If you have a car with an expiring new vehicle warranty or drive something that's more than a few years old, you have likely thought about getting an extended warranty.
This article will talk about the coverage offered by ASC Warranty (Arkansas-based Auto Services Company, Inc). Before we get into what does an ASC warranty cover, let's first look at vehicle service contracts in general.
What Is A Vehicle Service Contract?
A vehicle service contract (VSC) is an agreement that promises to correct specific problems that may arise with a vehicle over a set period or mileage after new car coverage has expired. Also called an extended warranty or mechanical breakdown insurance, a service contract may be administered through auto manufacturers or third-party companies like ASC.
Depending on the plan, the contract may be purchased directly through the warranty company or through a dealer (as is the case with ASC).
All service contracts require that covered cars receive maintenance per the manufacturer's recommendation. This schedule must be followed to the letter so that a warranty company doesn't have an excuse to deny coverage.
For example, if your car's oil was changed 1,000 miles after the automaker's recommended schedule and an engine problem arises that can be traced to failed lubrication, the warranty company may choose not to honor coverage.
Quality of Replacement Parts
The details of the service contract will spell out the specifics, but some service contracts mandate that priority for replacement parts is given to remanufactured components or "compatible" third-party components. New OEM parts may only be provided as a last resort.
Some warranty companies will look for any reason to deny coverage, including pre-existing conditions or problems with your car. For example, if a torn boot cover leads to a failed CV joint, the warranty company may claim that the damaged boot cover was a pre-existing condition and therefore refuse to pay for the repair of the CV joint.
Many service contracts can be transferred to the subsequent owner of a covered car. In most cases, this will require a fee (typically $100) and only applies when you directly sell the vehicle to a private party. When you trade in your car or sell it to a dealer, coverage goes away.
Some service contracts allow for a pro-rated refund if you have not used coverage and want to discontinue the plan. For example, this feature is ideal if you're going to get rid of your car halfway through your service contract period.
Pay attention if the service contract you are considering will pay the repair shop directly for covered repairs or only offers a reimbursement process.
Your service contract will specify where you can go to have your car repaired. Some warranty providers are very restrictive, while others (like ASC) allow for using any ASE-certified repair facility, including dealers.
Keep in mind that it's a good idea to use an approved facility with experience in dealing with service contracts. It's not unusual for a service shop to jump through some hoops to get a warranty company to agree to pay for certain repairs.
Types of Coverage
Most warranty companies will offer two types of coverage: specific and exclusionary. Specific coverage does exactly what it says and only covers repairs for precisely what is detailed in the contract, nothing more. Depending on the problem, the warranty company may only cover some parts and related labor charges while you have to pay for the rest of the repair.
Exclusionary plans are the most expensive types of vehicle service contracts and are similar to new car coverage. These plans are the opposite of specific coverage. In an exclusionary agreement, the warranty company will detail what is NOT covered, and this is usually a small list of exceptions.
Typically, these exclusions will involve fit and finish issues, fluids like oil, consumables like tires and wiper blades, and a handful of other components such as infotainment systems. Additionally, maintenance tasks are not included in exclusionary plans.
As with any contract, always read through the terms and conditions. In the case of a vehicle service contract, read through it multiple times and question everything. If you are uncertain about something, you may find it wise to ask your questions via email or chat (instead of over the phone or in-person), so you have documentation about these inquiries. In other words, if in doubt, don't take anyone's word for it.
With all that said about vehicle contracts, let's look at what ASC has to offer.
About ASC Warranty
Unlike numerous warranty companies that suddenly appear (and disappear) overnight, ASC has been around since 1986. So, clearly, they have come up with a sustainable business model. In the warranty game, longevity is essential.
You don't want to buy a vehicle service contract only to find that the company backing the protection is a scam or out of business. Additionally, ASC is insured by 'A’-rated American Bankers Insurance Company, adding to its legitimacy.
Unlike other warranty companies that bombard consumers with "instant quote" ads, ASC policies can only be purchased through car dealers. That's bad and good. On the negative side, this means adding an intermediary to the transaction, and, of course, doing business with a car dealer can be an interesting experience in itself.
On the plus side, you may be able to shop between dealers for the best price on an ASC Warranty plan. Regrettably, ASC likes to do business like it is still in the 1980s as their website is without a dealer locator. Instead, you have to be connected to an "area representative" who can help you find a participating dealer.
ASC Warranty Reviews
Checking out reviews before buying something is standard practice these days. Unfortunately, checking out ASC reviews may not be helpful as consumer reviews run the gamut from "Horrific experience" to "amazing warranty company." You don't know what to believe. If you're like many consumers, you'll ignore the extreme examples (both positive and negative) and look at what people in the middle have to say.
What Does An ASC Warranty Cover?
As with many aftermarket warranty companies, ASC offers various plans that provide different levels of coverage. Terms range from three months/3,000 miles to 96 months/120,000 miles and begin.
- ASC's basic plan begins with Drivetrain "Plus" Coverage. Under this plan, your car's powertrain (engine, transmission, and drive axles) is covered. Some elements of the cooling and electrical systems are also protected.
- Next-tier coverage is the Platinum Drivetrain plan which adds the air conditioning system to what's already covered under the Drivetrain Plus plan.
- Step up to ASC's Deluxe Coverage, and the brakes, steering, front suspension, and fuel system get added to the Platinum Drivetrain plan.
- ASC's Factory Type Coverage is their top-tier offering. Unlike the company's other coverage options, which specify exactly what is covered, the Factory Type plan is exclusionary. As was mentioned earlier, this means that most items are covered except for things like tires and brake pads.
ASC includes roadside assistance like towing and flat tire help. Still, coverage is limited to $50 per incident (according to the company), which could be a challenge if your car needs towing over any great distance. A rental car allowance of an unknown amount is also included with all policies.