Imagine you find yourself driving along the California coastline on Highway 1 just north of San Francisco. The cool ocean air drifts over the cliffs and in through your open windows. The waves break along the rocky shore below. It’s a perfect day for a road trip, and you’ve packed a picnic basket to enjoy at your favorite beach a few miles ahead. Suddenly with a clunk-thump, your car’s engine makes a funny noise – shaking the steering wheel a little bit. That didn’t sound good!
You slowly pull over onto the shoulder wondering what just happened. At any rate, trying to drive farther probably isn’t a good idea. You quickly dial the roadside assistance number you saved in your contacts. Help is on the way, and it’s time to put your vehicle service contract to work to get your wheels rolling again. Let’s talk about what vehicle service contracts are and how they can help you.
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About Vehicle Service Contracts
Vehicle service contracts (VSC) are similar to extended warranties and aftermarket service plans. They are auto repair products that can help car owners out when they are stranded on the road or need to fix or repair their vehicle. They usually include helpful, on-call services like towing and roadside assistance. A vehicle service contract works basically like an extension of the factory warranty. It can help you avoid paying too much out of pocket and fill the car repair coverage gaps created by an expired manufacturer or factory warranty.
The VSC coverage covers a lot of things that can go wrong with your vehicle. As long as you are properly maintaining your vehicle and doing things like changing the oil and replacing your brake pads, the VSC can cover the rest. You can buy a contract separately or attach it to another car product like your financed vehicle loan. As an add-on product, service contracts are usually attached or bundled into your car loan.
Digging into Service Contracts
Service Contracts Versus Extended Warranties
When it comes to comparing service contracts and extended warranties, it comes down to the provider how they are providing the services. They are often the same thing and include many of the same parts. However, different dealerships or service partners can call them different things according to their branded terminology. The thing to remember is that you do not need both a vehicle service contract and an extended warranty. Because they are so similar, you just need one or the other.
Types of Extended Warranties & Vehicle Service Contracts
Several types of extended warranties and vehicle service contracts may be available depending on the type of vehicle you have and the level of coverage you need. Talking to a qualified automotive representative, product or loan officer can help you figure out how to get the most coverage for your vehicle. The types of extended warranties and contracts include the following plans.
Limited Service Contracts
Limited contracts which cover a set number of parts, components, and vehicle systems.
Enhanced Service Contracts
Enhanced contracts which add-on additional parts and components to the limited plans. They can cover additional systems, electrical units, subsystems, and more.
Catastrophic Breakdown Service Contracts
Catastrophic contracts which specifically cover things like mechanical breakdowns from part failures. These contracts typically do not include tear and wear failures or breakage repair.
Bumper-to-bumper Service Contracts
Bumper-to-bumper contracts which cover service and repairs to almost everything not specifically included in the component exclusion list.
Common Vehicle Service Contract Included Parts
A vehicle service contract includes repair benefits which can help you fix and repair your vehicle. This can be very beneficial to help cover the cost when you have unforeseen problems which happen outside of the standard manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and recommendations. Commonly covered parts and components usually include damage from internally moving parts. For example, the VSC repairs can cover the following areas.
Gas & Diesel Engines
The coverage can cover problems caused by engine components like internally lubricated engine parts, intake, exhaust manifold, air filter, water pump, fuel pump, oil pan, and other related parts.
4x4 Transfer Cases
Plans can cover repairs for internal parts within the transfer cases on 4x4 off road vehicles.
Drive Axles & Drivetrain
Service plans can cover the internal parts of the drive axles and drivetrain components.
Factory Turbo & Superchargers
Plans can help cover repairs to factory equipped turbos and superchargers including their internal parts, spools, intakes, and other components.
Air Conditioning & Heating Systems
Repairs to the heater core, dryers, tubes, power modules, programmers, valves, switches, accumulator, pulley, sensors, and related replacement parts can be covered by the service plan.
Parts like arms, bushings, bars, stabilizer, mounts, coil springs, leaf springs, knuckles, spindles, steering dampener, sensors, controllers, compressor, relay, switches, seals, and related parts may fall under VSC plan coverage.
Steering & Control Systems
VSC coverage can help the car’s steering rack, pinion mounts, bushings, power steering hoses, couplings, steering column, bearings, couplers, motor, arms, tie rods, drag link, and related parts.
Coverage can help repair cooling system parts like belt tensioners, the radiator, the thermostat, oil cooler, fuel injectors, fuel injection rails, fan blade assembly, and coolant reservoir sensor.
Hybrid car parts like the IMA control unit for battery, IMA control unit, motor rotor assembly, PDU components, and related parts can be repaired through service plan coverage.
Gas & Diesel Fuel Systems
Service plans can help to repair gasoline fuel system parts like the throttle body, idle air control solenoid, idle air control motor, warm-up regulator, fuel tank, fuel sending unit, and fuel pump. They can also help to fix diesel fuel system parts including the fuel tank, fuel sending unit, fuel pump, high-pressure fuel pump, lift pump, accessory vacuum pump, injector pump, fuel injectors, fuel distributor, fuel pressure regulator, fuel water separator, and other related parts.
Electrical System & ECUs
Coverage can often be applied to repairs for electrical systems, wiring harnesses, electronic control units (ECUs), regulated components, and other related parts.
The brake system can be covered including brake power assist valves, bleeders, brake adjusters, backing plates, pins, valves, reservoirs, parking brake cable, brake fluid level sensor, springs clips,retainers, and other related parts which help to stop the car.
Seals & Gaskets
VSCs can cover sealing parts and components of other covered systems. These can include seals, valves, and gaskets of covered components that are designed to prevent the loss of necessary coolants, lubricants, and fluids.
Features Included with Vehicle Service Contracts
VSCs can Include Additional Options
Vehicle service contracts do more than just help repair things on your vehicle. They also have on-call services that help you when you find yourself stranded on the road or while your vehicle is in the shop a long way from home. These services can include towing, roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, and trip interruption payments.
Towing services are normally included in the VSC in case you are not able to continue driving to your destination. The towing service usually includes up to 25 miles of distance with the option to purchase additional mileage. This helps you get your vehicle to the nearest repair shop or mechanic.
Roadside assistance services provide help when you are stranded or having problems with your vehicle. The on-call services can include flat tire changes, battery jump starts, fuel delivery (without covering the fuel costs), lockout help, locksmith services, and related towing assistance.
Rental Reimbursement Coverage
In the event that you need a rental car when your vehicle is being repaired, a VSC can provide several days of rental reimbursement. There is usually a daily cost limit other factors related to the time it takes to fix your vehicle.
Trip Interruption Coverage
Your car trip is important. Your VSC can help you recover from the inconvenience of breakdowns while traveling with a daily allowance. This service usually applies when you are more than 100 miles away from home and is paid out to help with food and lodging expenses while your vehicle is in the shop.
Your VSC assistance and services can be transferred to your new car in the event you need to sell or trade-in your vehicle. Having a service contract can provide coverage when you need it for emergencies and peace of mind when you don’t.
Vehicle Service Contract FAQs
Have questions about your getting a vehicle service contract for your car? We might be able to help. Get Answers!
Vehicle service contracts are like extended warranties for your vehicle. They help to cover repair costs on qualifying parts after your car’s factory warranty ends.
This is specifically related to your VSC policy and the services rendered. Oftentimes, there are limits related to each service. For example with roadside assistance, you may be entitled to receive one service every few days.
Your vehicle service contract usually helps cover the vehicle’s main components and damage created by moving parts related to those main components. This includes things related to the engine, drivetrain, axles, and related systems. To qualify, those main components must have previously been properly maintained and in good working order.
Service contracts do not normally help with standard and routine maintenance scheduled items recommended by the manufacturer. This includes anything which is designed to wear out and be replaced like tires, brake pads, windshield wiper blades, fluids, oil changes, belts, and spark plugs.
Aftermarket modifications to your car are not normally covered by service contract plans. This is because they were not installed on the vehicle at the time of purchase. To cover aftermarket vehicle modifications and custom parts, you may be able to add insurance coverage to help you.
Not normally. Vehicle service contracts are focused on helping you with mechanical problems. Your car insurance should be used for problems related to your vehicle’s paint, bodywork, frame, doors, panels, exterior trim, and interior upholstery.
No, service contracts cannot normally cover a vehicle’s pre existing problems. The car must be in good working order prior to the repair to qualify for coverage.