The Case for Extended Warranties on Used Cars
Buying a used Audi seemed like a great idea at the time.
I found the 2008 Q7 on a dealer’s lot and used the CarGurus price analysis tool to determine that the car was a good value. I was smitten with the Audi’s color, strong stance, room for 7 people and pre-installed roof racks. The car was everything I needed, and I was able to negotiate a price significantly lower than the asking amount.
With 88,000 miles on the clock, I figured I had some time before things started going wrong. I was correct in that now I have 98,000 miles and a repair bill that is making me second-guess my choice.
In all fairness, the biggest problem isn’t the fault of Audi or the dealer who sold the car. It’s my own fault for using the cupholders that were placed directly above the center console. Turns out, all it takes is one flailing kid’s knee and a full cup of iced tea to take out all audio and electronic car setup features Audi has to offer.
Then last week, on a toasty 97-degree afternoon, my air conditioning wouldn’t blow. I tried everything and, while the display showed the temperature set to a cool 69 degrees, no air came from the vents. Twenty minutes and 3 gallons of sweat later, the fan turned on along with a sound inside the dash that might as well have been a dying squirrel.
To top it all off, I’d been driving around for the last 6 months or so with a taillight out. The same light went out just after I purchased the car, which the dealer kindly replaced at no cost. Trouble is, the light went out again a week later and has been dark ever since.
While at the dealer for an oil change, I asked about all of these items. The center console is not repairable and can be replaced for just $700. The blower motor is going out and can be replaced, also for $700. The taillight, which should be a simple $5 fix, will take more investigation, because replacing the light bulbs didn’t work. My technician suspects a problem somewhere in the electrical system and would need more diagnostic time to figure it out.
None of these issues are major, and the car runs and drives as though it’s only gone 20,000 miles.
I politely passed on all repairs and drove out of there intent on figuring these issues out on my own. I already found a blower motor online for $160, which will probably be my first project. Listening to the radio might have to wait a few months!
During all of this, my wife asked if there’s anything that can be done for a buyer of a used car that starts experiencing a lot of problems. The answer, unless a used car warranty is in place, is no.
The lesson here for used car shoppers is to be careful with used cars approaching 100,000 miles. If it’s an option, I highly recommend buying an extended warranty. Had I made that wise decision, it would have already paid for itself.
Have you experienced any problems after buying a used car?