Your car’s extended warranty covers you in case of mechanical breakdown, but it certainly doesn’t cover everything.
Each contract has built in language that gives the obligor of the contract (the party responsible for paying your repairs) the ability to void their contractual obligation to pay for your repairs.
While each extended car warranty, also known as a vehicle service contract, is different, many of them have the same exclusions that you need to be aware of.
Here’s a quick summary of what voids your car warranty:
- If your vehicle is declared a total loss by the insurance company
- If you have nature damage, or a salvaged or branded title
- If you don’t do repairs when they need to be done
- If your vehicle is incorrectly used for towing
- If your odometer is damaged, or found to be altered
- If you use your vehicle for non-covered commercial operations
- If you make any non-manufacturer approved modifications to your car
- If you authorize a repair without telling your warranty company
- If you don’t follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule
- If you try to increase your engine’s compression
We’ll talk about each of these in more detail.
Because the last thing you want to do is find out you’ve voided your car’s warranty unintentionally. We know how bad that sucks, and we’d like to keep it from happening to you.
If your warranty is voided, your car’s repairs won’t be covered, and you could be on the hook for thousands in repair bills.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
1: If Your Vehicle Is Declared A Total Loss
Let’s say you get into an accident.
Not just any fender bender, a bad accident.
You know, something like Dumbo here taking out your car.
When your insurance agent arrives to assess the damage, if he goes ahead and declares your car as a total loss, where the cost to fix your car is more than the fair value, your car warranty will very likely be voided.
Your car’s title will then be marked as salvaged, and you won’t be able to get coverage with most warranties.
Protect My Car’s Ambassador program is an exception, which we will talk about momentarily.
Here are a couple of real examples of what this clause looks like in your contract:
“Moreover, if your vehicle has been declared a TOTAL LOSS […] this shall be grounds for [car warranty company] voiding YOUR contract.”
“If Your Vehicle has ever been issued a restricted title, including, but not limited to: […] total loss”
Because an extended car warranty only covers mechanical breakdowns, as it isn’t insurance, your policy obligor will void your contract if you try to make a claim, and they will have the right under the contract to do so.
2: Having A Branded Title/Suffering Environmental Damage
Quick, what do these 3 cars all have in common?
If you guessed that all 3 cars are going to be issued a title brand, you’d be correct. A title brand is assigned to a vehicle after it’s sustained damage and may be potentially unsafe to drive.
The 3 images above depict a hail brand, a flood brand, and a fire brand.
These are just a few of the many different types of brands, which include:
- Lemon Law Brand
- Theft/Recovery Brand
- Reconstructed Brand
- Junk Brand
In many cases, possessing a branded title will cause your extended car warranty to be voided.
This is because these brands tend to mean that the car has been mechanically compromised in some way, and is at far greater risk for suffering multiple catastrophic breakdowns.
In fact, we wrote about this at length in our article about getting extended warranty coverage on a salvaged or branded title article.
Luckily, Protect My Car’s Ambassador program covers salvaged and branded titles, so if you find yourself in this situation, we’ve got your back.
The same is true of what are called “acts of nature”, or events that are beyond anyone’s control. These can range from hurricanes and tornados, to our buddy dumbo from the previous example.
An example of both of the above conditions in a real contract:
“[…]falling missiles or objects, environmental damage including but not limited to fire, lightning, earthquake, windstorm, ice, hail, water, flood, contamination, corrosion, rust, malicious mischief, vandalism, riot or civil commotion, or if the vehicle has been declared a TOTAL LOSS, or has a SALVAGED or BRANDED title, this shall be grounds for [extended car warranty company] voiding YOUR CONTACT”
3: If You Don’t Do Your Repairs
Having an extended warranty doesn’t protect you from the dangers of negligent car ownership.
Don’t get me wrong, we like saving money too at PMC headquarters, but if you want to save on car repairs and keep your warranty in the clear, do your regularly scheduled repairs.
Because your car warranty company will be able to void your contract if you’re trying to make a claim on damage to your car, if they, you know, find out you were driving on only 3 wheels.
There’s a Spyder joke in there somewhere.
Here’s an example ripped right out of a contract:
“If the VEHICLE has been abused or neglected, or any part of the vehicle has been subject to an accident, physical damage, or adjustments, or for any loss or damage resulting from collision or upset. […] Any breakdown caused by the policyholder’ failure to protect the VEHICLE from further damage”
Generally, your extended warranty company will also want to see maintenance records. For example, if your transmission fails, an extended warranty company would want to see evidence of your transmission being serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
In practice this looks like:
“If the CONTRACTHOLDER cannot provide to US, the ADMINISTRATOR, accurate/verifiable maintenance records proving that the VEHICLE has been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule as outlined in the VEHICLE’S owner’s manual (i.e., Oil Changes, Transmission Service, Fluid Exchanges, etc.).”
4: If You Use Your Vehicle Incorrectly For Towing
Personally, I remember the first time I saw a sedan with a trailer strapped to it.
I thought it looked pretty freaking ridiculous.
Apparently, it goes far back too.
But here’s the thing: if your car isn’t equipped with a factory towing package, you can void your warranty by installing one and attempting to tow with it.
Even if you have stock towing package, you can still void your extended warranty contract if you tow over the manufacturer’s recommended limit (known as the manufacturer’s recommended gross combination weight rating, or GCWR).
This is because towing on a vehicle that’s not built to tow can put the mechanical components of a car under undue stress that can cause those parts to fail.
Towing is considered operating outside of normal use in this case. The same principle if true of vehicles that have a tow package. Exceeding the recommended weight means bad things can happen.
Here’s your example, again ripped right out of a real contract:
“If the VEHICLE is used for towing (unless the policyholder’s VEHICLE is equipped with the manufacturer’s installed, or a manufacturer authorized, tow package, and does not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended gross combination weight rating (GCWR)) […] this shall be grounds for [extended car warranty company] voiding YOUR CONTRACT.
5: If Your Odometer Is Damaged Or Altered
This is pretty straightforward, without knowing the actual mileage of a vehicle, it’s much more difficult to estimate the wear and tear on the vehicle, and issue the corresponding coverage.
If your car’s odometer is damaged and you don’t immediately repair it, your warranty can be voided. The same is true if your odometer is tampered with, reset, or altered in any way.
How it looks:
“If the odometer of the VEHICLE is broken or becomes inoperable or unreliable, for any reason, and repairs were not made immediately at the time of the failure, or if the odometer has been tampered with, disconnected or altered in any way. If YOU have not promptly repaired a defective odometer, this exclusion applies, and this vehicle service CONTRACT will be CANCELLED by US.”
6: If You Use Your Vehicle For Commercial Purposes
This exemption is specific to certain warranties, as there are warranty options out there that can cover business or fleet vehicles.
Be on the lookout for language that excludes rideshare use, as this is the most common commercial use of the everyday vehicle.
Other common commercial purposes include:
- Road repair (dump beds)
- Snow Removal
- Competitive driving/racing
If you’re trying to cover a commercial vehicle, you want to check ahead with your extended warranty company if you’re covered.
For example, Protect My Car’s Ambassador Program also covers Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare drivers.
Here’s an example of the void clause:
“If Your Vehicle is used for commercial purposes including, but not limited to, rental, taxi, limousine or shuttle, towing/wrecker service, road repair, construction, dumping (dump beds), hauling, lifting or hoisting, farming, ranching or other agricultural purposes, snow removal, police or emergency service, principally off-road use, prearranged or organized racing or competitive driving.”
7: If You Make Any Electrical Or Mechanical Modifications To Your Car
Don’t get me wrong, the custom offset with the 24” tires you were thinking about?
It still looks sweet.
But chances are, it’ll void your warranty because it’ll make your car more prone to repair.
With most extended warranty policies, any aftermarket mod not recommended by the manufacturer will cause your warranty to be voided.
So if you do want that lift kit, you’re better off canceling your warranty so you don’t end up paying for it only to find out that you won’t get coverage.
Some contracts can be more forgiving. Our Ambassador line, for example, accepts most aftermarket modifications provided you notify us after making them.
“Of any otherwise covered part that did not meet manufacturer’s specifications, including modifications, and/or alterations to the vehicle; mechanical breakdown or failure of any otherwise covered part that is directly or indirectly related to a part or system that did not meet manufacturer’s specifications or has otherwise modification or altered, such parts and modifications include, but are not limited to: headers, altered ignition system, altered engine management, free flow exhaust system, aftermarket sunroofs, after market alarm systems, snow plows, oversized or undersized tires, wheels or lift and drop kits, whether or not the vehicle was purchased with such”
8: If You Authorize A Repair Without Notifying Your Extended Warranty Company
The Claims process will differ slightly depending on which extended car warranty company you choose, but as a whole it looks like this:
- Your vehicle breaks down. You call our roadside assistance number, and we connect you with a tow truck.
- Your car is towed to the facility, where you give them your policy ID card so they can get in touch with our claims department.
- We give the mechanic an authorization number for the repairs.
- We recommend that you get a written summary of what will be fixed just to be safe
- We pay the mechanic and you drive off with your fixed up car!
Now if you don’t follow this procedure and then authorize the repair without calling your warranty company first, your repairs may not be covered.
Calling your extended warranty company gives them the chance to confirm that everything is being handled properly on your vehicle.
Many claims departments, including our own, have team members with prior ASE certifications as mechanics themselves.
They just want to make sure the job gets done right, and your car gets a good repair price.
Here’s an example:
“Reimbursement for any repair or replacement made without prior authorization from Administrator to repair facility unless You follow the procedures outlined in the Terms and Conditions, Filing a Breakdown Claim: 8. Emergency Repairs Section for emergency repairs”
There is an exception to this rule in some contracts however, including our own.
It’s called Emergency Repairs, and what it essentially does is allows you to authorize repairs covered in your contract, if they meet certain conditions.
Depending on the company, this can mean different things. For example, Endurance’s Premier policy allows you to authorize your own repair if the Administrator’s office is closed, provided you’re only making a repair for something that makes your vehicle unsafe to drive, and that the repair is covered in your policy.
For us, it’s any covered repair taking less than 2 hours to complete, as long as you call us within 5 business days.
Here’s what it looks like:
“For a simple emergency repair, which is any covered repair requiring two (2) hours or less of labor time to complete, YOU may authorize the LICENSED REPAIR FACILITY to perform the repair. YOU must call PROTECT MY CAR LLC during normal business hours, within five (5) business days of your simple repair, for instructions on how to be reimbursed for your simple repair.”
9: If You Don’t Maintain Your Car According To The Manufacturer’s Schedule
Taking care of your car is important in order to keep your warranty (and your car!!) running smoothly.
I know, most of us don’t get our cars maintained as frequently as we should.
But that may put you in hot water with your warranty company.
Every extended warranty contract I was able to look through has an exclusion that allows your warranty to be voided if you don’t keep up with your maintenance.
Each car has a recommended service schedule, which is normally located in your car’s owner’s manual. It may even have a table to check off when it’s been serviced.
This means having your car checked at a certain interval, depending on your driving habits and climate conditions, and replacing all the fluids and wear and tear parts as your owner’s manual details.
This provision is almost always outlined very early in your contract.
“You must have Your Vehicle checked and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, as outlined in the Owner’s Manual. NOTE: Your Owner’s Manual lists different servicing recommendations based on Your individual driving habits and climate conditions. You are required to follow the maintenance schedule that applies to Your driving habits and climate conditions. Failure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations that apply to Your driving habits and climate conditions may result in the denial of Coverage.”
10: If You Attempt To Increase Your Engine’s Compression
A higher compression ratio in your engine means more power, and more efficiency. The latest generation LS based small block engines all have higher compression ratios for a reason.
Cranking up the compression, however, means putting yourself at risk for very expensive engine damage.
As you can imagine, cracking your engine block from increased compression is pretty bad, and if you do it, your warranty won’t cover you.
All the contracts I read had an exclusion for this.
“Due to any BREAKDOWN which is caused by any repair when the purpose is to raise the VEHICLE’S engine compression or to stop excessive oil consumption.”
The Difficulty With Extended Car Warranty Exclusions
There are other small exclusions in the policies I read that I didn’t cover here, mostly because the chances of them happening is slim.
With that said, if you want to read them, take your time. Some of the contract language can be confusing!
If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask an agent from the company. Keep asking until you feel comfortable with the answer you’re getting!
Now for our part, we’ve tried to simplify the process.
You can check it out in our plain English sample contracts.
Get your free quote with Protect My Car today and start saving thousands on auto repairs.