You’ll Want an Extended Warranty After Reading This

2011 GMC Acadia

How much does peace of mind cost?

While there is no specific answer, many people use the “peace of mind” reasoning to justify purchasing a new car instead of a used one. There are simply fewer unknown factors when buying new. There are no previous owners, no potential hidden damage, no abuse and no chance the car was previously totalled. Plus, the warranty on new cars gives buyers the ability to sleep easy at night, knowing they are covered for at least a few years in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Buying used offers none of those guarantees. Even late-model used cars can suffer tremendous breakdowns and cost thousands of dollars to repair. No one knows this better than my brother, the once-proud owner of a 2007 GMC Acadia.

The Acadia was a new model from GM for the 2007 model year, replacing the aged-out GMC Envoy. After researching many used cars, my brother bought his Acadia 11 months ago. At the time of purchase, he also bought an extended-warranty insurance plan through his credit union, a decision that has saved him about $10,000 in repairs.

In the short amount of time my brother has owned his Acadia, there have been no fewer than 10 breakdowns that rendered the vehicle undriveable. The latest came on a road trip last week from Washington state to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Acadia’s transmission failed near Butte, Montana, and it has remained at a GMC dealer ever since. At last word, the vehicle will be ready on Thursday of this week. While the cost of repairs and towing are covered by that warranty, the cost of a rental car for the past week has come out of his back pocket.

Needless to say, my brother is not happy with his GMC experience and has expressed his desire to write a strongly worded letter to GM executives demanding they buy back his car. While that’s an unlikely result considering he bought the car used, his story is a strong reminder of the power of peace of mind. (While I’ve heard of similar problems with other ’07 GM trucks, it should be noted that quality has vastly improved in recent years.)

When buying used, it’s always a good idea to consider adding an extended warranty if you have the option. Most dealers offer such programs on used cars, but as with everything, be sure to shop around. Sometimes banks or credit unions can offer similar products at a reduced price.

Have you ever bought a used car that turned out to be a lemon? 

-tgriffith

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Used GMC Acadia
Used GMC Envoy

2 Comments

  1. I’ve heard of quite a few transmissions going on out on ’07-’09 GM products… I think your brother got a lemon though, if it’s been repaired as much as you say. Are there lemon laws for used cars? I don’t know. A letter to GM sure wouldn’t hurt anything!

  2. Your brother’s experience is probably not the norm. Wasn’t GM giving a 100,000 mile powertrain warranty at that time? (I think most or all of GM’s warranties automatically transfer to subsequent owners or can be transferred.) In any case, it’s never a good idea to buy ANY GM (or most manufacturers)new models in the first year of production. Most of them have a very poor record for new model reliability. Exception is Toyota/Lexus which seems to do pretty good with first year models.
    My current truck is a 2006 Trailblazer which I bought used coming off a 3-year lease. I just preemptively replaced the pads and rotors at 84,000 miles, and have replaced a few suspension parts and a water pump, testifying to the truck’s good reputation for reliability.
    I’m betting the Acadia carried one of GM’s Chinese-built transmissions. While I think the Chinese build pretty goodhammers and lawn chairs, I don’t think they are quite up to a highly complex machine like an automatic transmission.

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