Dear Car Coach: Please advise on the reliability of extended warranty sold by companies online compared with what is sold by the BMW dealership. I just bought a 2009 BMW 528i, with 63,000 miles on it. I want to buy a comprehensive extended warranty. I am leaning to the aftermarket one, with better coverage for less money, but I am leery of how to resolve problems via the Internet rather than with a live person at a dealership. Any recommendation and advice?
Dear B.M.: Overall, I would not purchase an extended service contract unless it was a factory warranty. The BMW dealer’s product should be a factory extended warranty, but any aftermarket company can go out of business (which a few have in the past), have deductibles and use other mechanics to do the job.
I do know that if you are a member of United Services Auto Association, it offers a nice service program that is worth the money. Make sure to compare prices, deductibles and read all the small details if you choose to purchase an extended warranty plan. Many people have had good luck while others put a few dollars aside each month for repairs and find that works best for them. If you take care of the basic maintenance described in your owner’s manual and stay on top of the minor repairs, you should have minimal issues.
Dear Car Coach: How can I protect the front of my truck without using one of those stand-up bug deflectors?
Dear Z.N.: There is a great solution called the Lund Aeroskin. It has leading edge protection with a touch of style, and doesn’t look at all like those old wind deflectors. It is precision-engineered for a custom fit and you should have no problem installing it in just a few minutes. In the box beside the Aeroskin was 3M automotive-grade tape, so there is no drilling needed. The result is a smooth, smoke acrylic finish that looks good and actually does what it says. This is a great solution for protecting the hood and giving your truck a little bit of unique style too. Check out www.lundinternational.com to find the right fit for your vehicle.
Dear Car Coach: I have always enjoyed reading your column. Here is my concern: My wife and I are lucky enough to leave our home in Lancaster each February and March and stay in Arizona. We leave behind our vehicles, one of which is a 2010 RAV 4. Our son each week will back our cars out of the driveway and let them run for a few minutes. Last April when we returned, I backed out the RAV and heard a terrible noise coming from the rear brakes.
The RAV was still under warranty (today it has about 9,000 miles on it) so I took it to our dealer, who said the rotors were rusted out and had to be replaced. I am worried that this may happen again this year and need to know if there is anything (a spray?) I can do to prevent this.
The service manager at Toyota said that the only thing I could do was to have someone drive the RAV around the block a few times each week; he did not recommend using any type of spray lubricant or sealant on the rotors as it may cause the pads to deteriorate. Do you have any suggestions?
Dear M.S.: Where the car is being stored may make a slight difference. If you leave a car outside, you should not have to do anything other than make sure it is safe.
If you have a spot in the garage, you may consider attaching a “trickle charger” so the battery stays strong. I leave my car in the garage all winter and never start it; I just have it covered and waiting for spring.
As for the rust on the rotors, I am skeptical that there is a problem. Naturally rust will form on the raw metal that brake rotors are made of and cannot be coated. A vehicle with 9,000 miles should NOT need new rotors from just sitting in the driveway. Many cars sit on dealer lots for months in all types of weather and the brake rotors have no issues.
As for driving the car around or even starting it, I’d rather have you park the cars and add StaBil to the gas tanks and let them remain until you return.
If rust does appear on the brake rotors of any vehicle with low mileage that sits, just drive the car for a mile and the rust and possible squeal will be gone.