ANDY'S CONSUMER TIP OF THE DAY: extended warranties for vehicles

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South and I are tracking a resurgence of sales calls and mailers offering third-party extended warranties on vehicles. They're harassment, plain and simple, and coming up on WMC Action News 5 at 5 p.m., we're investigating how these obnoxious third-parties are getting your personal and vehicle information.

To get you ready for that story, you should know I have rarely supported extended warranties -- any extended warranty -- on cars and trucks. The point is you should research and buy a dependable car in the first place, right?

Manufacturer's warranties -- the typical 3-year, 36,000-mile ones that come with your new car purchase -- absolutely. Those are fine. But my experience is extended warranties rarely live up to their name. They often fail to "extend" much of the coverage you enjoy under the manufacturer's warranty, or they overlap your manufacturer's coverage.

Atlanta-based consumer advocate Clark Howard said if you must consider an extended warranty on a vehicle:

* CONSIDER ONLY ONES SOLD BY THE MANUFACTURER OR BY YOUR INSURANCE AGENT. It should actually extend -- like its name implies -- your manufacturer's warranty coverage or at least add new protections beyond three years and 36,000 miles.

* NO THIRD-PARTIES. Howard said third-party warranty companies are flighty. Sometimes, they go out of business before they can pay your claim.

* PRICE IS NEGOTIABLE. Bet you didn't know that! Howard recommended getting a quote from your car's manufacturer or dealer, then get another from your insurance agent. Compare them and work them against each other.

I don't like extended warranties for used vehicles, either -- unless they are included in a dealer's certified used car program. Those often include warranties that are backed directly by the dealer, instead of some risky third-party.

Come back to these tips after you see my third-party extended warranty investigation at 5. I appreciate you watching!

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