Automotive - Should I get the extended warranty THIS TIME?

With the warranty on Mrs. Kunilou’s minivan due to end in a copule of months, the pleas from the manufacturer to purchase the extended warranty are becoming more shrill.

Normally, I don’t have much use for extended warranties, be it vehicles, appliances or electronics. However…

Just last week a tiny little piece broke off in Mrs. Kunilou’s transmission (um- her minivan’s transmission) and promptly tore up a bunch of other tiny little pieces. Fortunately, the new vehicle warranty covered everything.

It’s a 2000 Windstar – a check of NHTSA and other sites showed no pattern of transmission problems, but I fear that once you dig around inside a transmission, it will never, ever be quite normal again.

So, given the circumstance, do I bet $1,000 or so (payable in easy installments) that I’ll get the money on the warranty back over the next 3-4 years?

As you know it is just insurance for a major or sometimes minor repair. A new alternator or water pump can cost about $300.00. If it covers all the major working parts and is for 4 years I think I would probably purchase it. If it offered by Ford it think I would more faith in the policy.We bought a warranty for our van ( Chrysler )when we first got it and it did pay for itself when the transmission went south.

Lotteries are statistically bad financial deals, but if you happen to win it’s great.

Extended warranties are statistically bad financial deals, but if you happen to have a covered failure they’re great.

Mechanically speaking, I don’t believe there’s a compelling reason to get the warranty. If the tranny repair was done properly in all respects, and rebuilt by a competent facility or replaced with a Ford-rebuilt unit, I don’t think it’s significantly more likely to give trouble in the future.

General rule of thumb (more or less echo what has already been mentioned):

Any warranty you have to pay extra for is a bad deal for the consumer. The only reason you are getting hounded is not because they’re being nice and looking out for you, they are out to get your money.

Seriously - If it was such a good deal for the consumer (and hence cost the company money) do you think they’d be hounding you?

This goes equally with “extended purchase protection” type warranties for appliances and electronics.

Yeah, sure take it:
"Ford Motor Company Has Recalled 2000-2001 Ford Windstar

(SafetyAlerts) - Ford Motor Company Has Recalled 2000-2001 Ford Windstar because it may lead to a fire.

1999-2000 Ford Windstar Automobiles Recalled

Detroit, MI (SafetyAlerts) - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published a recall affecting the 1999-2000 model year Ford Windstar automobiles. The affected models were manufactured between February 1999 and February 2000.

Certain Windstar minivans built with instrument clusters without a “message center” fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 118, “Power-operated Window, Partition, and Roof Panel Systems.”

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co. has recalled thousands of minivans to check for a missing sealant that could cause a short circuit and lead to fire.

The recall affects 413,042 Windstars from the 2000 and 2001 model years in the United States, Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said Thursday. The missing body sealer could allow water, dirt or salt to get into the right rear passenger compartment.

“If that occurred, there was potential for corroding an electrical connector related to the trailer tow module’s wire harness,” Nissen said. “The corrosion could then short-circuit.”

Recalls hinge in no way whatsoever with Warranties. A vehicle could be 10 years old and well out of any warranty but still be recalled by the manufactuer.

Yep, recalls are fixed at no charge independent of warranty coverage. And they’re quite common, though only a few make the news, so the existence of recalls is not damning.

I think he’s saying that the existence of those recalls indicates that the Ford Windstar is a Piece of Crap.

I just took back a Windstar on a three year lease. In those three years (only about 25,000 miles), I had:

  • A transmission that destroyed itself at 10,000 miles
  • Two power steering pump failures
  • Two major fluid leaks.
  • failed taillights
  • An intermittent rear sensing system
  • A horn that rarely worked
  • The power seat completely failed
  • Numerous fit-and-finish problems like stripped screws in the headliner.

And no doubt other things I can’t remember. It was the most unreliable vehicle I ever owned, and I had a habit once of owing older sports cars. My advice: sell the Windstar. (-:

But if I had bought it instead of leasing, I would NOT have purchased the extended warranty. They really are a huge cash cow for the dealerships. If I were worried about repair costs, I’d just take the cost of the warranty and put it in a ‘repair fund’ and let it collect interest. Chances are that you’ll come out ahead.

Also, read the fine print of your extended warranty. You may be surprised to find out how little is really covered. Trust me - Ford accountants and Actuarials have gone through the repair records with a fine-tooth comb, and have selected exactly the amount of coverage that guarantees them a very tidy profit.

But in the end, it comes down to how much you are willing to pay to eliminate risk in your life. Insurance, whether life or extended vehicle insurance, is a product - you are paying a premium to eliminate risk. Just be aware that the premium is pretty stiff.

Oh, I didn’t mention that early wear required that the front-end of the van’s suspension be rebuilt at about 18,000 miles. The thing needed new ball joints, tie rod ends, and other pieces. Without the rebuild, it would chatter when going around corners. The brakes were also showing premature wear.

“I think he’s saying that the existence of those recalls indicates that the Ford Windstar is a Piece of Crap.”

Gently. Recalls take time to approve. I think that they just don’t recall a car for something right away. No, they have to get a lot of cars with an issue, then add up things & see if there should be a recall. In the meantime, a warrentee might cover this stuff? That’s quite a list you got there Sam.

Actually we have kept a repair fund going for years, but with three old cars, and the warranty on the fourth ending soon (because we have five drivers in the family and there’s next to no public transit around here, that’s why) it’s almost impossible to put money into the fund faster than we take it out.

As I said in the OP, I normally don’t go for extended warranty. My real question was, do you think a major repair at only 25K is a warning of things to come?

What’s the extended warrenty limits?

I bought (for $1500 CAN) an extended warrenty for my Matrix. It’s 200,000 KM (120K Miles) and for 7 years (but at my rate it wll be done in 5).

Trying not to bash here but my past 2 cars (a Pontiac Bonneville and Plymouth Voyger) both would have saved me money if I had an extended warrenty so all my future cars will have one. The Voyager (a 92) went through 2 complete rebuilt transmissions, plus a new engine and maybe a waterpump every other year that even with the waterpump changes alone I would have saved money.

If your tranny is bad at 25K miles, it’s possible other parts are from the same batch and might cause some problems. Do you expect to put a lot of miles in the next 4 years?

The manager at the transmission shop I deal with opined that when the tranny was fixed under warranty, it probably just got a repair of the specific failure, and not a complete overhaul. He also said that those transmissions are notorious for problems, and suggested that the extended warranty would be a good idea in this instance.

Before I called him, I found this site - - which has some reviews of 2000, 1999, and 1998 Windstars (keep clicking on the “next” button to page through them). Some are favorable, some are not. You might also want to go to Google and enter <2000 windstar transmission problems reliability> to get some more info.

Often, an exteded warranty will cost $1500-$2000+ for full coverage. Lets say in the last year of your warranty you need a tranny rebuild that costs $1400. Was it still a wise investment?

I would recommend everyone check out for the lowdown on the “reliability” of a vehicle they are thinking of. IIRC, the Windstar isn’t exactly an icon of reliability.

There are always instances where an extended warranty would be a great idea for the consumer if they had known there would be problems. However, extended warranties in general are not a good idea for the consumer. There will always be examples of when it would be a good idea, but the extra $$$ usually goes straight into the pockets of the mfg or dealer.

Great analogy. However, if your piece of mind alone is worth the extra dough and you can afford it, go for it. If not, I wouldn’t bother. Also worth noting, remember that extended warranties won’t cover regular wearing parts.

Actually, FWIW, when I bought my Cherokee new in 1998 I opted for the extended warranty as I was a little leary too. It hasn’t been in the shop at all and it is also isn’t one of the most reliable vehicles according to used car reports.