Before you buy an extended warranty for your car, make sure you read the fine print

Do they actually last as long as you expect?


When you buy a used car, the salesman these days almost always pitches an extended warranty.

And they can be a good idea, given that a car repair can cost from $500 for a fuel pump to $3,000 for a transmission.

But one man discovered a big catch with some of these plans: they don't last as long as you would think.

Wants seven years of protection

Josh Eisele recently found a great deal on a three-year-old, gently used Honda Civic.

"It has only 19,000 miles on it right now,"  Eisele said.

The salesman suggested he buy Honda Care, a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty direct from the manufacturer, the best type you can buy.

"It covers everything that the original warranty covers and then some," Eisele said. "I am pretty sure he told me it was good for seven years from that date, the date we were talking."

So he agreed to pay $1,200 for seven years and 100,000 miles of hassle-free coverage.

But when Honda mailed him his "Honda Care" paperwork, Eisele discovered a problem.

"It was only good from the year the car was originally purchased, so it was only four years, not seven years," Eisele said.

Confusion over starting date

This is a common complaint with extended warranties, because there is a lot of confusion on when the warranty actually starts

Eisele says he was specific with the salesman: He wanted coverage for the full six years of his loan.

"He said, 'That's great, we can offer you this, it will cover the term of your loan,' and he sold me on it," Eisele recalled.

But it turns out many manufacturer extended warranties -- not just Honda's -- start from the original in-service date and expire at 100,000 miles. It is extremely rare for a warranty you purchase at the time of the sale to extend past 100,000 miles.

We spoke with the general manager at Eisele's Honda dealership, who said the salesman may not have clearly explained Honda Care, which led to a misunderstanding.

However, after the dealer learned we were getting involved, he agreed to add another year of coverage free of charge.

Bottom line: Read the fine print and ask tough questions when buying an extended warranty.

And get all the dates in writing, so you don't waste your money.

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