We give tire and wheel protection warranties a thumbs down
Many new-car dealers offer to sell customers a tire and wheel protection “warranty” when the customer has finished up the process of negotiating a price for a new car. These after-sales offers, as they are called, are particularly tempting to new buyers who just shelled out tens of thousands of dollars for a new car. The instinct to protect that purchase is strong, and dealers know it. Here is why we say to resist the temptation and walk away.
Tire and wheel protection plans from dealers sound great when you are discussing them. The pitch is that the plan you buy will replace or repair your tire and or your rim if you hit something like a pot-hole or curb. Our experience is that is not always the case. Take Pamela for instance. She bought a protection package for her rims and tires on her premium sports coupe. However, when she needed the plan a few months after her purchase the dealership told her that her factory rims were so special nobody in the area could repair them. Rather than replace the rims, the dealer offered to refund the cost of the protection plan.
One reason that the plans are stressful to put to use is that tire and rim damage is very subjective. What you may feel is a danger the shop may say is just minor cosmetic damage. Then what? One plan buyer we knew had a tough time just getting a replacement tire after a puncture in the outside tread block. The dealer fought the replacement of the tire and then wanted to pro-rate the cost after the shop technician said repairing the tire would be too dangerous. The plans always seem so simple until one needs them.
We are sure there are many dealers who offer plans that are fair and have value in some cases. But how can one know? In defense of the protection plans, we have heard from some BMW owners that they used the plan to replace multiple tires and rims on the same vehicle with no fuss. However, after we looked into that issue more closely, we found that the tire manufacturers already offered replacement tires for the pricey run flats customers thought their special added plan was covering.
If you are considering a car that is so delicate it may suffer damaged wheels and tires, perhaps that model or brand is not for you? More and more, this is a moot point, since all automakers seem intent on offering only low-profile tires on top trim levels.
If your new car is one which you feel must be protected we still urge you to stop and not purchase while at the dealership. Instead, before you decide to buy a certain model and make, shop the plans by phone among multiple dealers of that brand of vehicle. At least then you are in the driver’s seat and can compare offerings and prices. If these plans are not transferable from one dealer to the next, we say that is a red flag indicating the plan you are considering is questionable.
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