Pre-existing conditions can impact what you can claim on an extended warranty.

In this guide, we’ll share a quick rundown of pre-existing conditions—what they are, how to spot them in your vehicle, and what to expect if you submit a claim for one with GuardTree.

What is a pre-existing condition on a car?

A pre-existing condition is an existing failure or required repair that a vehicle has before extended warranty protection is added. Pre-existing conditions include issues that existed before starting an extended warranty contract and issues that occur before your vehicle exits the extended warranty waiting period.

What are some common pre-existing conditions on a vehicle?

Here are some examples of common pre-existing conditions on a vehicle:

  • Blue smoke from tailpipe. This issue can be caused by worn piston rings, valve guides and/or seals, and other components that have become worn. Generally, this type of wear occurs over extended periods of time and is not the result of an immediate and catastrophic failure of a component.
  • Transmission slipping. This is when the engine revolution per minute increases but the vehicle does not carry the engine power to the drive axle to propel the vehicle. This could be a result of an internal failure to the transmission clutches, or a weakened seal that results in a pressure loss that allows the internal clutches to function as designed. In many cases, the “wear” that has occurred has existed for an extended period of time.
  • Excessive play in steering and suspension components. This is often the result of wear and not caused by an immediate and sudden failure.

Just note that it isn’t possible to list or foresee every possible pre-existing condition your car might have.

Every car is different, and pre-existing conditions are influenced by a long list of factors such as your car’s age, make, model, maintenance, and even how and where you drive it.

Do extended auto warranties cover pre-existing conditions?

Most extended warranties do not cover pre-existing conditions. It is extremely rare to find extended warranty coverage for a pre-existing condition in today’s market.

The reason extended warranties don’t cover pre-existing conditions is that it simply isn’t logical or economical for warranty providers to do so.

We like to use the example that if your house is on fire and you haven't purchased home insurance yet, it’s unlikely that any insurance would sell you a policy and cover the damage from the fire.

Does a GuardTree extended auto warranty cover pre-existing conditions?

Pre-existing conditions are not covered under any GuardTree extended warranty subscription. We do not cover any failures that existed prior to your purchase and registration to GuardTree. Nor do we cover failure of, or damage to, a component that resulted from a pre-existing condition.

We do, however, cover failures that arise after you have subscribed to GuardTree, provided that they are not due to a pre-existing condition—even if you’re unlucky and that breakdown occurs one day after you have subscribed (unlike other warranties that typically include a one-month waiting period, there’s no waiting period with GuardTree).

To keep you on the road and help you avoid surprise breakdown costs, GuardTree protection covers most mechanical and electrical repairs, as well as roadside assistance, car rental, and trip interruption (e.g. lodging).

Can repairs be retroactively covered with an extended auto warranty?

Repairs cannot be retroactively covered with an extended auto warranty. For example, GuardTree extended warranty protection starts on the day that you activate your subscription. 

From the day that you activate a GuardTree subscription, you can make full use of your GuardTree protection to avoid expensive repairs—provided the repairs are not due to a pre-existing condition.

How to tell if your vehicle has any pre-existing conditions:

Identifying pre-existing conditions on your own vehicle can be tricky because you don’t always notice small issues until they turn into big problems. Use these tips to tell if your vehicle has any pre-existing conditions.

  1. Keep up with routine maintenance. Regular oil changes, checking your battery, regularly rotating and changing your tires will help you spot any issues early.
  2. Check for warnings on your dashboard. Warning lights and messages can alert you to any immediate issues that your car may be facing. If you notice any issues, make sure you deal with them immediately.
  3. Get your car inspected by a mechanic. When in doubt, ask a pro to look for any issues that might qualify as a pre-existing condition. With a thorough inspection, mechanics can identify wear and tear on a car’s components and suspension, check for fluid leaks, and catch any smaller issues before they become bigger problems.
  4. Refer to your safety standard inspection certificate. Ontario requires safety standard inspections for a handful of circumstances (e.g. transferring a used vehicle to a new owner, registering a vehicle that came from a different province, etc). If you have a safety standard inspection certificate for your car, it’s a great resource for assessing the health of your vehicle and identifying any issues that may qualify as pre-existing conditions.

What happens if you submit a claim for a pre-existing condition? 

If you submit a warranty claim for a pre-existing condition, the claim will be denied in most cases. If this happens, you would need to have the repair done by a licensed repair facility and pay out of pocket for the repairs.

How does GuardTree assess pre-existing conditions? 

When a claim is filed with GuardTree, we review the claim. We do not actively look for pre-existing conditions during the initial standard assessment. However, after the review of the information submitted, we might investigate further if we suspect a pre-existing condition gave rise to the vehicle failure presented to us.

Generally speaking, pre-existing conditions are related to components or parts that have a wear component associated with the cause of failure. And they can be identified through component disassembly and inspection by licensed technicians. 

To assess if your vehicle’s failure was linked to a pre-existing condition, we will review the inspection that was performed on your vehicle prior to your GuardTree warranty becoming effective. In some cases, we may also order an inspection, by an independent third-party inspector, to verify the cause, and extent of damage.

If we can reasonably determine based on all the information that the failure was due to a condition that existed prior to the purchase of your GuardTree contract, the claim will be denied. 

How does GuardTree know whether a claim was submitted for a pre-existing condition?

We will use the information provided by your repair facility in conjunction with our expertise to determine if a failed component is a pre-existing condition.

For example, an electrical failure may happen at any time and it may or may not be possible to confirm that the issue occurred due to a pre-existing condition. However, a large oil leak or an internal failure to a major powertrain component will show signs of a failure prior to the component getting failed or damaged.

Is a GuardTree extended warranty subscription worth the investment if your car has a pre-existing condition?

Evidently, we’re biased, but we do believe that a GuardTree extended warranty subscription is always worth the investment, even if your car has a pre-existing condition.

An extended warranty can protect you from surprise breakdown costs and expensive repair bills. So while one component might not be covered due to a pre-existing condition, the thousands of other parts in your car will be. And that can still save you a lot of money in the long run.

Besides that, here are some reasons that set GuardTree’s used car warranty apart:

  • GuardTree keeps you on the road. Our subscriptions include added benefits like roadside assistance, trip interruption, and car rental, so you won’t get stuck without a car if your vehicle needs to go in for repairs.
  • GuardTree offers flexible subscription-based plans. Pricing starts at $49.95/month. And we don’t lock you into a contract, so you can start, stop or cancel your subscription at any time.
  • We include protection for light commercial use. So if you use your car for ridesharing (Lyft, Uber, occasional food delivery), it’s still eligible for extended warranty protection with GuardTree.
  • We offset your carbon emissions. Part of your GuardTree subscription is used to offset 3.8 tonnes of carbon emissions each year (that’s how much the average Canadian emits 3.8 tonnes (3,800 kgs) of greenhouse gasses annually from driving).

Get more for your money. Get GuardTree.  

Want to protect yourself from sudden, expensive breakdowns and repairs? GuardTree is a comprehensive, monthly extended warranty subscription. Pricing starts at $49.95/month. And you’re never locked into a long-term contract.

If you’re looking for extended coverage for your vehicle, see what’s covered and use our price calculator to decide if a GuardTree extended car warranty is right for you.