It is pitched as an additive you add to your car, thereby adding years to your car's engine.
In fact, many people report being bombarded with an offer of an extended car warranty.
Unfortunately, many of those people found out the hard way that they bought into a service contract covering only limited repairs, not a warranty from a car manufacturer.
U.S. Postal Inspector Dan Taylor says, "That is when they figured out "hey this isn't what I thought it was." At that point many victims had difficult canceling or even getting the refunds owed to them."
The practice became so rampant, some states started taking action.
"Various states put restrictions on them and even prohibited some companies from selling in those states."
To get around these restrictions, creative companies turned to the so-called additive warranty. Small bottles of coolant or lubricants that come with the promise to "magically" protect your car.
"This additive was valued at several thousand dollars and as an added bonus an auto warranty was included with the package."
Pour the product into your car engine, consumers were told, and it will activate the auto warranty.
Investigators say companies encouraged car owners to use the fluid, knowing it would nullify their chances for a refund.
"… If they added the additive to their car they were told they could no longer get a refund because they couldn't return the additive or on the flip side if they didn't add the additive to their car the warranty was not valid."
So, how can you protect yourself:
1. Beware of any claims that an additive is worth thousands of dollars.
2. If an auto warranty is included in the pitch, just hang up.
3. Always ask for a refund policy in writing.
And, if you're looking for an extended auto warranty, call your car manufacturer. Don't buy additives or a warranty over the phone.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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