As much as we may try to protect them, our cars are not invulnerable to the elements. While you can drive carefully to avoid accidents and keep up with maintenance to make sure your powertrain works the way it's supposed to, there are some things you can’t fight.
Oxidization, or rust, is one of these things. Whether it is a result of salted streets or scratched paint, sometimes car wax just isn’t enough to keep corrosion at bay, and that’s where corrosion warranties come into play.
You’re probably asking, “How valuable are corrosion warranties?” Well, it all depends on the underwriting, the vehicle you drive, and the environment you live in. While every situation is a bit different, the key is understanding what you’re getting into. This breakdown details everything you need to know about corrosion warranties.
When you get a new car, the last thing you’re thinking about is rust on the surface. However, if you want to plan ahead, it is an important consideration. Most warranties cover collision, though the definition of that term varies. As a result, it is essential to get a firm understanding of what you can expect.
- Naturally-occurring corrosion (OEM warranty): When buying a new car, the warranty will usually cover rust and corrosion that occurs through no fault of the driver. This means that the vehicle needs to have been compromised by natural means. Scratched or chipped paint often leads to rust, and the warranty is meant to cover the cost of repairs. The warranty extends for a limited amount of time and mileage, differing based on the vehicle (usually 12 years or 100,000 miles).
- Add-on corrosion protection: Often, dealerships will offer supplemental coverage, which includes rust protection. The terms are typically the same as a standard factory warranty, though the agency offering them differs. This is more commonly found for new vehicles, though in some instances (depending on the make, model, and condition), it can extend to pre-owned cars. Coverage extends to corrosion on parts like battery terminals, a common issue in vehicles.
- A warranty prevents you from spending money on largely aesthetic repairs.
- Addressing corrosion promptly can prevent it from spreading further.
- A warranty lets you operate vehicles in more environments since climate can be a major cause of rust.
- Most corrosion warranties include mileage limits, and rust won’t usually appear early.
- These warranties typically come with time restrictions, limiting the utility of the warranty.
- Corrosion warranties offer mainly aesthetic advantages as opposed to savings on functional repairs.
Depending on the warranty, the vehicle type, and the dealership, the specific terms of corrosion coverage will vary. When reading through your warranty, it is important to determine the exact meaning of the word corrosion as it relates to the underwriting. Rust is common, especially when you use the vehicle over a long period or drive in rougher climates. However, it needs to cover the rust damage you are most likely to encounter for the warranty to be worthwhile.
This type of coverage is the less comprehensive option. Check if your corrosion protection clause only protects you against rust perforation. It means that, for the warranty to kick in, the rust needs to eat through the metal completely. Because of this, even if the rust is visible on the chassis, unless it is very deep (to the point of compromising the metal) it typically won’t be covered.
While coverage from rust perforation is great, waiting for holes to develop so your warranty can kick in is not a smart move. Even minor corrosion can cause functional problems. Often, the cost of rust repair is low enough that many choose to deal with the issue upfront instead of relying on their warranty. However, provided your deductible is reasonable and you qualify to use the warranty to buffer the cost, then it can be a helpful service to have.
Most plans extend at least five years, with the maximum duration being 12 years. Either the mileage will be unlimited or restricted to 100,000 miles. Plans with more advanced coverage come with a higher price tag, though they usually include more than just corrosion protection.
This type of coverage is the more comprehensive protection. Surface corrosion refers to any rust that is visible on the vehicle. It includes any damage to the chassis, resulting from everything from road salt to scratches to the paint. Keep in mind that these may be subject to other clauses within the warranty, meaning the size of the damage may be restricted to four inches.
Visible rust extends to issues with the interior of the vehicle. As a result, you can extend the surface corrosion coverage to issues related to the engine and the battery terminal. With this phrasing, so long as you can see the rust on the car, the coverage should take care of the rest once you pay your deductible.
Usually, it will extend up to 12 years, with an unlimited mileage cap. Less thorough plans provide coverage for as little as five years and 100,000 miles. The nature of the corrosion warranty depends largely on the make and model of the vehicle in question. Keep in mind that more thorough coverage typically comes with a higher price point.
What We Like
There are quite a few things that we like about corrosion warranties, namely the ability to save you money on aesthetic repairs. Often, drivers will allow rust to sit, particularly if it doesn't compromise the vehicle's function. This is even truer if the repair is strictly out of pocket. However, if left unattended, corrosion can spread and result in a much costlier fix.
We also appreciate that corrosion protection extends beyond aesthetics: it covers issues related to corroded battery terminals and engine issues. Corrosion in these areas can result in serious problems with the vehicle's performance, even compromising the driver's safety. With a corrosion warranty in place, it is easier to address these issues before the damage is irreversible.
Finally, we like the peace of mind that comes with corrosion warranties. Many climates can cause rust on vehicles through no fault of the operator. From excess humidity to damage from road salt, sometimes corrosion is unavoidable. Warranty protection lets the driver park their car confidently, without worrying about extra expenses due to unavoidable corrosion.
What We Don’t Like
While some aspects of corrosion warranties are favorable, there are still a few things that we don’t like. One issue is with the mileage limits placed on many warranty agreements. Rust doesn’t happen overnight, so when the coverage lapses before it is likely to be needed, it raises a red flag. While some plans have unlimited mileage, others only extend to 100,000 miles (around the time where surface corrosion is likely).
The warranties often come with time restrictions, too. Though this is standard procedure for any extended coverage, it also means that the warranty may not still be in effect when you need it. Some plans only protect the vehicle for five years, and it is not very likely that rust will happen within this time. However, other plans cover the car for a dozen years, making it far more worthwhile.
Finally, the phrasing on certain corrosion protection underwriting requires extra attention. Sure, rust perforation sounds like good coverage, but the corrosion has to eat all the way through the metal to be covered. Conversely, surface coverage is far more reasonable since it covers scratches and damage of an aesthetic nature. The key is checking the wording and ensuring that you are getting the protection you need.
Common Repair Costs
Some of the most common issues and repair costs associated with corrosion are on the chassis, particularly the lower part of the frame. Other components include the engine and battery terminals. If your vehicle gets scratched, then any exposed metal is vulnerable to rust and corrosion. Depending on your location and the vehicle in question, you can expect different issues with corrosion.
Each vehicle and warranty is unique, offering different coverage related to rust. Common vehicles that encounter rust and corrosion include:
- Land Rovers: The warranty covers the bodywork necessary due to rust damage, specifically on the chassis panels. If left unattended, the corrosion can spread throughout the body of the vehicle.
- Maserati: Up to 49,709 miles, the company warranty provides coverage for rust-related issues. Be sure that the vehicle isn’t recalled due to the issue since this occurred on the 2007 Maserati Quattroporte Sedan in a way that potentiated loss of control.
- Suzuki: While these vehicles are built to withstand engine corrosion, all chassis are subject to scratches. The warranty should cover issues related to surface scratches, provided it falls within the agreed-upon timeline.
- Volkswagens: Often lying low to the ground, in areas with lengthy winters, these vehicles are vulnerable to rust resulting from salt on the roads. Be sure that you adhere to the terms of your warranty to make sure you can access the coverage.
- Mini Coopers: The most common type of corrosion with these vehicles is in the subframe structure. Provided you have comprehensive corrosion protection, it should cover repairs relating to this issue.
- Porsches: A high-end vehicle, the main focus of rust protection is on the aesthetics. Any chassis can get scratched, an issue that can lead to corrosion. Due to the quality of the vehicle, repairs can be costly, making warranty coverage useful.
It’s common to have questions related to getting extended warranty coverage. While the specific underwriting of warranties differs based on the provider, some facts remain true across the board. The key is doing thorough research and getting a full understanding of what to expect. To assist, we’ve addressed some of the most common inquiries below.
Q. Can you cancel a corrosion warranty?
You can cancel a corrosion warranty at any time before the coverage itself lapsing. Simply contact the company that holds the contract, verify your identity, and follow the steps set forth by the customer service department.
Q. How much does a corrosion warranty cost?
The price of a warranty varies based on the vehicle and the dealership through which you’re purchasing the car. Since most warranties cover corrosion, it’s easier to cite the standard price of warranties to at least a moderate extent. You can expect to pay between $1,200 and $1,500 for extended warranty coverage.
Q. Can I get a refund on a corrosion extended car warranty?
As with all extended warranties, you can cancel the coverage at any point in time. Upon cancellation, you will receive a prorated refund. Contact the customer service department of your warranty provider to complete the cancellation.
Are Corrosion Warranties Worth It?
The merit of any warranty is a matter of risk assessment. Comprehensive corrosion warranties are worth the investment if you live in an area prone to humidity or that has heavy winters. Since rust can cause substantial issues if left unchecked, it is often a worthwhile investment. As a result, if the manufacturer warranty on your vehicle does not cover corrosion, it can be a very helpful investment.