Fidelity Extended Warranty Review

Fidelity Warranty Services, Inc. (FWS) is a provider of vehicle service contracts. Sometimes mistakenly labeled “extended warranties.” Fidelity is a brand under the JM&A Group. This company calls itself “...a results-driven company committed to increasing dealers’ bottom-line profits.” In business for over 40 years, FWS has over 13.4 million contracts in service and says that it has paid out over a half-billion dollars in claims. FWS is the customer-facing brand name that JM&A uses for its vehicle service contracts.

Pros and Cons

  • Two plans which cover hybrid and electric vehicles
  • Plans for high-mileage vehicles
  • “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • Long-term player in this business
  • Hard to know who is the real company behind the quoted plans
  • Each dealer offers its own set of plans
  • Limited older vehicle plans available (set by dealer)

What Is the Fidelity Warranty Services Plan?

An FWS plan is a vehicle service contract made to cover unexpected repairs. FWS is a full-service vehicle protection company. It offers three levels of coverage for unforeseen repair needs as well as a host of other products. The other products include prepaid maintenance plans, four levels of wheel, tire, and rim protection plans, and even theft deterrent products.

The three tiers of vehicle service contracts FWS offers include:

  • Powertrain Coverage - The lowest level of protection. This plan only offers protection against covered mechanical breakdowns of the engine, transmission, and drive axle
  • Gold Coverage - A mid-tier plan that adds to the Powertrain coverage. This plan adds in some electrical, cooling, steering, brake, and other repairs.
  • Platinum Coverage - The most comprehensive plan. It builds upon the two prior plans and is the closest thing to a factory bumper to bumper warranty offered by FWS.

What is Covered by Fidelity Warranty Services Plans?

FWS offers vehicle service contracts that are exclusionary. Only the repairs that are listed in the contract you sign will be covered. It is vital that you read this document carefully and have a full understanding of it before you sign. If you purchase a low-cost plan and your infotainment system stops working, you will have no recourse.

Common RepairAvg CostPlatinumGoldPowertrain

(*) Brake coverage does not include normal wear.

(**) Hybrid components often have very long manufacturers’ warranties.

(***) Catalytic converters are covered under extended emissions warranties provided by every manufacturer. Check your state laws for details.

Which Fidelity Warranty Services Plan Plan is Right for Me?

Additional Benefits Included in All Fidelity Warranty Services Plans

  • Alternative transportation including $40 per day for rental cars or public transportation
  • Towing up to $100 per breakdown
  • Travel interruption of $100 per day and $500 per occurrence
  • Plans are fully transferable to subsequent owners
  • Fluids needed for covered repairs are included in all plans

Powertrain Plan From Fidelity Warranty Services Plan

Powertrain offers coverage for the major components of the engine, transmission, and drive axles. This is the most basic plan. Shoppers take note that the most common types of breakdowns are not included. Here are some examples of what this plan includes coverage for:

Engine Components

  • All internally lubricated parts contained within the engine
  • Intake & exhaust manifolds
  • Balance shaft
  • Water pump
  • Fuel pump
  • Diesel injection pump & diesel oil controlled fuel injectors
  • Oil pump
  • Turbocharger/supercharger assembly including boost valve, boost pressure control, wastegate, recirculation and blow off valve; seals and gaskets

Transmission Components

  • All internally lubricated parts contained within the transmission
  • Transaxle and transfer case
  • Shift cover and forks
  • Bell housing & components within the bell housing
  • Torque converter
  • External valve bodies
  • Control units, solenoids; seals and gaskets.

Drivetrain Components

  • All internally lubricated parts contained within the differential/axle housing(s)
  • 4x4 locking hubs and electric or vacuum actuators

Hybrid and EV Related Components

  • Electric motor/generator(s) all internal components; inverter/converter/transformer units including all internal components and cover; continuously variable transmission and all internal components; power split device and all internal components; reduction/reducer box and all internal components; seals and gaskets.

Gold Plan From Fidelity Warranty Services Plan

The Gold plan adds a LOT of important systems and components that can fail in your vehicle. Added coverage includes:

Engine

  • Oil pan
  • Valve, timing, and side covers
  • Thermostat housing
  • Water pump pulley
  • Engine mounts
  • Harmonic balancer
  • Flex plate/flywheel and ring gear.

Colling

  • Radiator
  • Mounting brackets and coolant recovery tank
  • Fan clutch, fan blades and motor & fan shroud;
  • Heater core
  • Transmission oil cooler
  • Engine oil cooler.

Transmission

  • Oil pan
  • Detent cable
  • Kickdown link
  • Throttle cable
  • Vacuum modulator
  • Transmission mounts.

Drive Axle

  • Constant velocity joints and boots
  • Slip joint
  • Front wheel drive axles/half-shafts and wheel bearings
  • U-joints; couplings; flex disc; prop shafts; center support bearings.

Steering

  • Tie rods, idler and pitman arms
  • Center/drag link
  • Coupling and shafts
  • Cooler lines; steering gear housing and internal parts
  • Rack and pinion housing and internal parts
  • Power steering pump and internal parts including reservoir
  • Electric steering motor
  • Power steering pump or electric steering motor mounting brackets; seals and gaskets.

Brakes

  • Compensator/proportioning valve & metering valve
  • Calipers
  • Wheel cylinders
  • Backing plate; brake adjusters and brake hardware
  • Brake pedal, pedal lever and pedal pivot
  • Parking brake linkage/ratchet assembly and cable
  • Anti-lock braking system component parts including control processor/module, pump, dump valve, wheel speed sensors, solenoids, accumulator, yaw rate sensor, and pressure differential switch
  • Master cylinder; vacuum or hydraulic brake booster assembly; hydraulic lines, hoses and fittings; brake pedal apply pin; seals and gaskets.

AC

  • Accumulator; receiver drier; automatic temperature control programmer; clutch assembly including coil, disc and pulley; control cables; cutoff switch; serpentine belt tensioner, bearing and pulley; condenser; compressor; evaporator; orifice/expansion valve; seals and gaskets.

Suspension

  • Upper and lower control arms
  • Shafts and bushings
  • Upper and lower ball joints
  • Struts
  • Wheel bearings/hubs
  • Spindle/steering knuckle and spindle support
  • Coil and leaf springs
  • Seats and bushings
  • Leaf spring shackles
  • Track bars
  • Links and bushings
  • Electronic level control components including pump, accumulator, lines, bags
  • Stabilizer bar, links and bushings; kingpin; torsion bar, mounts and bushings
  • Tension rods/radius arm.

Electrical

  • Front and rear wiper motor
  • Transmission and linkage
  • Power window motor
  • Window regulators
  • Power seat motor
  • Steering column multi-function switch and individual switches for turn signal, headlamp, dimmer, wiper, washer and cruise control
  • Clock spring/spiral cable
  • Mirror motor switch
  • Brake light switch
  • Neutral safety switch
  • Glove box light switch
  • Courtesy light switch
  • Cooling fan relay
  • Air control solenoid
  • Air regulator valve
  • Idle air control motor
  • Electronic ignition module
  • Ignition coil
  • Engine distributor including shaft
  • Gear, bushings and modules
  • Electronic throttle control
  • Gas pedal position sensor/assembly
  • Throttle position sensor
  • Vehicle speed sensor
  • Manifold absolute pressure sensor
  • Knock sensor and barometric pressure sensor
  • Alternator
  • Alternator mounting bracket
  • Voltage regulator
  • Starter motor
  • Solenoid and drive

Additional Hybrid and EV Components

  • Motor/generator belt tensioner
  • Drive motor dampener
  • Voltage inverter reservoir
  • Three-phase high voltage cables
  • Hydraulic or electric regenerative braking system
  • Hybrid/ EV/hydrogen battery (nickel-metal hydrate or lithium-ion drive propulsion battery) including the case and mounting hardware, junction block, main battery cable, and frame wire
  • Onboard battery charging system including charge controller, plug in outlets, plug in cable, and trickle charger cable
  • Electric AC compressor and motor
  • Electric steering rack, gear, and motor
  • Electro/hydraulic power steering pump and reservoir
  • Hydrogen fuel cell stack
  • Battery cooling pump
  • Seals and gaskets

Platinum Plan From Fidelity Warranty Services Plan

The Platinum Plan is the top-level plan offered by FWS. It includes everything included in the Powertrain and Gold plans and added systems. FWS excludes a long list of items from your coverage. For example, glass, rubber components exposed to the elements, catalytic converters, standard manual transmission clutches and associated systems, safety restraint systems, and convertible tops. Your contract will have a full list of exclusions.

How Much Does a Fidelity Warranty Services Plan Warranty Cost?

Car Talk phoned FWS’s customer care line and spoke for about 30 minutes with the very helpful customer care associate. We learned some interesting things. First, JM&A, the parent of FWS, does not quote directly. They have one nationwide retailer called CWS. Their product is called Vanguard Care Plan. They also work directly with thousands of nationwide car dealerships and are the exclusive provider for some Toyota, Kia, and Volvo dealers.

Our associate passed us along to CWS. That agent was also quite helpful. However, he would only provide specific prices based on VINs and miles, not examples. We used one of our personal vehicles to obtain the pricing below for this story. Note that the FWS plan names are not the same as what we were quoted by CWS, but the agent assured us they offer the same three tiers of coverage.

Vehicle*Platinum (Sentry Guard Plus)Gold (Sentry Care)Powertrain (Power Care)Plan DurationDeductible
  • Sample car had 34,000 miles at the time of the quote provided by FWS’ agent.

How to File a Fidelity Warranty Services Plan Claim?

FWS told us that the filing process for a needed repair goes as follows:

  • Customer takes vehicle to any ASE-Certified repair facility.
  • Mechanic diagnosis issue and phones FWS.
  • FWS considers the diagnosis and approves the repair within 2 hours.
  • Customer picks up vehicle after repair is done and pays only the deductible.

Is My Car Eligible for a Fidelity Warranty Services Warranty?

Our FWS customer service agent said that, in general, the contracts offered are for cars with less than 100,000 miles and under 10 years old. There are some high mileage plans offered by some individual dealers, but not all. Our agent declined to offer a quote for a specific vehicle VIN we had at the ready with 120,000 miles. Here is a quick list of other disqualifications:

  • Lack of maintenance records
  • Any vehicle modification such as an engine tune (chip) or lift kit
  • Unusual vehicles
  • Any vehicle used for commercial purposes

Most Common Reasons Why Fidelity Warranty Services Claims Are Rejected?

There are some common reasons claims are rejected by all companies offering these service contracts. These include:

  • The needed repairs are not included in the contract
  • The vehicle was modified
  • The vehicle was not properly maintained
  • The repair is needed due to damage, not a failure

Customer Reviews of Fidelity Warranty Services

FWS is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and earns an A rating from this consumer group. That is a very positive sign, but with FWS being a subsidiary of JM&A and the quote coming from CWS, Car Talk lost track of who is really involved with this contract. It seems extremely convoluted.

Positive Reviews

Fidelity Warranty Services earns a 3.6-star rating (out of 5) on Google reviews. One reviewer wrote, “My 80-year old mom purchased your Platinum level of Extended Warranty protection for her 2014 Kia Sorento SX in 2016. When she needed it, your Customer Service team addressed every need and request. Our family is so pleased and satisfied. Big fans here in Texas!!!”

Another Google Reviewer wrote, “I’d like to thank Fidelity for a hassle-free experience in getting my vehicle repaired. This is coming from someone who would never buy a car warranty and adopted it when the used car I bought had it. This experience has changed my mind.”

At Yelp, FWS earns a 1.5-star rating (out of five). However, a lot of FWS contract holders took time to write long positive reviews. One Yelper wrote, “My warranty has ended and I used Fidelity a total of 4 times. For every repair, I went to Benz dealerships only. Always worried if the failing unit is going to be covered by Fidelity, as they are insanely costly. But every time, Fidelity paid out.”

Negative Reviews

There are a lot of unhappy Yelpers who worked with FWS. We sorted out the ones we felt were clearly cases of a customer unhappy because an uncovered part was not paid for and found two that seemed reasonable.

One Yelper wrote, “I am a business shop and we work with aftermarket warranties on a daily basis. This company has no ethics or morals when it comes to following through and/or allowing a small business to make the money they need too. I hope that everyone who sees this review understands that I give a lot of 5-star reviews.” Well, we looked at this Yelper’s profile,and sure enough, almost all five-star reviews.

Another unhappy Yelper wrote, “Bought a used vehicle and purchased the extended warranty. After one year after purchase, the car didn't pass emissions. Needed the EGR valve replaced, a crucial part of the emissions system. Both the mechanic and I called FWS to file a claim and they said ‘t's not covered.’ In the sales piece the dealership provided me with their ‘gold package’ under ‘Engine,’ the first item covered is ‘Emissions System.’ The EGR valve is the valve that controls the emissions system. They said it wasn't covered.”

Should You Get a Fidelity Warranty Services Plan Extended Warranty?

Check our decision tree to decide if a service contract (extended warranty) works for you. There are two good examples of shoppers where a product like this seems to be a good idea. The first is vehicle owners who can have their budgets upset by a large and unplanned repair bill. The second case is a shopper who owns a vehicle they love and wish to hang on to, but which has a poor track record of reliability. Our advice is to be sure you buy a plan that will cover the most common types of costly failures. Those scary failures can include infotainment systems.

Why walk away? Consumer Reports studies these plans and determined through owner interviews that most plan owners pay more for the plan than they recoup in repairs. Some states even restrict their sales, notably California.

Top Rated Warranty Companies

4.9 of 5

CARCHEX is one of the largest, most highly-rated providers of vehicle extended warranties in the market. They have been a trusted name in the business for 20 years.

4.9 of 5

autopom! is well known in the industry for customer service and responsiveness. The company works directly with 2600 certified repair facilities and has a dedicated customer advocacy program.

4.9 of 5

Liberty Bell has one of the best reputations and covers more vehicle makes than other warranty companies. This provider has a solid reputation with excellent customer service ratings and has been around for over a decade.

4.3 of 5

Toco Warranty Corporation is a relative newcomer in the industry, but they are making a splash. They maintain a solid reputation with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Toco is known for offering affordable plans with no down payment and the ability to pay in monthly installments.

FAQ

Is Fidelity Warranty Services Plan legitimate?

Indeed, FWS is one of the longest-running providers of these plans. FWS also is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and earns an A rating.

Is Fidelity Warranty Services good?

Many satisfied customers of FWS offer positive reviews. On Google, the company earns a 3.6-star rating.

Can you cancel Fidelity Warranty Services?

An FWS contract can be canceled within 30 days with no penalty for a full refund. From 30-60 days, a small administrative fee applies, and the full price otherwise is refunded. After 60 days, the FWS plan will be refunded on a prorated basis.

How do I use Fidelity Warranty Services?

Using an FWS service plan is easy. You take the vehicle into an approved ASE-certified repair shop, and you pick it up later and pay your deductible (usually $100). We have more details on this above.

What does a service warranty cover?

There are three levels of FWS service plans. The Powertrain Plan covers just the basic, large expensive engine and drivetrain components. The Gold Plan includes a much longer list of items. The Platinum Plan is similar in many ways to your manufacturer’s bumper to bumper new car warranty.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.
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