6 things to look for in a vehicle service plan
There are a lot of options when choosing a vehicle service plan and it’s important to understand that price is only one consideration. When you invest in protecting your vehicle for the long run, there are specific things that place one service plan over another.
The very first consideration when comparing one vehicle service plan over another should be “What does this plan actually cover?” Service plans — even from the same company — may offer different tiers of protection that cover fewer items at a lower price.
In general, a less expensive plan can either have a higher deductible, or can cover fewer items than a full bumper-to-bumper plan. Make sure you understand exactly what a plan covers before you pull the trigger.
Service plans that offer flexibility in the term of protection can be especially beneficial. Imagine you only plan to keep your new car until it’s six years old. A plan that offers a flexible term, allowing you to protect your vehicle for an additional three years over the original warranty’s three years or 36,000 miles, could be a perfect solution.
Similarly, if you’re planning on keeping your next new car for eight years and you drive 18,000 mile per year, a service plan that adds those years of protection without regard to the amount of miles you pile on can be a significant cost savings over time.
The biggest consideration in a service plan should be whether it’s backed by the original equipment manufacturer. There are any number of third party service plans that may or may not be acceptable at retailers around the country. Service plans that are backed by the manufacturer are acceptable at any of that brand’s dealerships anywhere in the United States, and also use original manufacturer parts to perform any repairs. That’s a major advantage over other service plans.
What if you’ve purchased an eight-year, unlimited mileage service plan and you decide to buy a new car after five years? A plan that offers a transfer of ownership for a nominal paperwork fee is not only protection for the next buyer, but it’s also a selling point if you decide to sell the car privately.
Towing, roadside assistance and rental
Do you pay for a towing and roadside assistance plan with an auto club? If you select the right vehicle service plan, you can save that annual fee because towing and roadside assistance are part of the service plan. If you’ve locked your keys in your car, run out of gas or had a flat tire, the service plan will send help, and if your vehicle needs to be towed, they’ll tow it to the nearest authorized dealership, getting you safely off the road.
It’s also a good idea to select a plan that offers rental assistance. Look for a plan that covers the first day rental allowance, and then provides additional days of rental allowance should your vehicle need to be at the shop for an extended period.
Trip interruption protection
A breakdown on the way to work is bad enough. What if your vehicle breaks down on your vacation? Look for a vehicle service plan that offers trip interruption protection that can pay for up to $1,000 worth of lodging, meals and transportation expenses should your vehicle break down when you’re 100 miles or more from home.
All of these items should be a part of your overall service plan, and can pay for themselves in one mechanical breakdown.