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How Your Extended Warranty Covers “Service Engine Soon” Alerts

BY: Chris Brown
Mother and soon looking into a car engine

Having an extended warranty for your vehicle is always a recommended investment. The annual cost of car ownership is only ever on the increase, but having a warranty watching your back can save you some serious money in the face of unexpected component failure.

Every driver knows that breakdowns happen at the worst possible moment, and they can leave you stranded at the roadside hundreds of miles from home. With coverage from a quality provider, however, you’ll be towed to the auto shop of your choice, and (providing the component in question is protected by your plan) the bills will be covered when you get there.

Sometimes, you don’t need to wait until your car’s broken down to take advantage of your warranty coverage. New cars have advanced onboard computers that can accurately predict when parts are about to fail and warn you ahead of time. We’ll take a look at “Service Engine Soon” warning lights, their meaning, and how your extended warranty covers them.

What Is an Extended Warranty, and Why Should I Have One?

For those new to the world of extended auto coverage, it’s worth us taking some time to explain the benefits. But to give you the full picture of their money-saving potential, we should go right back to the beginning.

Any brand-new vehicle that rolls off the production line comes with a guarantee from the manufacturer that no parts will fail due to fault within a predetermined number of years/miles traveled after purchase. This is known as a factory warranty (or a manufacturer warranty), and how long it lasts will completely depend on the automaker and car model (with some being more generous than others). If there’s anything you can be sure of, all good things must come to an end. And when they do, you, as the owner, will be fully responsible for future repair bills.

If you’d like to continue enjoying the level of protection that you’re used to, there are two routes you can go down.

The first route is a traditional extended warranty, usually purchased via a dealership or directly from your manufacturer. This does exactly what the name implies and extends your warranty coverage beyond the expiry date. There are some major drawbacks to this option, however. For starters, it’s the most expensive. You’re also tied to dealerships when you need car repairs, which isn’t ideal if you break down hundreds of miles from one. To make matters worse, you must purchase an extended warranty while your factory warranty is still active. Apply just a single day late, and you’ll no longer qualify.

Because of this, most people prefer to opt for a second route: a vehicle service contract or auto protection plan from a third-party provider. Third parties are incentivized to offer almost as comprehensive coverage for an even better price. They don’t require you to have an active factory warranty to sign up (which is great news for used car owners), and they often throw in some bonus perks to add even more value for money. You can also have your car repaired by any certified auto shop, so if things ever go wrong out on the road, you know that help is nearby.

While we’re on the topic, we should point out that auto insurance and extended warranties are very different beasts. Sure, they’re both fantastic at saving you money, but auto insurance specifically protects you from bills incurred as a result of collisions, damage from weather, and other such incidents, while an extended warranty protects you from bills incurred as a result of unexpected component failure. The two work great in tandem, so make sure to take out both and shield yourself from all angles.

What Service Engine Soon Indicates for Your Vehicle

Every time you start up your engine, dashboard lights will flicker on temporarily. But when they stay on, it could be cause for concern. One of the most dreaded lights is the Service Engine Soon alert (aka check engine light), which indicates a problem with your engine or transmission that requires attention. Ignoring this warning could lead to serious problems, resulting in further damage and increased expenses.

When the light initially comes on, it will be a solid color, indicating that an assessment is due as soon as possible. If you take too long to seek professional help, the light will start flashing, which tells you that the problem has become more serious and you should visit a mechanic immediately. The most common reasons your Service Engine Soon light might come on include problems with:

  • The oxygen sensor
  • The mass airflow sensor
  • The catalytic converter
  • A vacuum leak
  • Spark plugs
  • Ignition coils
  • Gas caps

Should your Service Engine Soon light show up, a certified auto shop will have these components on their list of things to check.

Types of Engine-Related Issues Covered under Extended Warranties

What’s covered by your extended warranty will ultimately come down to the level of coverage you’ve chosen to take out, but even if you’ve opted for a basic powertrain plan, there are some things you can be sure of. The idea behind a powertrain plan is that it covers the most important (and therefore most expensive) engine-related issues — most of which will result in a ‘service engine soon’ light. Protected components usually include your:

  • Turbo/supercharger
  • Diesel and hybrid electric vehicles
  • Drive axle
  • Brakes
  • Power steering
  • Various electrical components (e.g., alternator, horn, and starter motor)
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Fuel system
  • Suspension
  • Engine cooling system
  • Cylinder head and intake manifold gasket seals

To give you an estimate of just how much these might cost without an extended warranty in place, here are some current RepairPal estimates for related repairs:

  • Timing chain replacement: $1,905
  • Oil pan gasket: $509
  • Water pump replacement: $866
  • Engine control module: $1,081
  • Axle seal left front: $306
  • Transmission mount replacement: $326
  • Axle shaft replacement: $949
  • Constant velocity joint replacement: $1,159
  • Transfer case replacement: $3,035

The Claims Process for Service Engine Soon Alerts

Service engine soon light on a car dashboardIf a Service Engine Soon or check engine light appears on your vehicle, you should follow the standard Endurance Warranty claims process with these eight steps:

1. Prevent further damage.

The Service Engine Soon light indicates that something needs a professional’s attention, and driving your vehicle could worsen things. This kind of additional damage won’t be covered by your warranty, so do everything you can to prevent it. Pull over in a safe spot and call roadside assistance using the number in your Endurance Mobile app.

2. Take your vehicle to a licensed repair facility.

The beauty of a vehicle service contract is that you’re free to have your car taken to any licensed auto shop. On arrival, provide staff with a copy of your Endurance contract or your contract number prior to any work being carried out.

3. Service manager obtains authorization from the administrator prior to making any repairs.

Once they have your contract information, the service manager can contact us to obtain authorization for the claim by calling (224) 326-0619. Any repairs carried out before authorization is confirmed will not be covered.

4. Authorize tear-down and/or inspection.

A Service Engine Soon light could indicate any of a number of problems, so you’ll most likely need to authorize a tear-down or inspection of your vehicle so the auto shop can get to the bottom of the issue.

5. Review your warranty coverage.

Take some time to review your Endurance contract with the service manager. That way, you can be totally comfortable with what’s covered before work begins.

6. Pay any applicable deductible.

Should your contract include a deductible, now’s the time to pay it. This is the only money that needs to leave your pocket, as Endurance will reimburse the auto shop directly for the repair cost of parts and labor.

7. Keep all forms of documentation during this time.

Just in case, it’s smart to keep hold of any paperwork associated with the repair/claim until the work has been completed and the keys are back in your hand. Having this documentation readily available can help if there are any issues.

8. Sit back and relax while your car is getting repaired.

Your claim is complete, and you’ll be back on the road before you know it. If things are taking a little longer than expected, your replacement vehicle reimbursement perk will keep you on the move in the meantime.

Navigating Warranty Coverage for Engine Diagnostics and Repairs

It can’t be stressed enough just how familiar you should be with your warranty coverage terms before and after purchase. The biggest reason claims are rejected is because the customer didn’t realize the component in question wasn’t covered by their plan, so read and re-read your contract to avoid any nasty surprises at the auto shop.

Even the most basic powertrain plan will cover the majority of serious engine issues, but some possible exclusions include:

  • Pre-existing Conditions
  • Misuse or Neglect
  • Commercial Use
  • High-Performance Modifications
  • Damage from Improper Repairs
  • Non-Factory Equipment
  • Wear and Tear Items
  • Exhaust System
  • Suspension and Steering Components
  • Batteries
  • Regular Maintenance Items
  • Seals and Gaskets
  • High-Performance Parts
  • Damage from Environmental Factors
  • Specific Electronics
  • Conversion Kits

Tips for Managing Service Engine Soon Alerts under Your Extended Warranty

Service Engine Soon alerts can indicate a very serious problem(and thus very expensive repairs) with your vehicle. To ensure the best possible outcome, consider the following for your own peace of mind:

Ensure you’re adequately covered.

If you’re in the process of purchasing extended warranty coverage, make sure you’re fully protected by taking out a comprehensive exclusionary plan if possible. If you already have coverage, review your contract and contact customer care about filling any gaps. They can alter your plan by adding on any missing components.

Don’t delay seeking help.

When a Service Engine Soon light pops up, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. The longer you leave it, the greater the chance of damage being much more significant. Additional damage incurred due to neglectful ownership won’t be a covered repair by your warranty, meaning all repairs must come out of your own pocket.

Stick to your maintenance schedule.

Sticking to your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule (usually in your owner’s manual) will keep your car’s components in top running condition. This significantly increases the lifespan of each part, reducing the chance of a “Service Engine Soon” or check engine light and keeping you away from the auto shop for longer. Most warranty providers stipulate that regular maintenance must be carried out to keep your coverage active, so you should do this anyway.

Stay Protected Wherever You Go with an Extended Car Warranty

Preventative maintenance goes a long way to keeping your vehicle in top running condition, but no component lasts forever—and some can be incredibly expensive to replace. You need an extended warranty (more accurately called a vehicle service contract) watching over you to protect you and your wallet from the cost of unexpected mechanical breakdowns. And Endurance is the country’s most trusted provider.

Since opening the doors of our headquarters in Northbrook, IL, way back in 2006, we’ve helped thousands of drivers save big at the repair shop. We offer a wide range of auto protection plans aimed at an even wider range of drivers, with something to cater to casual commuters, commercial drivers, and even select luxury car owners. We pride ourselves on our unrivaled flexibility, so if you can’t find a plan to suit your individual needs and budget, our award-winning sales team will happily customize one instead.

As well as top-tier protection, we offer some of the best benefits. All Endurance customers can access 24/7 roadside assistance (with towing and fuel service), rental car reimbursement, and trip-interruption costs as standard.

If that wasn’t enough, every new customer also receives a year’s free access to our Elite Benefits package, adding up to four tire repairs or replacements annually, key fob replacement, up to $500 in collision discounts, and up to $1000 in total loss protection. Pay a nominal activation fee, and the benefits are all yours to enjoy.

Auto experts recommend Endurance as the best vehicle service contract money can buy, but you don’t have to take their word for it — we also have thousands of five-star reviews from happy customers on sites like Trustpilot and Google. Once you’ve looked and are ready to learn more, call us at (800) 253-8203 to request a FREE  quote. You can also shop online to see your price now.

For more helpful articles, auto expert tips, and more, check out our extended warranty blog.

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