If you're buying a used car, you may consider an extended warranty. True, some extended warranties aren't good investments. But many shoppers enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having a warranty on a car -- especially one that's getting older. If that's you, we've provided a few pointers to help you distinguish the good warranties from the bad ones.

Don't Expect Too Much

Many shoppers are dismayed to discover there is a lot that even the best extended warranties don't cover. That can include brake pads, brake rotors, light bulbs, oil changes, clutches and upholstery. But when you look at what a warranty doesn't cover, remember that many new car warranties don't include these items either. Most of these items are considered "wearable" and won't be included on any warranty, new or used.

Make Sure It Covers the Big Items

The most important consideration on any extended warranty is to make sure it covers the items most likely to break and most costly to fix. The biggest items, of course, are the vehicle's engine and transmission. Any warranty that doesn't cover these likely isn't worth much.

The engine and transmission aren't the only potentially costly items, though. Make sure your warranty covers major suspension components. It's nice to also have a warranty that covers electrical features, such as air conditioning or a navigation system. That's especially true if you get a high-end car with a lot of equipment.

Exclusionary Warranties Are Better

Two types of extended warranties are usually available: inclusionary and exclusionary. We strongly recommend exclusionary warranties, as they're more comprehensive. Usually, they list precisely what they don't cover, while inclusionary warranties only cover the mentioned items.

Search for the Warranty Company

Before you buy any warranty, we highly recommend a few online searches for the warranty company. While there are bound to be angry customers for any product, more than a few bad reviews can be a red flag to consider a product from a different seller.

If you keep these tips in mind as you consider an extended warranty, it's likely you'll have a good warranty experience if you ever run into maintenance problems down the line.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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