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Vehicle Repair Nightmares and How an Extended Warranty Can Save You Money

BY: Alex Perrone
Woman using mobile phone while standing in front of broken down car

Any car owner knows that staying on top of repairs is the best thing they can do for their vehicle. As soon as an issue arises, fixing it immediately will almost always be the cheapest and easiest course of action. Sometimes, though, major repairs can come up unexpectedly, even if you have been diligent about things like service and routine maintenance over the years. When this happens, it can be a disaster for your wallet and mental well-being.

Preparing for expensive vehicle repairs is a great way to minimize stress and keep your used car on the road when needed. However, many people don’t have the financial means to set aside a large emergency fund for their cars. This is where an extended warranty (more accurately called a vehicle service contract) can be a lifesaver.

Knowing what expensive auto repairs are the most common and how an extended car warranty can help will allow you to make the best decision for you and your vehicle.

Common Expensive Vehicle Repairs

Most common vehicle repairs are going to be relatively inexpensive. This is because the more common they are, the more likely they are to be something simple that won’t require much in the way of parts or labor. Some common repairs, though, can be incredibly costly. Knowing some of the most common expensive repairs will help you watch for them and be ready when they happen.

Engine Control Module Replacement

If your vehicle is relatively new, it will have an engine control module. This piece of equipment controls all kinds of vehicle processes, including the timing of the engine and the deployment of the anti-lock brake system. When this module goes bad, your vehicle will experience a wide variety of issues, some of which can make it totally inoperable. With replacement costs for an engine control module between $963 and $1,039, an extended warranty can be a big help.

Head Gasket Replacement

A failed head gasket is an expensive, stressful nightmare. The head gasket is responsible for preventing all the fluids inside the engine block from leaking out and keeping the vacuum seal of the engine intact. Over time, though, this gasket will start to break down and need to be replaced. Because it is difficult to get to the head gasket, the labor costs for this vehicle repair are astronomical, and most replacements will cost anywhere between $1,853 and $2,149.

Timing Belt Replacement

Your vehicle’s timing belt is responsible for turning the camshafts that move the pistons at the exact right moment. While most timing belts will last several years, they will eventually stretch or snap, rendering your car useless. Timing belts can be difficult to reach in the engine compartment and require a lot of labor to tension and adjust properly. Because of this, a replacement will cost between $598 and $773, which can be a major financial burden.

Fuel Injector Replacement

The fuel injectors in your car fire gasoline into the engine’s combustion chamber and are electronically timed alongside the spark plugs. If one of your fuel injectors gets clogged or dirty, or if it fails, your engine will develop a misfire and may leak gasoline into the exhaust system, which is incredibly expensive to repair. Replacing a fuel injection system is one of the more expensive vehicle repairs and can cost anywhere between $634 and $759, depending on your vehicle.

The Financial Impact of Major Repairs on Car Owners

When a major repair for your car comes up, there are several different problems that you could encounter. One of the biggest issues that can occur due to expensive vehicle repairs is the depletion of your emergency fund. If you have money set aside for emergencies, you know how comforting that can be. When an emergency actually occurs, though, you end up right back at square one. Having no backup plan for other eventualities can be stressful and put a lot of worry on your shoulders until you can get that fund replenished.

You could face many other issues if you don’t have an emergency fund set aside. In many cases, car owners will resort to putting vehicle repairs on their credit cards. While this can help you get your vehicle back on the road, it can also put a dent in your credit score since you are using up a larger percentage of your available credit. Plus, if you are not going to be able to repay that credit card debt right away, you can end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest to repay it.

Real-World Scenarios: When Repairs Turn into Nightmares

To fully understand how quickly a vehicle repair can turn into a financial nightmare, knowing what others have experienced can be helpful:

Real customer testimonialCassiano, an Endurance customer, was experiencing a failing electric coolant pump in his BMW in December 2022. This pump drew unnecessary power from the battery, causing it to die whenever the vehicle was turned off. When he took the car to the repair shop, he was informed that the pump would cost $900 with several hundred dollars worth of labor just to install it.

What seemed like a simple fix turned into a costly headache with one visit to the repair facility, and nothing could be done except to make the covered repairs. Because of his Endurance Warranty coverage, he did not have to pay the repair bill with his credit cards or emergency funds.

Extended Warranties: A Safety Net Against High Costs

If you want to protect yourself from the nightmare scenario of a costly repair that eats up your savings, an extended warranty or vehicle service contract is your best option. When you buy a new car, it will come with a factory warranty provided by the manufacturer.

An original warranty protects you from repairs that come up through no fault of your own. These can be from things like design issues or problems at the factory. All you have to do is take your vehicle to the dealership, and they will make the repair at no extra cost. After this factory coverage is up, you will be solely responsible for any vehicle repairs that must be made, whether they are your fault or not.

If you still want protection from these repair costs, you can get a vehicle service contract from a third-party provider, like Endurance, outside your vehicle’s manufacturer. This extended coverage can help you pay for your repairs and give you peace of mind that you won’t have to dip into your savings or make a large purchase on your credit card.

How Extended Warranties Work in Repair Scenarios

If you have an extended warranty plan in place for your vehicle, you make a monthly payment to keep that coverage active. Then, when a repair needs to be made, all you have to do is take the car to a licensed shop of your choice.

As long as that repair is covered under your current protection plan, the provider will pay the shop, and they will work on the repair. This way, you don’t have to worry about the massive costs of large repairs and can rest easy whenever you bring your vehicle to the mechanic.

It should be noted that you may have to pay something at the shop when you bring your vehicle in for a repair. For most auto protection plans, you will most likely have to pay some kind of deductible. You will be responsible for this dollar amount before the coverage kicks in.

In many cases, this will be somewhere around $100. Some plans have no deductible, though, and even if they are more expensive monthly, they can be worth it in the long run if you regularly bring your vehicle in for repairs. Be sure to read the fine print of your contract for details.

The Long-Term Financial Benefits of Extended Warranties

While having an extended car warranty in place requires paying a monthly premium, just like car insurance, it can be much cheaper in the long run. According to a study by Ally Financial, almost three out of five Americans said they have needed a car repair that cost over $1,000 in the last year. This means that expensive repairs are incredibly common, and while an extended auto warranty for your vehicle will cost you money every month, the chances are good that it will be worth it in the long run.

When you have an extended warranty or vehicle service contract for your vehicle, you will be much more likely to take care of repairs as soon as they come up. Car owners often put off repairs that don’t seem very serious.

However, the issue with this is that small problems can often turn into big problems, which will cost a lot more down the line than they would have if they were taken care of right away. With a protection plan, you can promptly get the repairs you need without putting them off for financial reasons.

Choosing the Right Extended Warranty for Your Needs

A big part of being prepared for high vehicle repair costs with an extended warranty is choosing the right plan for your needs. There are a wide variety of providers on the market with all kinds of plans that are specifically developed for certain cars and drivers.

Depending on your situation, you will want to look for a plan that fits your budget and covers everything you need. One of the best ways to pick the right protection plan is to know some of the most common repairs for your vehicle. This way, you can choose a plan that will cover these unexpected repairs so you can be ready when the time comes to make them.

You should also look for plans that are specifically designed for the type of used vehicle you have. If, for example, you have a car with quite a few miles on the odometer, a high-mileage plan will be your best option. If you have a high-end luxury car, coverage catering to those vehicles will be the right choice.

Endurance has various plans customized for every driver and situation, and with affordable pricing options, you can find something that will fit your needs and your budget. Getting a custom quote for your vehicle will help you pick the level of Endurance coverage that will be the most helpful to you.

Avoid the Worst-Case Scenarios with an Endurance Coverage Plan

An extended warranty or vehicle service contract can take a major weight off your shoulders regarding your vehicle’s upkeep and the cost of repairs. Staying on top of mechanical breakdowns and fixing them will be well worth it in the long run. By being as prepared as possible, you can avoid some of the worst-case scenarios that can happen with car repairs.

With plans that go from basic powertrain protection to exclusionary coverage (close to your manufacturer’s warranty), there is an Endurance auto protection plan for everyone. Endurance even covers vehicles other providers won’t, such as Canadian Gray Market vehicles, cars with a rebuilt or salvage title, or vehicles used for commercial purposes like rideshare or delivery drivers.

Endurance plans also come with standard benefits like 24/7 roadside assistance, towing, rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption protection. Plus, for a small activation fee, new Endurance customers get access to Elite Benefits, which include extra perks like tire repairs or replacement, key fob replacement, up to $1,000 in total loss coverage, and more.

Is an extended car warranty worth it? Yes! Call our award-winning customer service team at (800) 253-8203 and request a FREE quote for your vehicle. You can also take advantage of our online store for an upfront price preview.

Find more auto-expert resources on the Endurance blog. Explore FAQs, warranty provider comparisons with CarShield and CARCHEX, the cost of common repairs, DIY maintenance tips and tricks, and more.

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