If you’re a Toyota fan and you live in the southeast, you’ve likely heard of TOYOGUARD. It’s an add-on that gets tacked onto most vehicles as a “port-installed option” by Southeast Toyota (SET) before they hit the dealership.
Our Highlander came with TOYOGUARD ELITE, which included:
- Roadside assistance
- Emergency towing
- Rental car assistance
- Vehicle VIN etch
- Exterior paint sealant
- Interior protection
- Free oil change (two standard or one synthetic)
- Two tire rotations
- TOYOGUARD personal assistant
- TOYOGUARD auto care kit
Oh, and it also added $699 to the sticker price. That begs the question…
Is TOYOGUARD worth the cost?
Well, for starters, the roadside assistance and emergency towing provided by TOYOGUARD actually overlap with coverage that you already have thanks to the free ToyotaCare plan that comes with your car.
As a reminder, ToyotaCare lasts for 2 years/25k miles, so this is really just a short extension to 3 years/60k miles. Given that you might also have coverage via your car insurance policy, AAA, or some other provider, the value of this is quite low in my book.
Rental car assistance lasts 5 years/60k miles and is limited to 1 rental day per warranty repair, with a maximum of 5 rentals over the life of the plan and a $35 cap per rental. Here again, the value of this (even if you use it) is quite low — $175 at the very most.
Vehicle VIN etching is just having the VIN etched into the glass on all windows. This is supposed to be a theft deterrent, though the value in this context is (imho) somewhat dubious. Moreover, you can have your VIN etched after the fact for just a fraction of the cost.
Note: I’m not suggesting that you try this at home, but it’s worth pointing out that diy VIN etching kits are also an option.
The exterior paint sealant is just a polymer sealant (basically a synthetic wax job) and the interior protection is just a fabric protector, probably along the lines of ScotchGuard. And the latter doesn’t apply to leather seats, so those with an XLE and above only benefit fractionally.
The free oil change is something that everyone will ultimately need, but you can routinely get synthetic oil changes for a tiny fraction of the $699 price of TOYOGUARD. The same goes for the two free tire rotations.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that ToyotaCare covers tire rotations every 5k and synthetic oil changes every 10k for the first 25k miles. Thus, if you follow the recommended service schedule, it will likely be (at least) a year or two before you benefit from this.
The TOYOGUARD personal assistant is a call-in service for weather, phone numbers, driving directions, dinner reservations, etc. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see myself ever using this. But if you’re interested, it provides 5 years of coverage with a max of 720 minutes of call time.
And finally, the auto care kit. This kit comes in a handy little case and consists of small bottles of interior and exterior detailer, a small bottle of tire shine, and some cleaning cloths. It’s nice to have, I guess, but not particularly valuable in my book.
The final analysis…
Given the above, my view is that TOYOGUARD isn’t worth anywhere near the price you’re asked to pay. When negotiating our purchase price and comparing across dealers, we thus ignored the existence of such add-ons.
In the end, we bought that vehicle that fit our desired specs from the dealer that offered the best out-the-door price. Period. It just so happened that the “winner” came with TOYOGUARD, but I wouldn’t have paid extra to get it.