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You may have heard of extended warranty companies in the past, or perhaps your local dealership recommended an extended car warranty when you purchased your vehicle. If you are not familiar with extended car warranties, then it can be easy to fall into a trap or get poor coverage.
Once your factory warranty expires, an extended auto warranty can save you a large chunk of cash in the event of a mechanical breakdown. We researched the best extended car warranty companies and reviewed their protection plans and service to give you our take on the pros and cons of each.
CARCHEX has been in the car warranty industry for more than 20 years. The company’s motto is “Customer experience above all,” and it boasts a high customer satisfaction rating on the Better Business Bureau and other review sites.
CARCHEX markets plans backed by A and A+ rated insurance carriers.
Plans range from five to 10 years. They are transferable and can be canceled at any time.
Whether you’re looking for a basic powertrain warranty or a bumper-to-bumper warranty, CARCHEX offers five coverage levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium. The Titanium plan offers exclusionary coverage, but paint, interiors and other cosmetic components are not covered. Roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and trip interruption benefits are included in most contracts.
Plans cover new vehicles and used vehicles over 150,000 miles, but do not expect your Porsche or exotic vehicle to have very many coverage options. Though, we were impressed that some cars can be covered until they’re 25 years old or have 250,000 miles.
CARCHEX uses its buying power to find competitive rates for its customers. CARCHEX touts its No-Haggle, Low-Price, Everyday Guarantee™ and offers contracts from a network of administrators. A contract for a 2007-2014 Toyota, for example, may cost as little as $56 per month.*
Some plans come with deductibles as low as $0. Payment plans range from six to 24 months.
Claims and Repairs
CARCHEX offers considerable flexibility to its customers. When it comes time for repairs, customers can choose from more than 30,000 repair facilities, which include major chains, dealerships and smaller, local shops.
Claims are paid directly to the repair facility, so you won’t have to wait to be reimbursed.
At CARCHEX, the customer is most important. CARCHEX has received a 99.9% customer satisfaction rating, as well as an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The company is endorsed by CARFAX, Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and experts like Pat Goss of MotorWeek.
Customers often cite representatives’ product knowledge and transparent communication. One customer wrote on Trustpilot:
“This is a good company to do business with. Everyone has good product knowledge and they have really good customer service. I will stick with them even though other companies are always trying to drag me away!”
Some customers, however, dislike the 30-day, 1,000-mile waiting period to use their policy, as well as some back-and-forth passing from department to department. Though, it’s important to consider that a waiting period is standard for most extended car warranty companies.
#2 Best Direct Service: Endurance
Though Endurance Warranty Services, LLC has only 13 years of experience – fewer than many competitors – it has built a strong reputation for customer service. As a direct provider of extended car warranties, Endurance takes care of customers from beginning to end.
The biggest distinction between Endurance and other third-party auto warranty companies is it is the direct administrator of its plans. Other companies market plans administered by a separate company.
Endurance offers five, transferable/cancelable plans to fit your individual needs:
- Select Premiere: For high-mileage vehicles (up to 200,000 miles)
- Secure: Basic, affordable powertrain coverage
- Secure Plus: Shortest wait period (30 days/1,000 miles rather than the company’s usual 60-day wait period)
- Superior: Highest component-stated coverage
- Supreme: Exclusionary coverage
In addition to roadside assistance, contracts include the one-year Endurance Elite Membership service, which offers perks like merchant discounts, a personal concierge and ID theft services.
You may find that Endurance does not offer the same competitive prices available from an extended car warranty company that markets plans from multiple competitors. However, higher prices and higher deductibles ($100 on average) is a good value for the level of service and coverage.
Claims and Repairs
Endurance takes the confusion out of the claims process by handling claims and covering repairs itself. There is no middleman as you’d find with most other third-party companies.
Endurance also allows customers to seek repairs from any licensed mechanic or your dealership. The company will even make recommendations for repairs for parts not covered.
Endurance is currently not rated or accredited by the BBB, but customers rate customer service positively on the BBB site. One customer specifically praises the company’s reliable coverage:
“My past experience has been great. The dealers hate when I show them this card. The insurance does cover engine, transmission and catalytic converter and anything electronic.”
Other customers praise Endurance for its responsiveness and polite customer service representatives.
Read our head-to-head comparison of Endurance vs. CARCHEX.
#3 Most Well-Known: CarShield
With 15 years of experience, CarShield has covered more than one million vehicles with more than $1 billion in administrator claims paid.
CarShield offers fewer coverage tiers than some competitors, but it makes up for this with specialty coverage for high-tech components, such as the navigation and starter, and coverage for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
Coverage ranges from powertrain to bumper-to-bumper coverage through four tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum and New Car Diamond. Though all plans can be canceled, some coverage plans are not transferable to a new owner. You must inquire about transferability for each plan.
CarShield markets itself as an affordable option for extended car warranties. Plans with low or no deductible are available.
Customers won’t have to pay for costs other than their deductible. CarShield plan administrators will pay for 100% of the covered repair costs.
Claims and Repairs
The CarShield claims process is standard and straightforward. Your mechanic or service provider will contact your claims representative who will approve repairs and pay the facility directly.
CarShield customers can choose any ASE Certified mechanic for their repairs.
While the BBB currently gives CarShield a low rating, keep in mind that the number of reviews is a small percentage of the company’s customers. In the reviews, customers report high-pressure sales tactics and confusion over what is and is not covered in their contracts.
On the other hand, Trustpilot customer reviews indicate a much more positive experience with the auto warranty company. Overall, customers are happy with their customer service representatives’ professionalism.
Google shows over 2,600 customer reviews, resulting in 4.4 out of five stars.
#4 Highest Customer Ratings: autopom!
Don’t be fooled by this company’s age. Even though autopom! is only 10 years old, it has some of the highest customer ratings on our list. If you are a California resident, then autopom! is one of the best extended car warranty companies catering to California VSC regulations.
Though terms are not as generous as those from other providers, autopom! still offers protection plans that cover vehicles up to seven years or 150,000 miles. Coverage tiers include powertrain plus, mid-level, high-level and exclusionary plans (and all plans include 24/7 roadside assistance). Plans are also transferable.
The main highlight of autopom! coverage is it caters to California residents with special MBI (mechanical breakdown insurance) plans: Mercury Platinum MBI and Royal Elite Plus MBI. California does not allow VSCs to be sold over the internet, however it does allow MBI plans to be sold over the internet.
The autopom! website states that nationwide plans start at $2,500, whereas California plans start at just below $1,500. Nationwide plans are pricey compared to some competitor plans, which average between $1,000 to $1,500 to start.
While most auto warranty companies offer a 30-day, money-back guarantee, autopom! offers both a 30-day and 60-day guarantee. You can also enroll in a flexible payment plan.
Claims and Repairs
autopom! customers can take their car to any repair shop, including their local ma-and-pa mechanic. Payment is made directly to the repair facility, and the customer only has to pay a deductible if applicable.
If fast and helpful service is your main priority, then this auto warranty company is a great fit for you. autopom! currently has an A+ BBB rating and a perfect rating from Trustpilot customer reviews.
California residents are especially pleased with their coverage, with one customer stating on the BBB website:
“I am so thankful I found autopom!. I live in California and did not know that vehicle service contract sales are restricted to car dealerships.”
Customers also mention that when they had an issue with a claim, their customer service representative responded promptly, remained patient and resolved the problem quickly.
Runner Up: Protect My Car
Our first runner up, Protect My Car, has offered VSCs for 14 years. Though the company is not in our four best extended car warranty providers , here are some helpful pros and cons to help you make a more informed decision about your extended car warranty.
Runner Up: Liberty Bell Auto Protect
Our second and final runner up, Liberty Bell Auto Protect, is a young company with a B+ BBB rating.
What to Expect When You Get an Extended Auto Warranty Quote
When you reach out to an extended car warranty company by phone or online, you’ll speak to a member of that provider’s team. Normally, they will ask you questions about your location and car (make, model, year, mileage, etc.). These factors determine what plans you’re eligible for, as well as your price estimate. They should also be able to answer any questions you have about the coverage, claims process or auto warranties in general.
It may be a red flag if you’re not impressed with the customer service on this initial phone call. This is one reason we recommend calling around and getting several quotes. You’ll also be able to compare prices and negotiate for the best extended car warranty price.
What is an Extended Car Warranty?
An extended warranty is not an insurance policy, nor is it a true warranty. In fact, it is a vehicle service contract (VSC) that, unlike your manufacturer’s warranty, is an optional plan that comes at an additional price. An extended warranty does not cover accidents or normal wear and tear. Instead, it covers repairs and replacements as a result of a defective part.
While you can get an extended warranty from the manufacturer or from your local dealership, purchasing a VSC from a third-party provider can give you more options and flexibility in coverage and price.
What Should You Look for in an Auto Warranty?
Here are a few quick questions to ask as you start shopping for the best auto warranties:
- Who backs the warranty? Is it backed by an insurance company that can ensure claims are paid?
- What are your responsibilities? What kind of regular maintenance is required under the contract?
- How are claims handled? Do you have to pay the repair facility up front? Can you choose your own repair facility?
- What is not covered? Will a claim be denied if a covered part is damaged by an uncovered part?
- Are you being pressured to buy? Are you able to compare multiple offers at once?
Consider these questions as you read through our research and buy an extended warranty.
*Figure accurate as of May 2017. Average monthly coverage cost is based on the average total price of the Vehicle Protection Plan over a four year coverage period. Actual monthly payments will vary per plan’s payment policy. Individual pricing is subject to change based on the combination of make, model, year, and mileage as well as coverage level and term length.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock, © Piyawat Nandeenopparit