If you’ve ever bought tires, you’ve probably been urged to buy a road hazard warranty by the salesperson.
Typically, these warranties cost somewhere between 10-12% of the tires’ total cost and cover: “damage to the tire that occurs as a result of normal driving”.
Given the vagueness of the terms behind this warranty, it’s worth discussing whether or not a road hazard warranty is even worth buying, and if so, when it makes the most sense to invest in this upgrade.
What is a Road Hazard Warranty?
Road hazard warranties specifically cover damage to the tire caused through non-negligent driving. This can include driving over nails, broken glass, or other unexpected debris in the road.
It’s important to note that this type of warranty won’t cover damage caused to the car because of user error. So, if tires are damaged due to driving errors such as mounting the curb, or maintenance issues such as underinflation, then your warranty will be void.
Crunching the Numbers Around Road Hazard Warranties
Road hazard warranties allow you to get tire puncture repairs and tire replacements free of charge.
Therefore, to determine whether such a warranty is worth paying for, we should look at how much it ordinarily costs to repair a puncture and replace a tire, and the likelihood of a driver needing such a repair or replacement.
Repairing a Punctured Tire
Road hazard warranties are often promoted as ideal for punctured tires. However, even though puncture repairs are free with a warranty, it’s rare to save money due to its initial cost.
The cost of repairing a punctured tire ranges from $10 to $20 per tire. When you do the math, even with four simultaneous tire punctures, you’re only spending anywhere from $40 to $80.
Tire punctures are rare. Experts agree that most people will experience no more than five tire punctures during their driving lifetimes — and not usually simultaneous events. So, paying $40 to $80 for a warranty to cover two years’ worth of potential puncture repairs does not make sense.
In contrast, most car insurance policies will also offer an option for roadside assistance, which can handle tire repairs. In this scenario, a good car insurance policy is a better investment than a road hazard warranty.
What About Tire Replacement?
So, it’s clear that upgrading to a road hazard warranty isn’t the best choice for tire repairs. What about if you need to replace a tire completely?
While the cost can vary depending on your location and the type of tires you select, the average cost of a single tire can range from $70 to $150 for the average car. Premium cars, SUVs, and trucks can require tires that cost anywhere from $200 and higher.
In this instance, paying $20 per tire for your warranty seems like excellent value. However, when we consider the conditions that tires need to be replaced, it seems that they will always coincide with the conditions where the road hazard warranty will be voided.
Tires generally require replacement after they suffer major trauma. Instances where tires require replacement but there is no further damage to the rest of the vehicle are incredibly rare.
Collision insurance covers tire replacements if the tire damage occurs as part of wider damage to the car. Therefore road hazard warranty is redundant for these types of accidents.
Cases where you suffer a tire blowout without trauma severe enough to damage a vehicle almost always occur when tires are underinflated or worn. Therefore, the road hazard warranty is redundant for these types of accidents.
Is There a Scenario Where This Warranty Makes Sense?
While the average car owner should skip this warranty upgrade, if you are purchasing low-profile tires for your car, then a road hazard warranty can make sense.
Low profile tires have a shallower sidewall as compared to standard tires. These types of tires are usually outfitted on sports and high-performance cars with larger wheels. And while they can look impressive, this type of tire is notorious for being easily damaged.
Due to their increased fragility, instances where you suffer tire damage that requires replacement but do not suffer any further vehicle damage are possible. In this scenario, investing in a tire hazard warranty is a wise choice.
Putting it All Together
Auto stores love to recommend that car owners upgrade to a road hazard warranty when they buy new tires. But few scenarios substantiate the cost, especially when user error and inconsistent auto maintenance can void the warranty.
In most cases, a good car insurance policy is a better preventative measure with fewer exceptions to tire coverage. Unless your car has low-profile tires, you’re better off holding onto your hard-earned money and skipping this type of tire warranty.
This article was written by Mike Skoropad, CEO of United Tires