Nat Pope has spent much of his academic career studying extended car warranties, such as those seen on television and pushed in robocalls promising to pay for costly repairs. But here’s what he still doesn’t know: Who can help if there’s a problem with the warranty?

“I wouldn’t even know where I would really expect to get some satisfaction,” said Dr. Pope, an associate professor of risk management and insurance at the University of North Texas. “The regulation is fragmented. There is nothing national. Regulators have other fish to fry.”

That’s a problem because such contracts — properly called vehicle service contracts — are “fraught with peril for consumers, especially economically vulnerable people who can’t afford to have their car break down,” said Rosemary Shahan, the president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

“Many consumers are complaining of high pressure, misrepresentations, contracts not being…

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