Contemplating a vehicle service contract, but unsure of how it works or how it differs from an automotive warranty? You’re not alone. A lot of consumers tend to get the two mixed up or fail to understand just what they cover. But seeing as how your vehicle is usually the second most important purchase you will make right after your home, it is in your best interest to do your homework and make sure that you are protected.
What exactly is a vehicle service contract?
It is an agreement to cover costs associated with repairs or services made to your vehicle. A manufacturer’s warranty, on the other hand, is a promise from the manufacturer to stand by their workmanship for a limited time after you purchase the vehicle. Once this warranty expires, a vehicle service contract becomes valid and provides you with much-needed coverage on your vehicle’s most important systems and components.
Is a vehicle service contract right for you?
Here are a few things to consider:
• Keep in mind that the average hourly rate for a mechanic is $100 an hour. A vehicle service contract can help do away with this cost, save you money and keep you from paying any unforeseen and unexpected repair bills.
• If you plan on owning your car for an extended period, it’s definitely in your best interest. A vehicle service contract can keep your car running at its very best and on the road for a long time.
• Even if you don’t intend to keep your car for long, a service contract can increase your vehicle’s resale value once you decide to sell. But before you do, make sure that the service contract you’re purchasing is transferable.
• Do some research into the make and model of the vehicle you plan on purchasing. Is it likely to need repairs and, if so, what are the costs? Weigh this against the price of the service contract to determine if it is worth it to you.
• Does the contract include extras such as discounts on hotels and restaurants, rental car benefits, locksmith services and 24-hour roadside assistance? Not only do these add to the value of the service contract, they can provide you with added peace of mind in the event that something goes wrong while you’re on the road and away from home.
• Take your driving habits into account. Will you be on the road a lot? Is there a lot of stop-and-go traffic? What are the road conditions like? Do you park outside where the weather is extreme? These can all have an adverse effect on your vehicle.
• Check the terms and conditions carefully. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and what is covered specifically.
• In addition to the type of coverage, be mindful of the length of coverage, miles of coverage and deductible.
• Research the company providing the service contract. Are they reputable? Some guidelines to help determine this might include checking their Better Business Bureau rating to see how they work with consumers and finding out what their A.M. Best rating is to verify financial strength and stability.
Have questions about a specific vehicle service contract?
Don’t hesitate to ask your salesperson or agent for more information. Most dealerships typically provide you with a brochure or direct you to a website so you can review the plan in its entirety. Take time to make sure that you fully understand the scope of the service contract and don’t get pressured into purchasing something that makes you feel uncomfortable. With so many options currently available, you are sure to find something that is satisfactory for your budget and your vehicle’s specific requirements.