So what exactly do used car warranties cover? The car, being used, is more likely to experience costly mechanical failures that will take a bite out of your pocket book. Does a used car warranty offer you any real protection at all?
If your used car warranty is an "as is" warranty, then you are out of luck. If you bought a used car from a dealership, in the Buyer's Guide, there will be a check box that says "as is." If that is checked, then you have basically no warranty coverage at all. Some states do not allow "as is" sales. A few other states stipulate that sellers must provide proper disclosure or even a signed "as is" contract does not absolve the dealership from all responsibility. In every state, used car dealerships are obligated to inform you what the words "as is" mean regarding used car warranties.
Used cars, when sold, are expected to meet certain quality standards. If the dealership sells you a car, then it is understood that the used car sold will serve a specific function. Granted that the terminology is vague enough to let a barn through, implied used car warranties offer a minimum amount of protection. If you bought a used car and you drove it home only to have it stall the next day, then technically the car has already served its purpose. State laws dictate what minimum standards a used car must meet, and with it comes your implied warranty coverage. A dealer may not push a complete lemon off on you. However, bear in mind that if the warranty check box in the Buyer's Guide has "as is" checked, then the dealership is absolved of any responsibility--some states do not permit this.
A warranty of merchantability is basically an implied warranty. All the standards that come with a manufacturer's warranty (drive train) are not covered under a warranty of merchantability. This is merely a guarantee that the car when bought will run as promised, and the promises will not include wear-and-tear and mechanical failure.
Used Car Extended Warranties:
These are the ones you want. Of course, coverage will vary depending on the company and the warranty. Every company operates using their own lingo: "bumper-to-bumper" may not mean what you think it means. If you know your used car has a transferable extended warranty, be sure to get the warranty documentation. In the contract, there will be a section listing what is excluded in the coverage. It will also stipulate where routine maintenance has to be done.
Used car dealerships are legally required to check on the Buyer's Guide what kind of warranty you are purchasing with a used car. Do not neglect this tidbit, as it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. If some form of warranty coverage is promised, then be sure to get it in writing: spoken promises are not legally binding in all states, and even if they are, you will have a hard time proving them. Also, private sellers are not required to provide a Buyer's Guide; if they claim a warranty exists, then make sure you get the papers from them.