns, and spend an estimated $40 billion annually on lawn supplies and maintenance, including investing in heavy-duty mowers, lawn tractors, and, in the case of non-electric units, gas to keep them running. Lawnmowers and tractors are more complex than the models of old, with functions often being controlled by computerized mechanisms. This complexity makes them more expensive to fix—and it’s a good reason to consider purchasing an extended warranty.
Snow blowers are called into service during the worst possible weather, and are therefore subject to harsher conditions than most other household maintenance items. The fact that a high-quality snow blower can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000, combined with the severe environment in which they are used, makes these machines ideal candidates for extended warranty protection.
Your home is most likely your largest investment. Home insurance is a valuable way to protect the investment, but could you save money on your home insurance policy? Read our top tips for how to safeguard your property while saving money.