Consider the cost of an extended warranty on your car before buying

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Dear Driving for Dollars,
I’ve been really happy with my car, and I’m not anxious to get rid of it, but I’m worried. The warranty is almost up, and I’m afraid I’ll be faced with an expensive repair — you know, Murphy’s law and all. Is it possible to get another auto warranty after the one that came with my car expires?
— Lance

Dear Lance,
First of all, keep in mind that today’s cars are very reliable and are designed to last well beyond 100,000 miles, as long as regular maintenance is followed. That said, I understand your worry, especially when certain repairs can be very costly. In fact, in a study of over 1 million car repairs in 2015, CarMD found that the 2nd most common repair — replacing the catalytic converter — costs $1,153.49 on average in the U.S.

COMPARE RATES: Find the lowest rate on a used car loan.

So yes, buying an extended warranty (also called a vehicle service contract) for your car can bring you some peace of mind. Purchasing such a warranty, however, can be a challenge, as there are some fly-by-night companies in the business, while buying through a dealer can result in a substantial markup.

One company, AUL Corp., which has been in business for over 25 years providing these warranties to dealers (who then sell them to consumers), now has a consumer division. Through Trustmark Warranty, consumers who own cars with manufacturer warranties that have expired can buy an extended warranty online and with no middle man, saving some money in the process. This approach makes buying an extended car warranty easier and more secure.

Keep in mind that when you buy an extended warranty, you are essentially paying for repairs upfront — repairs that may never be necessary. Instead, you might want to put aside some money each month (especially when you are done with your car payments) to save up so you are set if a pricey repair becomes necessary.

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If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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