Are extended auto warranties worth the money?


WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Kim Kelleher and Ashley Karcher’s Chevy Equinox broke down in January, but they have not been able to get it fixed, despite a 24-month extended warranty they bought for $1,600 when they purchased the SUV last year.

After renting cars, and bumming rides from friends and family, in desperation, the couple finally bought an old “beater”, a rusty Ford pickup truck for $500, so they would have a set of wheels.

Their 2011 SUV would not start, so the West Seneca couple had it towed to a Chevrolet dealership to get it fixed, where Kelleher said they got a diagnosis, “It kept stalling out. They thought it was oil, so went to have oil changes–we have all out oil changes up to date, and they said it wasn’t the oil.”

What about the extended warranty? Karcher said when she contacted the warranty company, they told her the responsibility was on General Motors, “telling me that it has nothing to with them. It has everything to do with a manufacturer warranty through GM.”

The extended warranty Ashley and Kim bought is known in the auto industry as an aftermarket warranty, but the legal term is, “service contract”.

Once the Equinox arrived at the shop, the warranty company, Wynn’s Extended Care–based in Florida–demanded the mechanics take the engine apart in an attempt to blame the engine problems on a manufacturer’s defect.

Ashley said Wynn’s still refused to pay, “Wynn’s told them that they wanted them to do further digging, but lo and behold they wanted us to cover the cost of it–the cost of the digging.” The cost of the engine diagnosis? $798.

Aftermarket warranties are generally sold by used car dealers, or offered to new car owners after the manufacturer’s new car warranty expires-generally at the end of three years or 36,000 miles.

Dean Jackson, the General Manager for Keller Chevrolet cautions car buyers to be wary of aftermarket warranties, especially those that are backed by companies they are not familiar with.

“These small aftermarket companies, they have no skin in the game. If they don’t fix your car, you are not walking around telling your friends, ‘Oh don’t ever buy a warranty from Red Carpet.’ Nobody even knows who that is. So it is very easy for them to say it’s not covered.”

Jackson said many of the carmakers, including General Motors are offering their own aftermarket warranties, backed by the company.

News 4 reached out to Wynn’s Extended Care by phone and fax, to find out why they seem to be hesitant to uphold their service contract, but so far, there has been no reply.

Ashley and Kim are now formally filing their warranty claim to have the repairs covered, and to see if they get an official rejection from the company, which has also changed its name to Phoenix American Insurance Group.

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