Service contracts, are they worth buying?Posted on March 28th, 2006 7 comments
I got a great question from reader Betsy in Ann Arbor, Michigan…
Am just about to take delivery of a new Prius (after waiting for 9 months for the “baby!”), and am trying to find out from other Prius owners if a service contract is really necessary. I know that car dealerships love to sell them, but I’ve never regretted not buying one before. Do you know of a site I could post this question?
Now, speaking only for myself, I’m the kind of person who always buys the service contract if for no other reason, peace of mind. I have to admit, I don’t actually know if it makes sense, financially. But psychologically, it makes all the sense in the world to me.
Please take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments section if you would please. Let’s help out a new Prius owner.
Depends, what contract are you asking about, and where do you live?
(The Southeast and Gulf States Toyota regions are different than the rest of mainland US, which is different than Toyota Canada or Toyota UK or…)
There’s also the Toyota Extra Care Vehicle Service Agreement (extended service/extended warranty) vs. the Toyota Prepaid Maintenance Plan (you pay for your regularly scheduled services (such as oil changes) ahead of time).
The extended warranty is basically a type of insurance, and it is up to the owner to decide if it is worth it to them. I’d highly suggest staying with the Toyota Extra Care from Toyota Financial Services (if in mainland US), and NOT to go to a third party warranty company or pay for a “if you don’t use it, you get all your money back at the end of the term” insurance on the warranty. You can haggle on MSRP, and you have until your basic 3 years/36,000 mile warranty expires to decide if you want it. To note, the longest term 7 year/100,000 mile/$0 deductible version can be found at several dealers for less than $1000, so do shop around. More info at: http://www.vfaq.net/docs/ExtendedWarranty.html
As for the prepaid maintenance plan, whether it is worth it to you depends on the price you haggle the plan down to, and what the going rate is for the labor and services at the dealers near you. Call the financial departments of several dealerships, and get the best pricing you can. (Also try the dealers in the above URL, as they may be able to get you good pricing on the prepaid maintenance as well.) Call the dealership service departments of where you may go for service, and ask them what the going rate is for the 5k, 15k, 30k, 45k services, and extrapolate from there. If you have trouble remembering to go in for service, or if you don’t want to worry about how much a service will cost you later, or you don’t have a roadside assistance plan somewhere else, those factors may help sway you to get the prepaid maintenance. But if you like your local service shop or quicky lube, or are a DIY, the regular servicing isn’t that difficult and you may be able to do it less expensively than at the dealer. Check the US Prius Scheduled Maintenance Guide at: http://smg.toyotapartsandservice.com/
US information and MSRP can be found from:
Thanks for this info! My new Prius should be arriving any day now and I’ve also been wondering what to do about the extended warranty. It’s good to know that you have the lifetime of the regular warranty to shop around and decide. My dealership wants $1500 for the extended warranty and claims it’s refundable if not used (but really, how often does that happen?). I’ll definitely be shopping around now!
For routine Prius maintenance, I would emphasize that this is in many respects a conventional front wheel drive vehicle, so any competent mechanic can perform most of the work. There are exceptions, based on the maint schedule document linked by Michelle (above). These might be better handled by a good Toyota shop, even though fees could be higher. Specifically:
30k mile intervals, inspection of fuel system connections and the two coolant systems.
60k intervals, inspect valve clearances.
100k intervals, replace both coolants, inspect transmission fluid (note – I think subsequent coolant changes are to be at 50k intervals).
120k intervals, replace spark plugs. (note – spark plugs are replaced on shorter intervals in some states to comply with the emissions warranty).
For any brake replacements, you will be tied to Toyota because their specialized tool is required to “bleed” the hydraulic system.
Naturally, if anything “Pruisy” goes wrong, a good Toyota shop is the best place to start. I do maintenence DIY, but every 30k miles I bring a bag of cookies to my favorite Toyota shop and let them do their stuff. If time permits, then I visit the sales floor and see if they have any hybrids to test drive! Also its a good chance to “educate” the sales staff.
This is a long way of saying that most routine maintenance can be accomplished for less than Toyota’s rates, if you are so inclined. My personal opinion is that a prepaid maintenance contract w/Toyota is not a good value.
I purchased an extended warranty with the Prius in 2001. Have made no claims against it, but others have reported using theirs. This boils down to personal preference. If I were buying a 2006, I would not purchase EW. The technology is pretty mature now.
Finally, welcome aboard Betsy. You are going to like it a lot.
Just found the Prius Owners Group website and would like to know HOW to submit a question.
I live in Canada. I owned several Toyotas new and used. I rarely had repairs that were due ahead of time. The only one I had more trouble with was a 1982 Cressida I had bought used and had various owners previous to me. As far as getting additional Toyota warranty for the new 2010 Prius, I might go for the 5 or 6 year one mainly because of the battery tray and hybrid components which, if it fails, could be quite expensive to change or repair. Rustproofing for all of you in the snow belt areas is also a worthwile investment.
My wife and I have bought our first Prius with the extended warrantee. It is a 2007 with 47K. I work 600 miles away, and she is by herself. It is a peace of mind issue for her. But I have never bought an extended warrantee before. I just don’t believe in it. Do anyone have a high mileage Prius? Is it really so expensive now to own one? I like the statement that the technology has matured. I think this one can go many miles like my other cars.
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