Best Extended Car Warranty for Free

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

I just got the best extended car warranty. To sweeten the deal, it didn’t cost me a cent. As you can imagine, I’m pretty happy.

I want to tell you what happened in the hopes that you’ll be able to take advantage of my experiences and get your best extended car warranty for free too.


best car extended warranty


The background:

My 2003 Japanese minivan was leaking oil.

I’m a huge fan of Japanese cars and that’s all we drive. (Yes, I know about Toyota’s sudden acceleration problems and no, it won’t stop me from driving Toyota’s or other Japanese cars.)

Step 1. We took the car into the dealership.

The first person I met at the dealership was quite possibly the most inept person I’ve ever met in my entire life.

First he said it would be $100 to diagnose the problem. I was fine with that so I left the car and went to work. A few hours later he called and said it would be $400 and that would include the repair. I was OK with that too.

Then, a few hours later he called and informed me that the fix didn’t fix the problem. Now he wanted $700 to do more tests.

Whether or not he did this on purpose or because he was born an idiot, I can’t say. All I know is I was completely dissatisfied with the service so I kicked the problem upstairs. I used the same procedure as when I’m disputing credit card charges. I called the service manager. I wasn’t rude to either person but I wasn’t giving up without being treated fairly.

Takeaway from Step 1.

A. Don’t let anyone push you around. You are the customer. They are getting paid to help you. If you don’t understand something, don’t accept it.

B. Never treat anyone rudely no matter how poorly they treat you.

Step 2. I explained to the manager how it was in his interest to shut me up.

While I wasn’t dealing with a Toyota, I explained that I bought a Japanese car because of its quality and workmanship. I reminded Mike that his company probably didn’t need the headaches that Toyota was going through and I was sure they wanted to make it right. He said he’d look into it and call me back.

Within a few hours, Mike did call back. He informed me that some of the engine bolts weren’t tightened to spec when the car was manufactured back in the Land of the Rising Sun. This kind of surprised me because the car is a 2003 model. I didn’t understand why it took seven years for the oil to start leaking…but I didn’t care. In any event, Mike said that he would get the manufacturer to pay for the repair and he turned me into a raving fan and customer for life.

Talk about the best extended car warranty. Does it get any better than this?

Takeaway from Step 2.

Always remain calm. Ask good questions. Keep in mind that you have leverage. Hint that you do, but don’t threaten. Keep the dealership on your side.

What I could have done better.

I should have done a Google search on the make and model and the words engine oil leak. I could have checked out to see what problems have been reported by the manufacturer. They publish TBSs (Technical Service Bulletins) with known problems and fixes. You can get these full reports from your dealership, and if you do, you better believe they won’t try to push you around.

I’m not convinced that I can get my car dealership to pay for anything that goes wrong with my car – nor do I think it would be fair to try. But if you are kind, calm and do some digging, I’ll bet you’ll do a lot better next time your Model T needs some TLC.

Have you ever had a similar experience with auto repair? Have you found that you need to stay better informed in order to get a better deal? Can you use a similar strategy to get the best deal on automobile insurance?



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hedy March 29, 2010 at 6:04 AM

Impressive job.


Peter March 18, 2010 at 7:31 AM

Great reminder Neal! I had one of these “free warranty” fixes happen to me about a year ago. At the time my factory installed remote starter was having problems – it would only start the car if you were within 10-20 feet of the car, almost defeating the whole purpose of having one. After bringing it in the discovered that the remote starter receiver unit was failing in my car. I did some research and found a TSB from the manufacturer talking about defective units in my year/make/model. When I showed the TSB to the service department, they put a new one in my car, free of charge! Gotta love free repairs!


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