The Extended Warranty

Here is a typical (unfortunately), bit of information offered by a potential CA Lemon Law client calling Norman Taylor & Associates to get help with his defective motor vehicle. When we asked about the date of the first repair attempt the date he gave was after the original warranty had expired: We told him this and he said, “Oh, no problem, I have an extended warranty.” Listen closely! Did you hear a sigh of disgust and disappointment from the interviewer? This is important; the disgust was not aimed at the caller. That would definitely be the wrong target.

Here’s why I am annoyed, ticked off, disgusted. You can’t purchase any instrument, guarantee, warranty, whatever that will extend the original warranty on a car or truck. Write that on the palm of your hand please. When your original warranty – usually 3 years, 36,000 miles; sometimes more – is done, that’s it there isn’t any more.

For the manufacturer or dealer or both to suggest that if you buy an extended warranty your original warranty is somehow made longer, is just so much horse hockey. Please don’t ask me to explain horse hockey. If it did extend your warranty, it would have a significant effect on your ability to access the provisions of the CA lemon law. No manufacturer will ever willingly do that.

There are exceptions; with Certified Pre-owned vehicles the manufacturer will often authorize additional warranty, sometimes as much as up to 100,000 miles; but this is rare. Also, when the manufacturer knows that there is a serious defect with a specific vehicle – BMW and the High Pressure Fuel Pump for example – they will increase the warranty of that specific part of the vehicle. But you cannot buy additional original warranty.

When you buy an extended warranty you are buying MAINTENANCE INSURANCE. That is correct. It’s insurance. Most of the time if it is applied to a repair, you will have to pay the deductible. It may be $50, $100 or more and the maintenance insurance pays for the rest. It’s not that it’s a bad thing as long as you understand exactly what it covers.

It is just like your regular insurance. It has nothing to do with the original warranty! That is why it fills me with disgust and other less charitable feelings toward manufacturers and dealers. It is an error (some might say a crime) of omission. It’s what they don’t tell you. The California Lemon Law covers a lot of ground but the defects must begin within the original warranty. If you bought an “extended warranty” thinking you have the same rights for remedies under the CA lemon law as you did with your original warranty, think again. If you are not sure, all us and we will go through the whole process together.

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