An extended auto warranty, also called a vehicle protection plan or vehicle service contract, protects certain car parts and systems after your original factory warranty expires. For some drivers, an auto warranty is unnecessary, but for others, an auto extended warranty can offer peace of mind on the road.
In this review, we’ll discuss auto warranties and vehicle protection plans in depth. We’ll explain how auto warranties work, then recommend the best providers for auto warranty coverage. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions regarding extended warranties.
We’ve done our homework on the best auto warranty coverage. To learn more about the best extended car warranty companies, we suggest reading our comprehensive review and getting free, no-obligation quotes to compare prices.
What is an Extended Auto Warranty?
An extended auto warranty pays for specific car parts and systems when they malfunction or break down. You can buy auto warranty protection from your vehicle manufacturer or a reliable, third-party provider. There are pros and cons of extended car warranties with either option, so it’s best to understand your choices before signing on the dotted line.
Manufacturer Auto Warranty Pros and Cons
We’ve detailed the strengths and weaknesses of manufacturer-backed auto warranties below.
Guaranteed use of originally manufactured parts
Factory-trained technicians guaranteed for repair service
Tailored auto warranty plans for the unique issues most prevalent to the vehicle
Usually more costly than third-party alternatives
Often need to bring your vehicle into the dealership for repairs
Strict coverage start dates and eligibility requirements
Third-Party Auto Warranty Pros and Cons
Third-party auto warranties present a different set of pros and cons.
Longer coverage limits with additional auto warranty options to choose from
Flexible coverage start dates and vehicle eligibility requirements
Larger network of licensed repair facilities to choose from
Generally less expensive than a manufacturer auto warranty and typically offers more flexible payment options
Harder to find a reputable third-party provider
Generalized coverage to support the repair needs of most cars
May not cover luxury, high-tech vehicles like Tesla and Range Rover
A pro that comes with all auto warranties, regardless of the provider, is peace of mind. With auto extended warranty coverage, you’re protected against costly repairs in the event of a mechanical breakdown.
However, suppose you own a highly reliable car or plan on selling your vehicle before the factory warranty expires. In that case, you may end up paying for auto warranty coverage that you don’t need and will never use. For drivers in this situation, it may be more cost-effective to set aside a savings fund solely for car repairs.
Types of Auto Warranty Coverage
There are two main types of auto warranty coverage: bumper-to-bumper and powertrain.
|At a Glance||This provides the highest level of coverage that protects |
most of your car’s parts and systems between the front
and rear bumpers. This type of contract is exclusionary,
meaning it lists the parts not covered as instead of stating the
components that are.
|This is basic coverage that only protects your car’s most |
vital parts, i.e. what parts and systems deliver energy from the engine to the wheels.
|Coverage Details||Bumper-to-bumper coverage protects high-tech parts |
like the infotainment and navigation systems as well as the powertrain components.
|Powertrain coverage protects the engine, transmission, |
drive axles and suspension.
|Average Cost||$1,700 to $3,500 |
for 3 to 7 years of coverage
|$1,900 to $4,000|
for 3 to 7 years of coverage
Auto Warranty Exclusions
Auto warranties do not cover every repair or scenario. For example, damage to the engine is typically covered, but if it is found that the damage resulted from using the wrong kind of oil, your claim could be denied.
Here is a short list of typical auto warranty exclusions:
- Damage from improper fluid, oil, lubricants or fuel use
- Damage caused by abuse, misuse, neglect or racing
- Damage caused by extreme weather conditions, chemicals, tree sap, salt, vandalism, theft or fire
- Upholstery, paint and glass
- Wear-and-tear items like brake pads and windshield wipers
You should also note your contract-specific exclusions before signing on the dotted line. Remember, exclusionary contracts will list every part that is not covered, while inclusionary contracts will list every part that is covered.
How Much Does an Extended Auto Warranty Cost?
According to our research, extended auto warranty prices range from $1,700 to $4,000 for three to seven years of coverage. While the average price of an auto warranty is around $2,708, the cost of your contract will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Deductible: A lower deductible leads to a higher overall contract cost.
- Coverage level: High-level, exclusionary coverage plans cost more than basic powertrain protection.
- Term length: Longer-lasting contracts are more expensive.
- Provider: Manufacturer warranties often cost more than third-party alternatives.
- Vehicle make, mileage and age: Older, higher-mileage vehicles cost more to cover, as do luxury cars.
- Existing coverage from the factory warranty: If your factory warranty is still in effect, your extended auto warranty may cost less.
To find out how much an extended warranty will cost you, we recommend comparing quotes from several reputable extended car warranty companies.
Best Extended Car Warranty Providers of 2021
If you’re looking for a place to start with your extended auto warranty research, we recommend reaching out to Endurance, CARCHEX and CarShield. Each provider performed well in our industry-wide review. Here’s a breakdown of our top three extended auto warranty providers and how each ranked out of a possible 10 points.
|Our Award||Best Provider||Best for High-Mileage Cars||Most Affordable|
#1 Endurance: Best Provider
Endurance auto warranties come in six coverage levels, and extensive benefits are included for free with your first year of coverage through the Endurance Elite Membership program.
All Endurance plans come with roadside assistance, trip interruption reimbursement, rental car coverage, towing and winching, all of which last for the lifetime of your auto warranty. In addition to these perks, you also receive the following Endurance Elite benefits for your first year as an Endurance customer:
- Personal concierge service for directions and reservations
- Identity theft protection and recovery services
- Key fob repair and replacement
- Up to $5,000 in repair financing
- Tire repairs and replacements
Endurance boasts positive customer service ratings and comprehensive plan options. To learn more, read our Endurance warranty review, and get a free quote below.
#2 CARCHEX: Best for High-Mileage Cars
CARCHEX is our top pick for high-mileage vehicles based on its long-lasting extended auto warranties. CARCHEX customers can choose between five coverage plans, which range from basic powertrain protection to exclusionary, bumper-to-bumper coverage. The provider is also backed by industry leaders, including Kelley Blue Book, CARFAX and RepairPal.
Read our comprehensive CARCHEX review for more information, and click below to get a quote from this provider.
#3 CarShield: Most Affordable
CarShield is unique since it works with the extended car warranty provider American Auto Shield to provide car warranty services. CarShield offers five coverage plans plus contracts for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Based on quotes we’ve received, CarShield is best for budget-conscious drivers.
Learn more about the provider in our full CarShield review, and get a free, no-obligation quote below.
The Detroit Bureau collects data from every major car warranty provider to formulate rankings of the best warranty companies. Our in-depth rating system takes into account coverage, pricing, transparency, customer satisfaction and ratings from industry experts. Each provider is given a weighted score in five categories, as well as an overall score out of 10.0.
We recommend auto warranty companies based on these rankings, but we also encourage you to perform your own research and compare quotes to find the best coverage.
Conclusion: Do You Really Need Auto Warranty Coverage?
Determining an auto warranty’s cost-effectiveness comes down to an honest assessment of your finances and your vehicle’s reliability. If you feel comfortable footing the bill for a $500 to $1,000 repair, a car warranty may not be a worthwhile investment. However, drivers frequently mention that the peace of mind extended auto warranties provide is well worth the cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who has the best auto warranty?
Our top-rated extended auto warranty provider is Endurance. This provider offers six coverage levels and extensive benefits included at no additional cost for the first year of coverage through the Endurance Elite Membership program.
How much does an extended auto warranty cost?
According to our quote data, the average cost of a car warranty ranges from $1,700 to $4,000 for three to seven years of coverage.
Are auto extended warranties worth the money?
According to a study by software manufacturer PegaSystem, Inc., 62% of Americans who own an extended auto warranty plan report having benefited from the coverage in the past year. We recommend drivers of unreliable vehicles or drivers looking for peace of mind on the road invest in a car warranty.
Is CarShield really worth it?
CarShield offers customers “best for your budget” warranty coverage with comprehensive and competitively priced plans. One unique perk about CarShield is that it provides a brokered auto warranty experience. A CarShield representative will walk you through your warranty options from American Auto Shield, a top-rated auto warranty administrator, during your shopping process.
Does AAA offer an extended auto warranty?
Yes, but AAA extended warranty offers differ depending on the AAA Club you belong to. You do not have to be a AAA member to get a AAA auto warranty quote, but you have to become a member to purchase coverage.
Are bumper-to-bumper warranties worth it?
Bumper-to-bumper warranties are worth it for vehicles with expensive, complex and high-tech systems. Bumper-to-bumper car warranty plans provide maximum peace of mind and are typically exclusionary, meaning that the contract lists the parts not covered by the warranty.