Will Car Insurance Cover Regular and Routine Maintenance?
Last Updated on November 3, 2023
You buy car insurance to protect against unexpected situations. But does car insurance cover regular or routine maintenance? Or do you pay out of pocket?
Regular maintenance helps your vehicle stay safe and efficient. Unfortunately, most regular maintenance is not covered by car insurance. You cannot file an insurance claim to replace your tires, for example, nor can you file a claim for worn windshield wipers.
Today, we’re explaining what types of things car insurance covers – including whether routine maintenance is ever covered by car insurance.
Car Insurance Will Not Cover Routine Maintenance
Car insurance covers unexpected costs. For example, you don’t expect a car accident, which is why car insurance collision coverage protects you. You don’t expect a pedestrian to jump in front of your vehicle, which is why car insurance liability coverage protects you.
Maintenance, however, is an expected part of owning a vehicle. You expect to pay routine maintenance expenses. These are normal, expected parts of owning a vehicle. Cars aren’t designed to last forever, and you need to maintain your vehicle to keep it running.
Maintenance varies between vehicles. Some owners are careful with maintenance, while others are not. Some drivers change their oil every 5,000 miles, while others change it every 3,000 miles. Some vehicles require regular, expensive maintenance, while others run efficiently for thousands of miles with just an oil change. It depends on your vehicle and your maintenance habits.
The same rule applies to other types of insurance. Home insurance will not cover a roof replacement every 25 years, for example, because this is a normal and expected part of owning a home. Insurance covers things you don’t anticipate – not things you expect.
What Isn’t Covered by Car Insurance?
A standard car insurance policy does not cover maintenance or maintenance-related issues, including all of the following:
- Oil changes
- Wheel balancing
- New tires and tire rotations
- Windshield wiper replacements
- Coolant and fluids
- Spark plugs
- Brake pads and linings
- Suspension alignments
- Other maintenance costs or maintenance-related expenses
Types of Car Insurance Coverage
There are three main types of car insurance coverage: liability coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage. Liability coverage is legally required in most states (except Virginia and New Hampshire). Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage are not required in any state but are still important in protecting your vehicle from accidents and other events.
Liability Coverage (Required): This insurance covers any damage you inflict on other people or property while driving. It covers the cost of repairing someone else’s vehicle after an accident, for example, or paying someone’s hospital bills after you injure them. If you are found at fault for an accident, then liability coverage can cover any damages you are responsible for.
Collision Coverage (Optional): Collision coverage covers the cost of repairing your own vehicle after an accident.
Comprehensive Coverage (Optional): Comprehensive coverage covers the cost of repairing your own vehicle after it’s damaged outside of an accident, including damage from theft, vandalism, storm damage, fires, and more.
There’s no such thing as ‘maintenance coverage’ in car insurance. None of the three categories above cover maintenance expenses.
Consider Your Deductible
You can file a claim for things like vehicle damage, accidents, and theft. With most insurance claims, however, you still have to pay your deductible. This is the amount you pay before car insurance covers the rest.
A typical deductible is between $500 and $1,500.
Even if you could claim vehicle maintenance on car insurance, your deductible would likely be much higher than the cost of maintenance.
An oil change costs $50 to $100, for example, which means it would not be worth filing an insurance claim (even if you could).
Consider Mechanical Breakdown Insurance (MBI)
Mechanical breakdown insurance is typically only available on new vehicles. Some insurers don’t even offer mechanical breakdown insurance.
Overall, mechanical breakdown insurance is similar to a dealership’s extended warranty. It covers the parts and systems of your vehicle against any breakdowns. If your car is still under warranty, then mechanical breakdown insurance may not be necessary. If your car is beyond its warranty, however, and parts break down, mechanical breakdown insurance could cover those parts. You could also buy an extended warranty from a third-party provider such as CarShield.
Mechanical breakdown insurance covers certain maintenance-related items, including:
Certain MBI policies also cover your steering system, air conditioning, and other systems. Check your policy documentation to verify.
A typical insurance policy does not cover brakes or brake pad replacement, for example, although a mechanical breakdown insurance policy may cover these things.
MBI Does Not Cover Regular Maintenance
MBI covers certain maintenance-related issues, although most maintenance is not covered by MBI or any other type of car insurance.
Mechanical breakdown insurance does not cover tune-ups, oil changes, wheel balancing, new tires, tire rotation, filters, spark plugs, windshield wiper replacements, fluids, coolant, brake pads and linings, and suspension alignments, among other maintenance, for example.
Good Vehicle Maintenance Lowers Car Insurance Rates
Car insurance will not cover vehicle maintenance. However, good vehicle maintenance can lead to lower car insurance rates.
There’s a direct relationship between the condition of your vehicle and your risk of filing a claim. An old, poorly-maintained vehicle is riskier to insure than a well-maintained vehicle.
Good brake maintenance, frequent oil changes, and regular windshield wiper replacements can reduce your chance of filing a claim. These things make you a safer driver to insure. Insurers may not directly charge lower rates for following these maintenance recommendations, although they lead to lower premiums in the long run.
Final Word on Routine Maintenance and Insurance
Car insurance will never cover routine vehicle maintenance. Vehicle maintenance is an expected part of vehicle ownership. Car insurance is designed to cover unexpected expenses – not expected costs.
Even though insurance doesn’t cover it, good vehicle maintenance is crucial. Good maintenance keeps your car safe. It reduces your chances of an insurance claim. It extends the life of your vehicle, and it makes you a better driver.
Consider buying an extended warranty or mechanical breakdown insurance if you want car insurance to cover certain maintenance-related expenses. However, even these policies will not cover routine vehicle maintenance.