Consumer Reports: Should I buy an extended car warranty?

Car buyers crave reliability. It's a top concern of almost every new - and used - car shopper, according to a Consumer Reports survey. But even a trustworthy brand isn't always enough. Some people want extra protection from an extended warranty. Are they being sensible shoppers or sitting ducks for aggressive salespeople?

An extended warranty may give you peace of mind, but Consumer Reports has found that buyers aren't always going to see a return on that investment. But extended warranties can make a lot of money for those who sell them.

The Better Business Bureau recently issued a warning to consumers after receiving hundreds of complaints about companies selling extended auto service contracts, and suggests using extreme caution when considering one.

A better plan is to take whatever money you would spend on an extended warranty and put it in an emergency fund. You'll have that money available if you need a repair, or you can put it toward your next car.

But if you find comfort in an extended warranty, Consumer Reports urges you to read the fine print. Consider things like the length of the plan, the coverage limitations, and of course the price. Remember, the price can be negotiated, just like the price of the car.

Consumer Reports also suggests focusing on buying a car with a better-than-average predicted reliability rating, and then properly maintaining it.