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CARCHEX Review – Extended Car Warranty & Inspection Service

By David Bakke

carchex logoWhen you consider that the biggest purchase most people make in their lives is a home, it makes perfect sense to invest extra money in a home inspection and home insurance. Despite the somewhat high cost, it is crucial to protect your investment.

Next to a home, an automobile is the second-biggest purchase you are likely to make in your life, and just like a home purchase, it’s important to make sure you get what you pay for and protect your investment. So if you’re looking for an extended warranty or a pre-purchase car inspection, consider CARCHEX.

How It Works

CARCHEX offers two products: extended warranty plans, and pre-purchase car inspections.

Extended Warranty

The process of getting a warranty quote is fairly simple: Enter your name and contact information, as well as the year, make, model, and mileage of the vehicle, and wait for a CARCHEX representative to call with your quote (you need the auto’s VIN in order to get an exact quote). Or, you can opt to receive your quote via live chat. Either way, the rep will explain to you the details of coverage, such as the term and price, and what the warranty covers.

While waiting for a rep to contact you with the options he or she thinks are best, it’s important to investigate all of your options. CARCHEX offers 21 different warranties across five different categories, from Bronze coverage to Titanium coverage, with terms from three to six years. Warranty specifics and coverage limitations depend on which warranty you choose, but most cover the engine, transmission, drive axles, seals and gaskets, and more.

Keep in mind that the higher the level of coverage, and the longer the term you select, the higher the price. In most cases, you have a choice of a $50 or $100 deductible, and some warranties have no deductible whatsoever. You can make a payment over the phone or via live chat, and all major credit and debit cards are accepted.

Pre-Purchase Car Inspection

For a pre-purchase car inspection, you must enter the zip code where you plan to purchase your vehicle, plus the vehicle information (year, make, and model). Then you choose one of two packages:

  • Silver Package. The Silver Package, which starts at $109.95, comes with a 155-point inspection which checks for dents, scratches, rust, missing parts, oil leaks, electrical issues, and drive train performance. The vehicle inspection specialist also takes the car on a short road test to verify transmission and engine operation.
  • Gold Package. When you choose the Gold Package, which starts at $119.95, you get the same 155-point inspection, along with a vehicle history report. This contains information on any structural or accident damage reported on the vehicle, in addition to ownership and title history. It also includes service records, airbag deployment information, and state emissions inspection results.

The exact price for each plan depends on the type of vehicle and where it is located. After you choose your plan, you must enter in general information regarding the vehicle, seller, purchaser, and your credit card information. A CARCHEX mechanic then contacts the seller to set up a time and place for the inspection. It’s usually completed within two to three business days and performed by ASE-certified mechanics. When your inspection is ready, it is sent to you via email.

carchex screenshot

Key Features

  • Instant Quotes. With just a few pieces of information, you can instantly get a quote on an extended warranty plan or details on a pre-purchase car inspection. CARCHEX also provides detailed instructions on what to do to file a warranty claim, and locations where you can find certified mechanics.
  • Additional Services. CARCHEX also offers help on finding auto insurance for your car. Just enter in your zip code and you are provided with the top companies in your area.
  • FAQ Section. If you have a question, check out the FAQ section. Most of the questions I had were answered here.
  • Customer Support. Email, phone, and live chat are all available. Hours are 9am to 9pm Monday through Friday, and on Saturday from 10am to 4pm EST.
  • Secure Transfer of Information. CARCHEX uses 256-bit secure sockets layer encryption, so your personal information is safe and secure. However, be advised that according to CARCHEX’s privacy policy, it may disclose personal information such as your name, physical address, and email address to third-party vendors.

Advantages

Both products come with a variety of features and benefits.

Extended Warranty

  1. Competitive Prices. I submitted the information for a car I recently purchased. The dealership where I bought it was pushing hard for me to purchase a one-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty at a cost of $1,800. The quote I received for a five-year warranty from CARCHEX was just slightly more than $1,800.
  2. Multiple Payment Plans. If you can’t pay all at once, interest-free payment options are available from 6 to 18 months for the extended warranty. There is no credit check involved, and this option is available to all CARCHEX customers.
  3. Convenient Warranty Services. The warranty can be used with any ASE-licensed repair facility in the U.S., and CARCHEX pays the bill in full. You do not have to pay it and wait to be reimbursed. Also, the warranty is transferable, and you can request a prorated refund down the road if you’d like to cancel.
  4. Additional Benefits. The warranty plan comes with roadside assistance in the event of a lockout or flat tire, or in case you run out of gas. It also offers $30 per day for a car rental (up to five days), and up to $100 in towing assistance.
  5. Refund/Price Match Options. You can get a full refund within the first 30 days, or if you find a warranty at a better price, CARCHEX will match that price (or refund your money if they can’t match it).
  6. Solid Customer Support. Email, phone, and live chat are all available, and the reps are helpful and courteous.

Pre-Purchase Car Inspection

  1. Comprehensive Inspection. The inspection report includes details on the body, interior, audio system, electrical system, under the hood, gauges, and more. You also get a set of up-close photos of the car, including seats, wheels, trunk, and exterior.
  2. Trustworthy Service. The inspections are completed by ASE-certified mechanics. This means the mechanic has been certified by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence, and is generally regarded as being highly skilled.
  3. Convenient and Quick Results. The process for ordering a vehicle inspection report takes only a few minutes, and you don’t need to accompany the mechanic during the inspection.

carchex inspection sample report

Disadvantages

Even with all of these benefits, there are some downsides to be aware of.

Extended Warranty

  1. Limited Coverage. The warranty that was recommended to me claimed to be bumper-to-bumper. However, it didn’t cover paint, carpet, regular maintenance items, body work, interior, or any preexisting conditions.
  2. Expensive Processing Fee. If you choose a payment plan for your warranty, CARCHEX charges you a one-time processing fee on the down payment. It ranges from $50 to $150 depending upon the length of the payment plan, and is due in full at sign-up. This may negate the convenience of the payment plan, but there is no fee if the amount is paid in full.
  3. Lengthy Waiting Period. There is both a 30-day and a 1,000-mile waiting period before the warranty goes into effect. This is very important, as claims made before this waiting period will be denied.

Pre-Purchase Car Inspection

  1. Limited Value of Vehicle Inspection. If you contact your preferred auto repair shop, or if you personally know a mechanic, you can likely get an inspection performed for less money. Some may even do it for free.
  2. No Guarantee. The inspection offers no guarantees. For example, if there is an internal issue with the transmission or engine, the inspector is likely not to catch it. If a future problems arises because of this, you would have no recourse against CARCHEX.
  3. No Weekend Service. Inspections are only performed during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. If you find a great deal on a car over the weekend but have to wait on a vehicle inspection, the car may already be gone by the time you can schedule the inspection.

Final Word

You must proceed with caution before purchasing a third-party warranty for any product whatsoever. For example, with CARCHEX, you might miss the 30-day, 1,000-mile waiting period. So be sure to go through the fine print of any warranty before you sign on the bottom line.

Furthermore, though the vehicle inspection report is comprehensive, you may have less expensive options available to you via a local mechanic. That said, it pays to do your due diligence when buying a car, and CARCHEX can help you do that with an extended warranty or pre-purchase inspection.

Have you had any personal experience with CARCHEX?

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • http://everythingfinanceblog.com/ Charlotte@EverythingFinance

    We have always bought our extended warranties thru the dealership on new cars. Can’t say I have ever bought a used car. My parents bought my first car and it was a used car, but since then I have always bought new and been very lucky with rapairs.

    • Davidbakke

      Charlotte–

      Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  • CHARLOTTE1425

    I had a auto warranty from carchex. first off they lied to me. People dont understand that all they do is sell auto warranties b/c when i called them for my claim they told me to call the administrator. I asked the guy so what is it that carchex does???! he said we sell auto warranties. we dont service the customers out of 30 days. ALL THEY WANT IS YOUR MONEY. THE ADMINISTRATOR DENIED MY CLAIM FOR THE SUSPENSION PUMP THAT I WAS TOLD WOULD BE COVERED BY RYAN LANDSMAN. HES A LIAR AND A PIECE OF ***T. I DONT KNOW HOW THESE PEOPLE SLEEP AT NIGHT I PAID $3600.00 FOR THE PLAN AND ONLY GOT REFUNDED $1487.00 PLUS I HAD TO PAY FOR THE REPAIR, IM READY TO HAVE A MENTAL BREAKDOWN FROM ALL THIS.

    HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT!!!!

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