Angie's List: When to buy or skip an extended auto warranty

LEWISTON, ID - An extended auto warranty is a prepaid service contract or vehicle service plan that pays for specified repairs over a defined number of years or miles, after the factory warranty expires.

Vehicle manufacturers, auto dealers, or independent third-party providers offer the plans.

"An extended auto warranty typically picks up coverage after a certain number of miles or a certain number of years oftentimes after the manufacturer's warranty has expired," said Angie's List owner Angie Hicks. "If you're going to be driving your car for a long time it might be something you want to consider."

Be wary of phone and mail solicitations from third-party companies to renew your original factory warranty. Avoid high pressure tactics used by some telemarketers; ask for details in writing.

"When looking at auto warranties, one thing that's important to remember is you need to do proper maintenance," said Angie. "In some scenarios the warranty might be voided if proper maintenance isn't done."

Research the company. Check with your state's attorney general office for any complaints. Don't be afraid to negotiate and make sure you understand what's covered in the contract.

Ask about the cancellation policy: Most contracts can be canceled in 30 or 60 days for a full refund.