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When shopping around for a car warranty, pay attention to whether the various plans include wear-and-tear coverage. Wear-and-tear coverage provides coverage for parts that break and parts that wear out prematurely. Many warranty companies have wear-and-tear exclusions, including many of the things that are most likely to wear out as your car ages such as struts, piston rings, valves and other expensive components.
If you see the term "break down" in a contract, chances are the part literally needs to break in order for it to be covered by the warranty. Ethical warranty companies that offer wear-and-tear coverage will use the term "failure" to indicate coverage of any component that fails to perform as it should—regardless of whether or not it actually broke (that's what you want).