Does Your Extended Warranty Cover Your Check Engine Light?

by | Jan 28, 2020

We all know the subtle feeling of dread when the amber check engine light flashes in front of our face for the first time. The slow realization that something may be wrong though can often go ignored. As many as 1 in 3 drivers willfully ignore their check engine light, fearing the potential repair bill.

Does that sound like something you’ve done before? Luckily I know that because you’re reading this article you want to do something about it, which I commend you for. Leaving your check engine light unchecked can cause a whole host of problems. Furthermore, the causes for your check engine light can range from simple and inexpensive to complex and possibly catastrophic.

Even worse, the only advice I could find about this situation was from CBS, and as usual, they came up short, chalking most problems up to “components of the emissions control system” which is about as vague and non-helpful as you can be. Fear not though, we’ll actually cover specific parts and repairs.

The good news is that when your check engine light comes on, your warranty will very likely cover what’s wrong. To help you with this, I’ve gone ahead and picked the 10 most common engine problems that can cause your check engine light to come on, and I’ve compared the 3 largest extended warranty companies out there to see if your repair is covered.

The 10 Problems That Can Cause Your Check Engine Light To Come On

One of the best things you can do before you read this list is to purchase an OBD-II code reader. You can get one for about $10 bucks on Amazon and it will save your life so you don’t have to spend a ton of time guessing what went wrong with your engine. Plug the OBD-II reader into your OBD port and you’ll be served a series of codes.

Sometimes the codes will be well explained, but others you’ll have to dig. At least this way you’ll have a definitive idea of what’s wrong, and if you’ll be covered or not. To make it easier, each repair here will include the corresponding OBD-II code.

While many of these codes are generic, they can at least point you in the right direction. I recommend using a website light obd-codes.com in order to further diagnose and get more information about your codes.

1: O2 Sensor Failure

Codes that may include your 02 sensors: P0130, p0420, p135, p0141

Your car uses your oxygen sensor to balance the amount of fuel injected into your engine to ensure your vehicle is running smoothly. Most vehicles older than 20 or so years old have at least one, while some have as many as 4.

Besides your check engine light, if you’ve noticed reduced gas mileage lately, a bad O2 sensor might be to blame. When your oxygen sensor isn’t working correctly, your engine can run rich, which means additional fuel is injected into the cylinders.

If it’s your O2 sensor that has failed, you won’t be looking at a hefty bill by any means, with the cost coming in at between $200-$300 dollars if you take the car to a mechanic.

Protect My Car:

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans That Cover Your O2 Sensor: None

Notes: Your O2 sensor is part of your emissions system, which generally is not covered by most extended warranties contrary to what CBS has claimed.

Endurance Warranty:

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans That Cover Your O2 Sensor: None

Notes: Endurance also does not cover emissions repairs.

Carshield:

Direct Contract Provider: No

Plans That Cover Your O2 Sensor: Emissions Package Add On (Extra Purchase)

Notes: Carshield is not a direct contract provider, which means they sell you another company’s contract, which in this case is American Auto Shield. American Auto Shield offers an emissions package add on which can be purchased in addition to one of their plans which do cover your oxygen sensor.

2: Loose Fuel Cap

Codes that may indicate a loose fuel cap: p0440, p0457, p0442

I admit I’ve been the victim of this one more than once. There’s nothing worse than leaving your scheduled service and immediately having your check engine light come back on.

Luckily, if it’s a loose fuel cap, you can just replace it and use your OBD-II reader to reset your check engine light. I would recommend caution though, as even the codes that point to an issue with your gas cap can really be hiding an issue with your EVAP system where you have a leak or some such issue. If you reset your gas cap once and it doesn’t come back, you’re in good shape.

But if your check engine light pops up again, take your car to a mechanic. You may have an issue with a leaking EVAP hose or an issue with your purge or vent valve.

With that being said, I hope you don’t expect me to tell you if your extended warranty covers a loose fuel cap. I think you can figure that out for yourself.

3: Catalytic Converter Failure

Codes that may indicate a bad catalytic converter: P0420

The funny thing about your catalytic converter is that it’s not actually part of the engine and usually sits towards the rear of your car. It’s part of your emissions control system, but it can throw a check engine light at you regardless.

You know that section of your exhaust pipe that has a large knuckle on it? That’s your catalytic converter, which is responsible for reducing your emissions by turning harmful gasses into less toxic pollutants. They’ve been found in the US since the mid-1970s when emissions control warranted cleaner air.

If your car has a bad catalytic converter, you may notice reduced driving performance (if it’s clogged), or you may hear it rattling while you drive. You can also check if your catalytic converter is the problem by checking the temperature on both ends. One end should be considerably hotter than another. If that’s not the case, it’s time to replace it!

The factory part itself can run as high as $400-$500 dollars – and with labor, this repair can sometimes get over $600 – $700.

Driving with a bad catalytic converter is a no-no, so take your car to the mechanic if you suspect an issue.

Protect My Car:

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans That Cover The Catalytic Converter: None

Notes: The catalytic converter is an emissions repair that most extended warranties don’t cover.

Endurance Warranty:

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans That Cover The Catalytic Converter: None

Notes: Endurance also does not cover catalytic converter repairs, as they don’t cover emissions systems either.

Carshield:

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans That Cover The Catalytic Converter: None

Notes: Strangely enough, American Auto Shield (who’s contracts are sold by Carshield) does not include the catalytic converter in its additional emissions coverage add on, even though it includes other emissions systems like the EGR and oxygen sensor.

4: Spark Plugs/Ignition Coil

Codes that may indicate bad spark plugs/ignition coils: p0302, p0304

Without these bad boys, you’re not going anywhere fast. We all know that the spark plug plays a vital role in creating ignition in your engine. Lesser known is the ignition coil that attaches to the spark plug. Each spark plug has its own ignition coil attached to it, which transforms the voltage from your car’s battery into the thousands of volts needed to spark the spark plugs and ignite the fuel.

In short – they’re both important, and they both fail. Often.

Your OBD-II reader won’t show that these are the issue directly, but will often instead indicate an engine misfire, or throw you a code indicating one of your cylinders has misfired.

Spark plugs and ignition coils are extremely cheap to replace, which is good because they aren’t a covered part under your extended warranty. Spark plugs and ignition coils are a good example of what’s considered a “wear and tear” part of your car, meaning they’re designed to wear out and be replaced with normal use.

Luckily, if spark plugs are causing your check engine light to be an issue you won’t be breaking the bank to fix them. Even if you own a Bugatti, you’ll only be set back a grand total of $9. Probably good, considering the oil change for a Bugatti can cost up to $25,000 dollars.

Better get our Ambassador plan and enjoy those free oil changes.

5: Wiring Issues

OBD Codes: Too many to list here – look up each specific code

Today’s cars are a fusion of raw computing power and mechanical might harnessed in tandem to allow you to drive just the right speed to tailgate the minivan in the left lane going 15mph under the “unofficial” speed limit of 85mph.

The wiring that makes this all possible however can behave in strange ways which can set off your check engine light. Wiring is also tricky in that it’s not covered by your extended warranty – as wiring always an exclusion item in 3rd party warranties.

6: Mass Airflow Sensor

Your car’s mass airflow sensor is used to tell your car how much oxygen is being allowed into the engine. This information is what allows your engine to regulate air intake in order to keep your engine humming along.

When your MAF sensor starts to go bad, your car won’t be able to adjust the air intake correctly, which can lead to your engine running lean or running rich.

Unless it’s an extreme case, this won’t manifest itself readily with anything other than a check engine light and decreased fuel economy. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, though. Running your engine lean or rich can cause severe damage to your cylinders which can cripple your engine. The good news is this repair shouldn’t set you back any more than $300 dollars tops The bad news is it may not be covered by your extended warranty.  

Protect My Car

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans that cover your mass airflow sensor: Ambassador Platinum, Ambassador Elite, Ambassador Premium, Ambassador Plus

Notes: The MAF sensor is covered as a part of all of our Ambassador plans even though it’s a relatively inexpensive repair.

Endurance Warranty

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans that cover your mass airflow sensor: Supreme

Notes: Endurance’s most comprehensive plan, the Supreme covers the MAF sensor as it’s not named in the exclusions. The Supreme policy covers all car repairs, minus the exclusions page.  

Carshield:

Direct Contract Provider: No

Plans that cover your mass airflow sensor: Comprehensive (With Emissions Add On Surcharge)

Notes: With the emissions package your MAF sensor is covered – although you will pay additional money for it.

7: Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve

Codes that may indicate a bad exhaust gas recirculation valve:

Quick, guess what the exhaust gas recirculation valve does (other than set off your check engine light of course!)

If you guessed recirculating engine gas, pat yourself on the back. You guessed correctly. Your engine gas recirculation valve moves some of your exhaust back through the combustion process for a cleaner burn. This also helps eliminate some harmful gases.

The repair itself can cost up to $500 depending on the car you own, but will more likely be in the $200-$300 dollar range.

Protect My Car

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans that cover engine gas recirculation valve:

Notes:

Endurance Warranty

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans that cover engine gas recirculation valve:

Notes:

Carshield

Direct Contract Provider: Yes

Plans that cover engine gas recirculation valve:

Notes:

What Is A Direct Warranty Provider?

Now, if you’re also considering getting a vehicle service contract you should know what a direct provider is. It’s an important distinction that is worth talking about.

A direct warranty provider is a warranty company that administrates and services its own claims, legally speaking. What that means, is when a direct warranty provider sells you an extended warranty, they are responsible for paying your claims, as well as handling any customer service issues that arise.

Direct providers can offer lower prices for their plans and better customer service because everything is handled in house. 

Currently, only Protect My Car and Endurance are direct warranty providers.

Other extended warranty companies aren’t selling their own plans.  When you buy a policy with them, they then transfer the responsibility for your future claims to a 3rd party finance company. They get paid, and then that finance company that you didn’t choose becomes the legal entity responsible for paying your claims.

This can be a huge hassle. Claims take longer to get paid, and we’ve seen prices that are more expensive.

That’s not to mention that the 3rd party finance company has no connection to you as a human being and has every financial incentive to pay as little as possible on your claim.

With over 13 years in this business, everyone will tell you that choosing a direct warranty provider is the best way to go. You’ll avoid getting a run around from claims agents, and instead will get help from a real person who wants to see you off smiling.

Want To Get The Best Extended Warranty For Your Check Engine Light Choose Protect My Car & Save

Protect My Car is far from “any” extended warranty company – and our coverage of your check engine light is far from the only thing that sets us apart. Our lowest-cost plan, the Driveline covers more than the basic coverage you’ll get from other extended warranty companies, including your starter, and important bits like your air conditioning, windshield washer pump, and alternator.

Best of all, we’re able to do this at a lower price than our competitors because we’re a direct warranty provider.

As a proud direct warranty provider, you’ll never be mistreated when you join us. There’s a reason our average review score (TrustPilot, Consumer Affairs, BBB) is a 4.3/5.0, and I want you to find out why.

We know there are a number of other great extended warranty companies out there, we know we’re the best and we want to prove it to you.

That’s why, for a limited time, we’re giving away $50 dollars in rewards just for getting a quote with us. From there, you’ll be able to shop all of our different plans, online, with no phone call needed. You can even buy your extended warranty policy in less than 5 minutes and have your check engine light covered and ready to go.

Because we’re a direct warranty provider, you may find that our plans are significantly cheaper than what you’re paying right now.

So don’t wait, get your free quote today and claim your $50 dollars in free rewards. You’ll be one step closer to not having to shell your hard-earned dollars for an engine repair.  

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