QUESTION: Do You Buy Extended Warranties?

author image

May 10, 2009

Extended warranties — to buy or not to buy? That is the question.

Although our travel trailer has no motor, our tow vehicle has an enormous monster of a diesel heart beating in its chest. We’ve repeatedly been told two truths about diesels: (1) they are wonderfully durable and rarely encounter mechanical problems; (2) if something does happen to go wrong, they are horribly expensive to repair.

We received a notice in the mail from Ford with a helpful, albeit somewhat frightening, reminder: “WARNING! YOUR WARRANTY EXPIRES AT 36,000 MILES!”

Yes, the mileage on SEEMORE’s odometer read an ominous 35,500. We were facing that inevitable decision of whether to buy Ford’s $2000 Extended Service Plan, which would grant us an additional four years of “bumper to bumper” coverage up to 100,000 miles.

“Get the warranty,” a friend advised. “It will pay for itself.”

But other friends drew the exact opposite conclusion.

“Those extended warranty plans are always in the favor of the factory,” one friend countered. “I’ve never bought one in my life.”

At first glance, I was convinced we should purchase the warranty. How much is one’s peace of mind worth? (To Ford, it’s worth $2000.) But then I started reading the fine print. It turns out that our truck is actually covered by THREE warranties, only ONE of which expires at the 36,000 mile mark.

While the “bumper to bumper” coverage expires at 36,000 miles, the powertrain (transmission, etc.) is covered for 60,000 miles. And the diesel engine? It’s covered by warranty for a reassuring 100,000 miles.

To confuse matters further, there are different “extended service plans” available for purchase from Ford. The cheaper plans allow for a higher per visit deductible. The more expensive plans have a lower deductible, with the lowest being $50. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of warranty choices. But in the end, you may decide that the best choice is no warranty whatsoever.

After all, with an extended warranty, you’re not only betting that something will go wrong, but that whatever goes wrong will cost more than the warranty cost. If the warranty was two hundred bucks it would be a no brainer. But it’s two THOUSAND bucks, and that much cash will buy an awful lot of parts and service from independent mechanics.

Yes, when considering a diesel engine and accompanying powertrain, it’s not hard to imagine repair bills that extend into the thousands of dollars. But for the “bumper to bumper” items like air-conditioning and the radio? Usually those can be handled independently on a cost effective basis. There’s no shortage of Ford truck mechanics across this great land, and those guys specialize in finding cost efficient solutions to typical problems. So far (knock on wood!) our truck has been a model of reliability.

So what did we decide? As our odometer clicked past 36,000 miles, we waved a fond farewell to our “bumper to bumper” warranty. While we were sorry to see it go, we were also comforted by the continuing presence of the powertrain and engine warranties.

When SEEMORE reaches 60,000 and 100,000 miles we will probably have these discussions about extended warranties again — perhaps with a different result.

Did we make the right decision? Only time will tell.

What about you? Do you buy extended service plans? If so, why? If not, why not?

Leave a Reply


  1. matt – – jeff shelton – Scam artists San
    Diego , California 1-800-939-2806

    My grandparents purchased an rv extended warranty from this company and were
    completely taken advantage of. The warranty was misrepresented at the time of
    purchase and my grandparents did not receive the coverage they were promised
    when they needed it the most. I would NEVER recommend this company to anyone
    else. Their customer service is nonexistent and they offer no support. Complete

  2. JAMES

    I bought an extended warranty through, back in Aug 2010. After I got rid of my RV, I inquired about getting a prorated refund since when I first bought the RV warranty they said it was fully transferable and refundable. As of today, I haven’t received a refund.

    I guess a sucker is born everyday, and unfortunately it was my turn. Anyone have any ideas/suggestions on how I and others might proceed to recover their losses from this obvious scam?

  3. After I origіnally left a cοmmеnt ӏ appеar tο have clicked the -Notifу me when neω сomments are added- checkbox and from now
    on evеry time a comment is adԁеd I gеt 4 emaіls with
    the samе comment. Thеre haѕ to be
    a way yοu агe able to remove me fгom that
    seгvice? Appгeciate it!

  4. Pingback: Homepage

  5. Pingback: url

  6. Penny Norris

    Easy Care Extended Warranty – a $2,000 Service Contract Rip-Off.

    September 2007, we purchased 2006 Laredo RV 5th wheel from a long time RV dealer in Rancho Cordova. We were offered a RV Service Contract for service/repairs. The amount of the contract was $2,055. Since purchasing the RV, we have had to have it in for repairs twice. The first time was only months after purchase for the repair of shackles on the leaf springs. The dealer sent the claim to “Easy Care” Insurance Company which denied the claim. In August 2010, we again took our 5th wheel in again to repair a hole in the fresh water tank. The insurance company “Easy Care” again denied our claim for repair. They stated that it was a manufacturer defect that our contract did not cover. The repair will cost us out of pocket $2,000. We have examined the contract agreement and do not see that our claim should have been denied. All of this sounds rather fishy. I am sure there are other unknowing and unhappy customers that have been taken advantage of by Easy Care. What good is a service contract if you can not use it? We see this as a $4,055 rip-off, $2,055 for the contract and $2,000 out-of-pocket for 2nd repair. Read your extended contract well and by all means do not sign with Easy Care.

  7. Craig

    I pay about $35 a month for the Good Sam ESP on my 31′ 2006 Fleetwood Wilderness, and I was glad I did when both the A/C and water heater failed on the same trip. With no hassles or problems with approvals, both were fixed after paying one $100 deductable. I would have had to pay over $2500.

    Here is the link for what Good Sam ESP Covers:

    On the other hand, I was going to but an extended warranty for my 2004 F-250 Deisel, until I read the fine print. It basically said that if I couldn’t prove I had completed all of the manufacture’s recommended periodic services, they wouldn’t cover any repairs. Also, I read numerous product reviews on that company and several more and was astounded at the number of rejected claims.

    Good Sam also offers an ESP for cars, trucks and SUVs, I am going to check it out and see if it is as good as their camper one.

  8. Thanks Jim for sharing your experience. Wow! It sounds like your extended warranty saved you a bundle. I’m glad to hear that you had a positive experience with Good Sam.

  9. Jim Giffin

    I have not been a fan of extended warrentiees but thanks goodness I purchased the Good Sam Extended Service Plan. I purchased my class A 2005 Damon Intruder in March 2008 with 14,500 miles. The original three year manufacturers warranty expired June 6, 2008. On June 16 (14.952 miles) while returning from Myrtle Beach SC at a speed of 50 MPH my engine locked up due to the crankshaft breaking in half. The total cost to replace the engine and all components exceeded $12,000 , the CSP paid $10,000 of the bill. No one has been able to tell me why or what caused the crankshaft to break. It was an exciting ride tryiing to find a place to land my motor home when everthing stops working on a narrow two lane high way in traffic. Before I finish my story I must thank Larry and Darren at Larry’s garage located at Myrtle Beach for the excellent service and workmanship they provided in getting my motor home repaired. I must also say thanks to Work horse for volunteering to provide a free short bock even tho it was out of warranty.

  10. GMAs

    ahhhh yes… well click… click right back… grin… but, your emotional state of mind??? hmmm we do the hand flip flop thing when we are in the face of indecision… when others ask how its going. ( I was wondering if she was doing it to put timer marks on your video… grin) From the questions she was asking and the answers she was hearing… sounds like she was not happy with the responses either… (right now the internet and phone spam is loaded with rip off extended warranties)….

    Look your engine is like a light bulb… how long will it last… before it burns out? flip-flop… depends on how well you drive it and take care of it. Doing a survey of how long the last and what the cost to keep ’em going … is a big loaded question based on how they drive it… and maintain it. Diesels are not your fathers gas engine of old… and they take a special kinda of driver to get the most mileage out of ’em.

    That being said… with 64,000 miles… almost sound familar to a game show… question… you should not be stressed about the life of the enigne .. yet… as you have found … it is covered by the manufacture… a pain to get fixed … yes but they will eventually fix it…

    Most of the people we know who push them around don’t go back to ford or GM to have it worked on… instead they go to a specialist who knows the engine and like a good neighbor they are direct and effecent in getting you back on the road… they have to be… or else they won’t be in business long… so one might consider that also. (knowing a few good friends that have similar engines.. who know good mechanics)

    So bottom line is… what goes out at what mileage …. on a average… and what is the replacement cost of those items vs. the cost of the extended warr… and deduct along with service fees and handling cost… (most will say put your wallet back in your pocket and only take it out when something breaks… as we do that same way)

    But, like going to vegas… you can’t get insurance on the money you would lose… or try to get back… so why do you think anything mechanical is going to be the same? Eventually it all will wear out… (except for kristies’…. clicking pen.. oh and Krisite… least we not forget… not that she would… My X keeps reminding me…about the life contract warrentee… nag nag nag… that only sudden death … will make my demise blissful… and that I am to take the mutt with me.. when I go… lucky I don’t believe in life hereafter… so I can then rest in peace… actually she is a good egg… only has one little fracture in it though…which is better than some that are hard boiled… grin)

    Do you buy insurance on your cell phone breaking? on the (what do you call that wegi weight board?) nada.. because the cost of replacement is cheaper… (good wives are not… well… flip flop)

    So sleep well my friend… watch what your eat and don’t sign any sudden life insurance forms… That clicking pen trick might be a good way to know if your in the dog house with fido for the night too when you walk in… In my case she puts the saddle and all the cloths out in front of the trailer door… I keep asking if she has any native american in her … but she said no… The dog and I became good friends for a couple of days… he had to or else… he gets to go live with the cat… and when you mention that he starts to growl…

    As to extended warrentiees … I think you will find it cheaper to ” fix or repair daily”… the old horse… than hope someone will do it for you… rule says you don’t get something for nothing… and rule also says no free rides…

    by the way… been looking at toy haulers… as the old AS is getting OLD… too… am I bad…

  11. There’s actually an option to extend one’s warranty on the diesel ENGINE to 200k miles. I figure that these engines are pretty rock solid (people routinely get 250,000+ miles on’ em), so it’s a good bet for the factory. At the same time, IF something goes badly wrong, the warranties offer reasonable protection for the consumer. Thankfully, we have 64,000 miles to go until we make that decision.

    Oh yeah, Kristy says her pen clicking was “a special sound effect intended to convey my emotional state of mind in the face of indecision.” But I say she was just clicking to be clicking… 😉

  12. GMAs

    Yes but Sean…my good friend and fellow Cemenatphographer… (say that 10 times correctly and you win a duck) you notice that I don’t drive a diesel truck any more… as the cost of repairs are just too darn high. Knowing that… you own one … and as the add goes.. you got it To…..a.

    I don’t believe any extended warranty is much good for keeping out of the poor house once it gets over the factory /manufact’rs policy.

    Bottom line is… they wouldn’t make enough money to stay in business after the 100K … (did I remind you that is why we don’t drive a diesel…grin) click.. click

  13. Ah, but GMAs, my old friend… weren’t you the fellow who only last week was warning me of extraordinarily high diesel engine repair costs? It seems like a quality extended warranty would bring peace of mind to the intrepid diesel owner… 😀


    We purchased a 2006 GEORGETOWN XL in JUNE 2007 part of the purchase was a extended warranty with ROUTE 66, So far we have been more than satisfied with this coverage but that may soon change as our RV is in the shop right now after a engine AC clutch froze up snapping the serpentine belt, ROUTE 66 dont want to pay for the BELT, RECIEVER/DRYER and one hour LABOR so we will have to hash this out after RV is finished. All these items are supposed to be covered under our PLAN- We might have more to say later- JOHN B.

  15. In response to Roger’s comment above, Good Sam Extended Service Plan (ESP) has one of the most comprehensive plans today, and covers much more than just the fridge, generator, AC, furnace & water pump. If you need help in understanding the coverages, feel free to contact us. Our contact info is available on our website at

    Also, I would highly recommend you review your diesel warranty because it is a limited warranty covering only those components made by the diesel manufacturer. Those diesel components that ARE covered are painted a special color. Any items not of that color are not covered. This is standard on all diesel engines.

  16. Robbie

    Sean. These are NOT “bumper to bumper” “warranties”. These are exclusionary ins. policys. I have an ’08 FW Providence DP. I bot every “real” extended warranty from the manufacturer of each individual component that offered them. i.e., for my Dometic 1420 fridge, it came w/a 3 year factory warranty. I bot their extended warranty for 3 more years,(a total of 6 years) for just $245.00. 2 more years from Onan,(for a total of 5 years) on their 8 KW gen-set for another $375.00. Remember, these are all from the original manufacturers, NOT a 3rd party, off-shore, fly by night outfit. You won’t regret not buying that policy, just remember to sock away a little xtra cash, from time to time, for the unexpected. Good luck, and keep the interesting blogs coming. Robbie

  17. GMAs

    Don’t you believe it…. Ford does not offer the extended warrantee.. instead it is through a 3rd party. This was one of the reasions we got rid of the diesel truck and went to the early one we have now. It didn’t cover things like the transmission clutch pack.. but did the transmission pump. (basically anything that wears out from use is NOT covered.. yet other things that are worthless and cheap are… that direct from fords good extended warrantee )

    When we got done putting the dollar mount togeather.. we could have paid for the parts and forgot the warranty. Never again.

    Your truck is covered through the 100k miles due to the EPA requirment that they maintain it through its life… (they still figure 100K ones useful life of the vheicle even though its a diesel truck.. which tells you something) So with the important parts covered why get more insurance?

    Indeed you will find some that sleep better at night knowing their rigs are covered over but the ones that get ’em fixed using the extended warrantee are a exception to the norm. Most get hit with a great big “Other” bill which is a rip off. The cheap insurance is to plan and drive with care.. so one doesn’t have to go see the repair shop… other things in the rig that eventually need replacement are old tech and new upgrades the unit.. after all they quit making the old one anyway in todays manufactur’n huh..

    Sorry as some would think… the reality is .. no free ride… and you don’t get free things… someone has to pay… and they are looking at U.

    By the way… clicking pins are easy to hear in videos… grin… Kristie

  18. I really don’t know WHAT to expect with regard to a potential GM bankruptcy and warranty claims. It’s hard to believe that millions of consumers could be left stranded with no warranty, but these days I guess anything is possible.

    I did the math on our Ford extended warranty, and it came out to cost about $1.35 a day (assuming an additional 4 years of coverage). When you look at it in those terms, it seems pretty reasonable. Although we passed on the “bumper to bumper” extended warranty for our truck, I will take a second look when the powertrain and engine warranties begin to expire.

  19. We bought a 2004 Ford F-250 V-10 second hand with 56,000 miles on it and bought the extended warrenty because we knew we would be headed west for the winter and felt safer knowing we had coverage on it. We made it out with no problem, but a few days later as I sat at a stop light all kinds of noises and shaking started happening. I was only about a mile from the campground so I limped her home. My husband checked it out under the hood and discovered that the alternator had blown out,literally! We called our trusty Ford dealer back home and asked if it was covered and he said yes, he even went on line to find the nearest Ford dealer and even the towing charges were covered. Needless to say that even with the deductible we were glad we had the coverage and we still have over 30,000 miles left on the warrenty. I probably wouldn’t do it on a new rig, but since we had no idea the previous owners’ maintenance habits we thought it would be worth it. Just the work and towing on that alone was almost $700 we didn’t have to come up with at a difficult time.

  20. Thomas Becher

    I bought the extended warrentee from chev for about $2200. I have 37000 miles on it so the standard warrentee is done. Now? how long is GM going to be in business and who will honor the warrentee if they go bankrupt? Hope I never hae to find out

  21. Roger

    We bought our Class C last March. Looked seriously at an Extended Warantee from Good Sam. The price of $650 for 4 years coverage with a $500 deductable seemed OK till I read the details of the policy.
    The bottom line was that the only thing covered was the Fridge, Generator, AC, Furnace & water pump.
    A quick check showed that if I considered the $500 deductable I could fix just about anything except the generator for something like $500.
    I checked and Onan will sell a an extended warantee for just the generator. Since the Gen already has 3 year coverage I will consider it next year.
    Oh yes the chassis is covered 5year 50k so all I was getting was coverage on the Generator after all the exclusions such as wireing, plumbing etc.

  22. Bill Daines

    I purchased the extended warrenty for my Holiday Rambler at the time of purchase last year, now HR is no longer, yes pros and cons but its now worth more than what I paid for it! I had a wall mounted light that the on off switch got stuck and shorted out melting the wires and yellowing the wall, if not for smelling rubber burning it would have been worse, now the warrenty will be used. BD

  23. Ray Palandri

    I rarely buy extended warranties. If I had bought extended warranties for ever car I ever bought, I could have paid cash for several more cars. I like to take care of my vehicles and have rarely had to replace anything major in the vehicles lifetime. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’d rather be lucky than good any time.

  24. Vulpine, I’m glad to hear you had a good experience with your extended warranty. A couple of other benefits you received: (1) peace of mind during travel (2) increased resale value.

    Some friends of mine just bought a pre-owned Lexus sedan. They chose to buy the particular car in question because it was covered by an extended warranty. Without the warranty they would’ve kept on shopping…

  25. Tim, it sounds like we are in similar situation with regard to our diesel trucks.

    One upside of the extended “bumper to bumper” warranty is that it would increase coverage of the transmission from 60k to 100,000 miles. Strangely, it doesn’t seem like Ford offers a way to make that decision once you pass the 36k mark. You can’t extend the tranny warranty by itself, although you CAN extend the diesel engine warranty by itself (all the way up to 200,000 miles).

    Anyway, we just passed the 36k mark, so no more “bumper to bumper” for us! We’ll see what happens…

  26. Honestly, there’s a lot to consider when looking at an “Extended Service Contract.” Not least of which is the question of whether or not you will benefit from it. While I don’t buy every contract that’s offered, I do buy some. It really depends on the perceived value of the contract.

    Let’s say, for instance, that you’re buying a brand new car or truck. In my own case, I’m going to use my 2002 Saturn Vue as an example. Saturn, like Ford trucks, had managed to develop a pretty good reputation as a reliable brand. However, the Vue was a brand-new model and 2002 was its introductory year. Anyone remember the Pontiac Fiero? In this case, I purchased the extended contract because I didn’t really know what to expect.

    For 3 years (and well over the factory 36,000 miles) I started to believe the extra cash was wasted, the only unexpected repair being the replacement of the clutch pedal and spring ($400). However, somewhere around 75,000 miles, small things started to happen. The right McPherson strut failed ($800), the BCU (body control computer) failed ($400), the ECU (Engine control computer) failed ($600). Finally, of all things, the rear wiper motor failed ($200). All in all, I ended up saving myself about $400 over a 5-year period by paying $2000 in advance. Not a lot, but it did add up to a 20% savings compared to not having the contract. It’s a gamble and the warranty provider knows it.

    It’s really up to you. A diesel engine is an almost-unkillable machine–but when it does go, it ain’t cheap. I’ve seen even big-rig drivers go almost bankrupt over getting one of those commercial diesels fixed; mostly because they’re in a rush and are forced to pay a premium for quick service. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a Service Contract is for you. In all honesty, the more you use something, the longer it’s likely to last. If you’re full-timing and are putting decent mileage on the engine, then maybe you’re good. But if the engine only gets loaded a couple times a month, there’s a chance that something will let go. Just like your old VCR, if you don’t play a tape in it at least once a week, something inside is going to stretch or warp and stop working just when you really need it.

    In summary, take a look at how you use the engine. If it gets steady, relatively long-term use (50-100 miles or more under load) then you may not need the contract. But if it only gets really worked on an occasional basis or for very short runs that don’t really let it warm up to operating temperatures and ‘soak,’ then there’s a reasonable chance of breakdown.

    You decide.

  27. Yes, I have an extended warranty on my 5th wheel. After 3 years–it has paid for itself and I have 4 year left! Good Deal! I usually do not buy extended warranties but this as an exception. On my F350–I passed on the bumper to bumper extended warranty. And yes – after a little reading–I found out the engine warranty goes to 100,000. We are at 48K so lots of miles to go on the diesel. I am waiting before I will cross that bridge on the engine warranty.

  28. Henry Sherwood

    Buy one yes, but be very careful which one you choose. I have had both
    Very Bad and good experances with third party warrenty companies.

  29. John Shelton

    Typically, I do not buy extended warranties. ABSOLUTELY, I NEVER buy extended warranties from third parties. If the manufacturer of a product has enough confidence in their product to offer an extended warranty for a fee that covers their clerical costs associated with any claims, I may consider that (MAY CONSIDER); otherwise – ain’t gonna happen here!

    Fly-by-night 3rd party warranty scams are far in the majority over legitimate ones. Even the legitimate ones exclude everything that is likely to produce a failure and place undue restrictions on claimants to the point that even they are not worth the troubles. “Prior approval”, for instance, doesn’t just mean call the insurer and request an authorization to “repair a fried engine”. Every part, every step must be authorized and most often there are disputes between parties involved even after every step has been followed precisely. (“We didn’t authorize new oil filters. ” – – “Well, what did you expect us to do; reuse the old ones? “)

    I never have and never will purchase third party warranties. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

  30. RoadScribe

    After being scammed once on the sale of an extended warranty for my 5’er I soon learned that warranty is code word for: Paying in advance. Why not plan in advance by saving money in a savings account or separate checking account. This is called Self Warranty. Another point I found once the warranty expired on my coach, the work done by techs, other than where that warranty specified me to go to, was of better quality, with better parts. In other words, issues were resolved that were a constant problem while under warranty.
    Final point to remember: A warranty is only as good as long as the company stays in business.