When you buy a new car, it’ll come with a manufacturer’s warranty for a certain period of time or number of miles. Once that limit has been reached, you’re on your own for car maintenance. Car care plans are one way you can extend the warranty and manage everyday maintenance expenses. But they’re not always the best answer.

What are car care plans?

Car care plans are another kind of insurance for your wheels. Also known as extended service warranties or car care plan warranties, they come in many different levels of cover. Essentially, it’s a way of pre-paying and spreading the cost of your car maintenance. Usually, extended car warranties cover regular servicing at a manufacturer’s franchised dealership.

Some car care plans will also provide cover for additional maintenance, but you’ll need to pay more for these sorts of policies. Once a car care plan has been entered into, all work on your car will need to be done by approved mechanics – even if it’s not covered by your plan. Usually, this means taking your car to a franchised dealership. If you choose an independent garage or do any work yourself, you’ll invalidate your car care plan.

Do car care plans make maintenance easier and cheaper?

The short answer is ‘sometimes’. That’s because it depends on the level of cover you have for your car care and what that plan covers. Comprehensive car care plans may sound like they have your back for everything, but you’ll need to check the fine print. In some instances, a comprehensive level of care won’t include any additional work that is discovered during routine maintenance.

In addition to this, car maintenance work from a franchised dealership is often quite a bit more expensive than the same work through an independent garage. You’ll miss out on the stamp in your car servicing booklet, but you’ll have more pounds in your pocket when choosing a good independent mechanic. Keep the receipts from an independent garage and you’ll still be able to provide a full service history when it comes time to sell your car.

If choosing a basic level car care plan, it’s entirely conceivable that you could end up paying out for additional maintenance for your car anyway. On the other hand, if unexpected car maintenance costs cause you to break out in a sweat, car care plans are worth considering.

Can any car be covered with an extended service warranty?

Whether or not you can take out an extended service warranty for your car depends on a couple of factors. The make and model of your car should influence the kind of car care plans you consider – luxury vehicles can benefit from higher levels of cover. Similarly, if you have a basic small car, a basic car care plan can ease the financial burden of maintenance costs. If you own a classic car, you’d be better off looking into tailored policies for your baby.

The age of your car will also play a big part in the kind of cover you can get for car maintenance. Older cars tend to be ineligible for car care plans. If your wheels are ten years old or even older, you’ll find it difficult to obtain an extended warranty for her. Most car care plans are for vehicles that are under ten years, but a few insurance providers offer plans for cars up to 12 years old.

How to choose a car care plan

Deciding on the right extended car warranty can be time-consuming but it’s worth making the effort if you decide a car care plan is right for you. There’s no point paying for a car care plan only to find out the cover doesn’t give you what you need!

Start out by checking the coverage options. The more policy options a car care plan provider has the more likely you are to find a policy to suit your needs and car.

Check out the sample contracts. As with all insurance, it’s important to understand the main points and the finer details of car care plans. Check for details about additional work, if you are committing to specific dealerships for the work and if breakdown assistance will invalidate your care plan.

Background check the insurer and dealership offering car care plans. It’s easy to get caught out with a dodgy car care plan provider who takes your payment and disappears when it’s time to deliver on their end of the deal. Look for the number of years they’ve been operating, car care plan reviews from other policyholders and reputable underwriters like QBE and Lloyds.

Car care plans can be a great way of making sure your wheels are kept ship-shape and safe for you and your passengers. They’re not always necessary though and if you have a great independent mechanic or know how to take care of your car’s basic maintenance, it’s probably not the best way to spend your money.

If you do plan to extend your car warranty or cover a new to you used car with a care plan, make sure you do your homework. Check through a number of car care plans to select the best one. Make sure it’s from a credible provider and that the underwriter is a stable and reputable one.

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