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Used cars can have 'pre-existing' conditions too

Posted: 6:52 PM, Sep 28, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-28 23:52:40Z

You've probably heard of the term "pre-existing condition," where an insurance company may not cover a medical problem if you had it before you signed on with that insurance.

But one young mom just learned that pre-existing conditions can apply to car warranties as well.

Needed van for daughter's wheelchair

Bryttani Warner is a trooper. Her 3-year-old daughter, Lily, is in a body cast and requires a wheelchair due to recent surgery on her hips. Mom and Lily's big sister keep their spirits up despite driving a minivan they worry could break down at any time.

"We have to have a reliable car for our kids, especially our youngest with her in a cast and wheelchair," she said.

Warner bought the minivan specifically for Lily's wheelchair. But she suspected something wasn't right from the start.

"We noticed that there was a jerky feeling, or a shudder, as some people would say."

But she says the dealer claimed it was nothing, "so I thought maybe it's just a figure of my imagination," she said.

So she bought it, but "we get it home, and as the week goes by it starts to get worse," she said.

Since Warner's dealer said it wasn't a problem, she had the transmission checked at another dealer.

"I had a technician there drive it," she said. "And he told me immediately that I need to get my transmission fixed because it had a gear 2-3 knock."

Warranty company denies claim

Warner thought she was fine since she bought extra coverage.

But when she called her extended warranty company, "I got a phone call a few days later saying they couldn't do anything because it was a pre-existing condition."

Most of us are familiar with the term pre-existing condition when it comes to medical insurance. What you may not realize is that pre-existing conditions can also apply to buying a used car.

So, we called the dealer, explained Warner's tough situation and he agreed to try to fix it or try to put her in a different car.

Warner said she's learned something about warranty coverage.

"I've heard the term 'pre-existing' before, but I didn't know what it was for, what it meant. Apparently, now I do," she said.

Insurers say you cannot buy coverage for a car problem that existed before you purchased the coverage . It would be like buying auto insurance after a crash, or buying homeowner's coverage after your house has a fire.

Have inspection before you buy

You can avoid all this with a thorough inspection.

This is yet another reminder to have any used car checked out by a mechanic before you buy it, and not a mechanic supplied by the car lot selling it to you.

That way you don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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