QUESTION: Do You Buy Extended Warranties?

Posted In: Blog, RV Products, Towing, Video

Extended warranties — to buy or not to buy? That is the question.

Although our Airstream has no motor, our tow vehicle has an enormous diesel monster of a heart beating in its chest. We’ve repeatedly been told two truths about diesels: (1) they are wonderfully durable and rarely encounter mechanical problems; (2) if something does happen to go wrong, they are horribly expensive to repair.

We received a notice in the mail from Ford with a helpful, albeit somewhat frightening, reminder: “WARNING! YOUR WARRANTY EXPIRES AT 36,000 MILES!”

Yes, the mileage on SEEMORE’s odometer read an ominous 35,500. We were facing that inevitable decision of whether to buy Ford’s $2000 Extended Service Plan, which would grant us an additional four years of “bumper to bumper” coverage up to 100,000 miles.

“Get the warranty,” a friend advised. “It will pay for itself.”

But other friends had drawn the exact opposite conclusion.

“Those extended warranty plans are always in the favor of the factory,” one friend countered. “I’ve never bought one in my life.”

At first glance, I was convinced we should purchase the warranty. How much is one’s peace of mind worth? (To Ford, it’s worth $2000.) But then I started reading the fine print. It turns out that our truck is actually covered by THREE warranties, only ONE of which expires at the 36,000 mile mark.

While the “bumper to bumper” coverage expires at 36,000 miles, the powertrain (transmission, etc.) is covered for 60,000 miles. And the diesel engine? It’s covered by warranty for a reassuring 100,000 miles.

To confuse matters further, there are different “extended service plans” available for purchase from Ford. The cheaper plans allow for a higher per visit deductible. The more expensive plans have a lower deductible, with the lowest being $50. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of warranty choices. But in the end, you may decide that the best choice is no warranty whatsoever.

After all, with an extended warranty, you’re not only betting that something will go wrong, but that whatever goes wrong will cost more than the warranty cost. If the warranty was $200 it would be a no brainer. But’s it’s $2000, and that will buy an awful lot of parts and service from independent mechanics.

Yes, when considering a diesel engine and accompanying powertrain, it’s not hard to imagine repair bills that extend into the thousands of dollars. But for the “bumper to bumper” items like air-conditioning and the radio? Usually those can be handled independently on a cost effective basis. There’s no shortage of Ford truck mechanics across this great land, and those guys specialize in finding cost efficient solutions to typical problems. So far (knock on wood!) our truck has been a model of reliability.

So what did we decide? As our odometer clicked past 36,000 miles, we waved a fond farewell to our “bumper to bumper” warranty. While we were sorry to see it go, we were also comforted by the continuing presence of the powertrain and engine warranties.

When SEEMORE reaches 60,000 and 100,000 miles we will probably have these discussions about extended warranties again — perhaps with a different result.

Did we make the right decision? Only time will tell.

What about you? Do you buy extended service plans? If so, why? If not, why not?

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