Pennsylvania Auto Warranties
There is no single, one-size-fits-all answer for the question ‘Should you buy an extended warranty for your car?’ Situations differ from person to person, and state to state, so it should always be a carefully considered matter. If you live in Pennsylvania, you have an active, up-to-date regulatory environment that has based car warranty laws on the Service Contract Industry Council (SCIC) model legislation.
The state has made its position clear in the matter of extended warranties in other product areas, too. Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that is participating in the Federal Appliance Rebate Program, which encourages consumers to replace older appliances with new, energy-efficient models. The state expressly recommends a service contract, or extended warranty, with the purchases, as this has been shown to result in longer life and functionality of the appliances. The state takes the reasonable position that there are some purchases, including vehicles, that really are enhanced by the addition of an extended warranty. State agencies, however, constantly reinforce two important points.
Two things to remember
Consumer reporters, state overseers and lawyers specializing in this area of the law make two recommendations more often than any others. First, do your homework about warranties and warranty companies before you buy your new or used vehicle. Second, read (really read) every word of the warranty agreement before you sign it. If you do just these two basic things, you will reduce your chances of being ripped off to almost zero.
In Pennsylvania, you can take advantage of information that has been gathered for you by state agencies, consumer watchdogs and consumer-based Web sites. You can check out the history and solvency of warranty firms, confirm that auto dealers really do have an automaker relationship for warranty purposes and compare coverages on sample policies. There are some parts of the Pennsylvania business and professions code that differs from other states, but there are also many overlaps in some areas. Therefore, studying the laws and policies generally, as well as how they are specifically applied in Pennsylvania, will assist you in your decision making.
Your first decision, of course, is whether or not you need the extended warranty at all. If you are going to keep the car beyond its original factory warranty (or buy used), it may make good economic sense to get the warranty. Your next step, as mentioned above, is studying the available options in Pennsylvania, that is, the companies doing business there, the products and services they offer, their Better Business Bureau ratings and other historical information. The reason many people prefer automaker-connected warranties is that some third-party warranty firms have been known to go out of business, taking your policy with them into the dustbin of history.
Also remember that an extended warranty is actually a service contract (hence the model legislation proposed by the SCIC) that covers specified maintenance, repairs or both after your car’s manufacturer warranty runs out. You can buy the warranty at the dealer and from the dealer, or at any other time of your choosing from any other company you like. If you like breaking things down into two big sections, then you can divide these warranties into (1) policies sold by the automaker and (2) those sold by third parties.
No reputable firm wants to be tarred with the bad publicity of scammers and fly-by-night operators. Telemarketing got a black eye from some of the so-called boiler room operations and penny stock pushers, and the great majority of reputable extended warranty firms have been damaged by the scurrilous actions of a few ripoff artists. This is why the SCIC, which included members from the automaker-back firms as well as third-party companies, creates model state legislation to keep the industry honest and reliable.
Sure, you need to be careful. You have to do some study, some research and a whole lot of reading (including the warranties themselves, every one you want to consider). With all your preparation, you should be able to shop with security, and extended car warranties have proven to be smart (and timely) investments for many, many car owners.
You must take responsibility for yourself and prepare for the purchase of your new or used vehicle, as well as research the need for (and details about) an extended warranty. Handled correctly, you can end up with a reliable used car that is also protected against unforeseen failure. Be a smart consumer by doing your homework, reading things before you sign on the dotted line and maintaining (plus driving) your car in such a way as to minimize any problems.