I don't recall the exact numbers but the spread of the Jd powers
"quality" ratings is something like 70 to 230. Sounds like a big
spread. But it's per hundred cars. So for the ONE car YOU will buy
the difference in "quality" between them is the difference of having
perhaps only 0.7 problems in the first year versus having maybe 2.3
problems in the first year. And the "problems" being compared could
be anything from the engine blew up to "I don't like the way the radio
knob feels and the dealer can't fix it". The JD power numbers are
nearly worthless for retail buyers. If, OTOH, lots of Fiat owners are
actually finding that the engines are blowing up, that's a different
I wouldn't doubt it. Between 1972 and up till a few years ago I drove
a lot of gvt fleet cars. There was a major change right around the
late 70s where things went from me having a list of things for the
shop to fix every time I sent a car in for it's scheduled service to
the cars almost never needing anything fixed. It was pretty much
across teh board, didn't much matter what make they were buying, GM,
MoPar, AMC, Ford. By 1980 the old "here's a list of things to have
the shop fix" was a thing of the past. And most of the stuff that did
go wrong was really pretty minor, a lock motor would go bad or
something like that OR rarely a major issue fixed for free like
transmissions in Dodge Diesel 4x4s that couldn't take the torque of
the engine. And that kind of stuff isn't going to show up in the JD
Powers numbers that get all the airplay.
I'd say look at consumers reports info but it's often crap too but at
least it tracks things for real life cars for several years.
Unfortunately it suffers the same deficiency, now that everythihg is
really quite good stuff that's on the lower end of "quite good" winds
up with a black dot as if it's junk. Some of the cars CU rates are
good are crap to actually live with and drive whereas some of the
"bad" ones are quite nice to live with and drive.
I guess there's no perfect system.
Another thought on the warranty issue.... ALWAYS shop around. The
dealers push warranties THEY sell, which may be backed by the auto
maker or may just be some third party warranty. In my experience the
third party warranties the dealers push are ALWAYS way more expensive
then what you can get by just buying a warranty yourself from a
reputable company AFTER you have bought the car. The last two times
I've bought from warrantydirect.com because they have had excellent
prices AND excellent service. But I very strongly considered the
Official Chrysler Extended warranty the last time because it was only
slightly more expensive and seemed to offer just a little bit better
coverage for small stuff. But definitely, shop around for warranty
prices BEFORE you buy the car so you know what it will cost from a
company you would be wiling to buy from. Then you can compare that to
what the dealers "finance guy" will be trying to shove down your
throat when you sign all the paperwork and he's trying to sell you
more floor mats, a security alarm, paint protection, a maintained
plan, and insurance on losing your keys. If you think he's offering a
good extended warranty you can tell him you'll take it if he matches
the price for the one you already have priced out. The last time I
bought a car I thought the guys head was going to explode from all the
"No, thanks, don't need that" I told him. When I refused the alarm
and he acted like I must be crazy not to be worry about the car
getting stolen. I told him "That's why I buy car insurance!" Then he
Like anything else price IS negotiable. I tend to stay with the makers
warranty because the dealer can easily be reimbursed while a third party
allows you to take to another mechanic they will have check coverage...
An article in the paper this morning said that 55% of those with
aftermarket warranties never use them. They also state that many that
do find lots of loopholes in coverage.
The $100 a year Ashton Crusher states seems rather low, but I've not
shopped for them. Sounds rather cheap to insure a $20,000 item.
I generally agree with you but of the new cars I've bought with
extended warranties I've recouped around 80% of what I paid. So I've
really only "wasted" maybe $300 per car on average. That's spread
over at least 5 years of actual coverage when you discount the time of
the manufacturers coverage. So 300/5 is effectively only $60 a year
wasted for compete freedom from any worry of something expensive
breaking or the hassle of repairing it myself to save money. What
else could I better spend the $60 a year on.
I think it's more like $120 a year. Still chump change on a per year
basis since it eliminates any concern AND any big expenses and keeps
me from having to do the work myself, which I would without the
warranty. With it I just go to the dealer, let him call the warranty
company and it's fixed. The warranty company paid $1000 for repairs I
could have done myself for $200 if I don't pay myself anything. So I
paid $1400 for the warranty and I've already recouped $1000. If I
never have another claim I'm only out the remaining $400 and I've
still got over three more years of coverage and 40,000 miles to go. I
have no doubt that before it expires I will be getting new front
struts and any other worn out front end parts because those front
struts almost always are leaking oil by that amount of miles and as
struts they are covered, if they were just shocks they wouldn't be.
That's easily going to run $500 and I'll have recovered all my
I would guess that many people who never make a claim are the kind of
people who buy a new car every 3 years and shouldn't have bought a
warranty because the manufacturers warranty already had them covered.
But that finance guy at the dealership makes his money and bonus by
selling people stuff they don't need.... And I bet a lot of those
people don't even remember they bought an extended warranty.
If you buy vehicles with poor reliability then the extended warranty
might make sense. I have never had any vehicle where the repair costs
during the extended warranty period exceeded what the cost of the
warranty would have been.
I bought something similar to an extended warranty once. For a while, my
AAA (CSAA) was offering "All Risks" insurance which was an add-on that
covered repairs with a small deductible. I had purchased it because I
was driving a VW. I think it was $100 per year. It paid for itself big
time when I needed a new gearbox just out of warranty. There was also
one other big repair that I had done under that policy. They foolishly
did not exclude wear items other than tires. They cancelled my policy
after two repairs. They no longer offer that add-on as far as I know.
If you plan on keeping a new car after the warranty is over and are
not mechanically inclined a warranty (a GOOD one) can save your bacon
-often the dealer will allow you to buy the warranty within the first
year or two - so you can get a feel for the reliability/build quality
of the car.
In that case, rather than buying a warranty for a poor car, I'd be
more likely to sell it.
With used cars, sometimes a "good" warranty can be worth while - but a
lot of crappy used car dealers will sell you a car requiring repairs -
and a warranty - so they don't have to pay to repair the car. RUN the
I do only on cars. There are too many systems to go wrong with labor to
diagnose and repair. I can't work on them any more... You can shop
warranties but I get the Toyota one because there is no question about
reimbursement (Toyota vehicles) I have won on every one I purchased. Also
they can be canceled in case you trade with a small return to you. No
comments on Toyota reliability and no horror stories (yet) - if asked.
Most appliance warranties are along the lines of ...
$200 appliance and they want $50 for a two year warranty, 25% of the
purchase price for a lousy 2, maybe 3 years.
For a car it's ....
$20000 car and they want $1500 for a 7 year warranty, 7.5% of the
purchase price and for two to three times as long an extended warranty
that's why the only extended warranties I buy are on new cars. I've
had 4 cars with extended warranties and on some I've recovered MORE in
repair bills they paid than the warranty costs. On most I've
recovered between 50 to 80% of what the warranty cost. I've got one
that's got another 50,000 miles and 3.5 years to run. It cost me
$1500 and it's already paid for over $1000 in repairs. ..
I can't argue with the notion that I'd be saving money by not buying
them... but I think the freedom from worry about the repairs and the
cost is worth the small monthly cost, esp if something were to break
on a trip out of town. Plus, without the warranty I'd wind up fixing
the stuff myself, this way I don't need to for the newer cars which
leaves me time to fix the stuff myself on the old cars I have.
Here's another perspective.... If you could negotiate away the normal
factory warranty, lets say it's 3 years, 36,000 miles, how much would
you want the dealer to knock off the price of the car in exchange for
"no warranty/as is" out the door for your new car? $1000, $2000,
Peace of mind is worth something but thr question is how much? . I just
look at past history. The last three cars I've owned over 9 years were
traded inside of the power train warranty and just a bit out of the
entire warranty. I paid $250 for one brake job. The rest was tires and
The 3/36 is really a crappy warranty. I have 5/100 powertrain and 5/60
for everything else.
Warranty companies are in business to make a profit. They take a little
money from a lot of people and then give some back for repairs and keep
the rest. Thank you for your contribution. It is a bit of a gamble.
Terrible advice, except if you only keep a car a few years then there's
probably not much of a down side in buying a vehicle with poor long term
There are not only large quality difference in new cars when new, some
cars age poorly and some age well. Some have known design flaws which
require expensive repairs after the warranty has expired. Some have wear
items that are extremely expensive to replace.
I.e. my friend with a Mini Cooper is unwilling to let her sons drive her
car because they aren't experienced at driving a stick shift, even
though they know how. Replacing the clutch on the Mini Cooper is about
$2000 at the dealer, and even when it's under warranty they will insist
that failure was due to "aggressive" driving and say that it is not
covered by the warranty.
Late 1990's and early 2000's Hondas had automatic transmission issues
and while many of them were eventually covered by recall campaigns,
initially Honda insisted that there was no issue (the old "no one else
has experienced this issue").
Some vehicles do poorly in terms of initial quality but actually last a
very long time once the initial issues are resolved. I cursed my VW
Rabbit for the first few years but sold it with 175K miles on it eight
years later, and unlike Hondas of that era, the paint wasn't all peeling
off! Could have probably convinced someone that it was really only 75K
miles (back then there were only five digit odometers).
I hesitate to buy brands of vehicles where there aren't a lot of dealers
around because we tend to go on road trips through and to areas where
you're unlikely to find dealers for the less common brands. Even smaller
areas will have Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Chevrolet dealers, but are less
likely to have Mazda, Subaru, Volvo, Mini, Fiat, Nissan, Chrysler, BMW,
Kia, Hyundai, etc., dealers.
Our current fleet has a 19 year old Toyota, a 14 year old Toyota, and 8
year old Toyota, and a 1 year old Toyota.
Regarding Fiat, friend of mine bought one last year, top model brand
new. It ran good for less than 3 months then started dying unexpectedly
any where, luckily it happened in parking lots. Just dead, no cranking,
nothing. It happened 3 times in next 3 months, they towed the car,
whatever they did, it works again for next same episode. Good thing it
was summer time. After experiencing same thing over and over, he
demanded them to buy back the car and they did without too much fuss.
Now he has Honda Fit which is darn good little car. Not interested in
small cars like Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic? even KIA Soul?
I had one of the early Audis. You carried a set of plug wires in the
trunk. About every 15000 miles the car wouldn't start. Change the wires
and you were good to go. It wasn't a graceful degradation, it just
wouldn't start all of a sudden. My wife got the Audi out of the divorce
and I kept the Lincoln. I sometimes feel bad doing that to her but she
eventually got a few hundred bucks trading it in on a Rabbit. Audi makes
some nice looking cars and they must have gotten their act together
since they're still in business. V
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