Extended warranties of all sorts have always been a dicey proposition, but when it comes to extended auto warranties many don't even appear to be warranties at all.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster took aim at the industry this week by suing six companies that market the so-called warranties and warning the public that what is being pitched isn't what you end up with. He said the industry is "rife with fraud."
Koster said what consumers are actually buying into are limited "service contracts" or "automotive additives" deals rather than a traditional warranty. That was done to avoid consumer protections otherwise afforded by law, he said in a news release.
The contracts are filled with catches. Among them:
A 30 to 90 day (or 1,000 miles) timeframe when you can't make a claim.
Promotion of a 7-year, 100,000 miles warranty extension that doesn't note coverage is limited to the declining value of the car. (In other words, Koster said, "The coverage may soon be less than the price paid by the consumer for the contact).
Sending an additive to be put into your car immediately to activate coverage without noting that its use negates the ability to cancel.