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Photo by Yelp.com

Infiniti of Alexandria, Va., Photo by Yelp.com

After reading a couple of my articles on how my love for Craigslist, I’m sure most of you have scoured the web looking for a used car. Unfortunately, the majority of people interested in purchasing a used car are interested in getting one with a warranty, which means Craigslist isn’t the place to go.

On Craigslist, and other websites where people can sell cars, everyone lies. Let’s face it, they’re trying to sell something and if they didn’t lie, chances are no one would want their vehicle. So being a responsible adult, you head to the dealership, because they have laws and stuff to stop them from lying to.

While that’s a different animal for a different time, I’m here to tell you a short-ish story about my experience with an expensive vehicle with an expensive warranty.

As you know, I owned a 2009 Infiniti G37X Coupe for a year and absolutely loved it. It was a great car that had minimal problems, but it did cost me a pretty penny. I only had two problems with the car: an exhaust rattle and a terrible driver side window screech.

Photo by Joel Patel

2009 Infiniti G37X Coupe, Photo by Joel Patel

When I purchased the car, I also purchased a four-year 45K mile warranty for an additional $2,500. Like a good enthusiast, and nervous first-time car buyer, I read through the whole warranty packet. Things like brakes, tires, spark plugs, belts and other ‘wear and tear’ items weren’t covered. But that didn’t surprise me since they usually aren’t covered under the majority of warranties. Other things that weren’t covered included: electrical problems, exhaust, modifications and similar items.

In the year that I owned the vehicle, I only went into the dealership – Passport Infiniti of Alexandria – once. And that was for them to look at the car for the ear-piercing screech that molested my ear every time I put the window up.

As usual, this trip to the dealership was a hassle. There were a lot of other people there with bigger problems, the service people weren’t very friendly and it wasn’t even remotely quick. When I went in, the service advisors didn’t talk to me for approximately five minutes and when they did, they said it would $150 just to look at the problem and an unknown amount to fix it.

Infinit's Service Reception, Photo by Yelp.com

Infinit’s Service Reception, Photo by Yelp.com

Upon hearing this, I calmly stated that I had an extended warranty that covered things that weren’t working properly, since the window would go up automatically and then come right down. The hangry (a precise amount of hungry and angry) looking service advisor stated that my warranty didn’t cover squeaks and rattles. I adamantly told him the screech wasn’t the major issue and that a screech isn’t really a squeak. Through his beady, little eyes I could see that he wasn’t amused. He shrugged me off and told me to go wait in the service department.

I waited and waited and waited. Two hours later, I was told that my vehicle was finished. The service sheet stated that they had cleaned and lubed the window tracks, which was interesting because that wasn’t where the noise was coming from. Since it was a warm day, the window had automatically stopped making the awful sound. My guess is, they didn’t do anything and happily claimed that they had fixed the problem.

Photo by Yelp.com

Infiniti’s Customer Waiting Jail Cell, Photo by Yelp.com

I’m not an idiot, so I went along with it. I also played they’re little game because the checkup didn’t cost me a penny. But that got me thinking, what would I pay $150 to get checked out?

The Infiniti’s a Japanese car, so it’ll go forever without missing a beat. Since things like brakes, tires, belts, oil changes, and other routine parts aren’t covered, there’s really no reason to have a warranty. I mean sure, the engine and transmission are covered under warranty, but when has one of those gone out before 100K miles?

The two problems I had – window screech and exhaust rattle – weren’t covered under the expensive warranty and both weren’t fixed. So the warranty on my Infiniti was completely useless. And I would go even further and say that warranties are not necessary for the majority of vehicles.

It’s the dealerships way to get back at you for getting a good deal and since you’re scared of doing your own work, you’ll pay any amount to feel safe. It’s a fake parachute ready to let you fall when you need it the most. If you really are that scared to turn a socket yourself, then by all means, buy a warranty. But be sure to read the fine and extra fine print. Because they may say ridiculous things like ‘squeaks and rattles aren’t covered.’

Photo by Joel Patel

Warranty Contract for 2003 Nissan Sentra, Photo by Joel Patel

So when should you buy a warranty?

  • After doing an insane amount of research on your vehicle
  • If you’re uncomfortable with working on your car
  • If you’re buying a high-end-luxury car
  • When you’re worried something big will go wrong

Doing thorough research before buying a car will and can save you thousands of dollars. I’ve been using Repairpal.com to see common repair costs, common problems, shops in my area and ask other vehicle owners questions. Check forums, ask Google, try to do everything you can to see how reliable your car is. If you have any doubts, get the warranty.

If you’ve never worked on a car before or don’t feel comfortable doing so, get the warranty. It won’t cover minor components that need to be changed on a regular basis, but it’ll make you feel safer.

And in this crazy unpredictable world, all of us want to feel a little safer.