Friday, November 8, 2013

Can you get a warranty on a used car with over 100k miles?

Disk brake by Porsche
I've driven some jalopies in my life and had great affection for a few of them. I've had two Pontiac Grand Prixs that lasted over 200,000 miles and never had anything more than structural issues. So, while I see some people calling folks crazy for ever getting an extended warranty (of any kind) I don't know if they're as crazy as they're made out to be.

Case in point. My last Grand Prix, a 1998 that I sold in 2012, never had any major engine issues. What it did have was a problem with eating brakes. So while the car kept running well beyond its expected life span, the only thing that ate into my pocketbook were the rear brakes, which needed to be changed every two or three years. This, and a couple of other small issues with power windows got to be a little expensive.

Once the car approached 100,000 miles I thought, "I wonder if I can get an extended warranty up to 200,000 miles?" I figured I could at least break even on my expected brake repairs, and if anything else popped up I'd come out in the black.

The problem was, no matter where I looked or who I asked, I couldn't find anyone who could tell me if I could get a warranty at that point. I checked out Warranty Direct, Auto Warranty One and every other place on the web and I couldn't find a thing. I would have thought long and hard if I could have found what I wanted, but it wasn't an option. Anyone have any thoughts on this topic? I'm sure the manufacturers don't offer this, but do any reputable third party warranty places?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Will your car insurance cost more in Grand Rapids?

Flag of City of Grand Rapids
Flag of City of Grand Rapids (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No matter where you live someone is always telling horror stories about the things that either cost too much or are remarkably inexpensive about where they live. This can range from property taxes, to gas to bread (REALLY expensive in Hawaii). But one thing that really seems to get people fired up is when it comes time to talk about the cost of car insurance. Unless you’ve just switched to a new company and seen a big savings, chances are you think you’re paying too much. In Michigan, this has been a complaint for years. Grand Rapids, the state’s second biggest city, this has been an increasing complaint as the city continues to grow and prosper.

So is it true, do people in Grand Rapids actually pay more than the rest of Michigan? Or the rest of the country for that matter?

No Fault’s Fault

With Michigan drivers required to carry no-fault insurance, there is some truth to the high price gripes. This requirement provides unlimited lifetime medical care for auto related injuries. Michigan is the only state that requires this, and thus the burden falls on all auto owners, artificially upping rates for Michigan drivers. Adding up the numbers from a report by shows that Michigan residents pay the largest amount of their annual income for car insurance, with 8 percent of the annual median household income going to pay for car insurance. OUCH! By comparison, the residents of Massachusetts pay only 1.4 percent of their household income. 

So while there isn’t any hard research on whether or not Grand Rapids (please point it out if you can find it…I haven’t been able to),  there may be some clues in typical geographic related cost issues. Such as:
  • Urban vs. Rural. More traffic, more accidents, more crime all come with urban environments compared to rural (usually). So, if you live in Grand Rapids you’re in the second largest urban area in the state of Michigan. So, if you’re in the second largest urban area in the state with the highest car insurance rates in the country, it’s safe to assume this will count against you.
  • Weather. Again, Grand Rapids being only a short jaunt away from Lake Michigan has another factor working against it. Getting pounded by heavy lake effect snow each year also causes more accidents and likely jacks up insurance rates.
So, while I don’t have hard evidence for you, when you combine in the factors of no fault insurance, the urban environment and the bad weather, car insurance in Grand Rapids is basically the “perfect storm” for high insurance rates, and likely does have some of the highest in Michigan.