If you’re buying a used vehicle or your car’s factory warranty is about to expire, you may be considering an extended warranty. CARS warranty contracts offer extensive component coverage, and the company claims to have “the fastest claims payment in the business.” But are the provider’s vehicle protection plans the right fit for your needs?
Our research team has reviewed the best extended car warranty companies in the industry based on factors such as coverage, pricing and customer reviews. Keep reading to see how CARS Protection Plus stacks up against the competition.
We always recommend comparing quotes from several providers before signing on the dotted line. Kick off your research by getting free, no-obligation quotes from our vetted providers.
Is a CARS Warranty Worth It?
CARS Protection Plus was founded in 1998 and currently offers contracts in 40 states. The company is insured by Dealer’s Assurance Company and claims to have the “fastest payments in the business.” The company covers vehicles with up to 200,000 miles on the odometer.
Note that drivers in the following states cannot purchase a vehicle service contract from CARS Protection Plus:
- New Mexico
CARS warranty contracts are sold exclusively through dealerships, and CARS Protection Plus has serviced over one million customers since its founding.
|Overall Star Rating||4.0 out of 10.0|
|Reputation||6.0 out of 10.0|
|Coverage||4.0 out of 10.0|
|Customer Experience||3.0 out of 10.0|
Is it worth it? No, we don’t recommend purchasing coverage from CARS.
CARS Warranty Coverage
CARS Warranty coverage is offered through 11 vehicle protection plans, which range from basic powertrain coverage to exclusionary, bumper-to-bumper extended warranty coverage.
- Powertrain: Covers engine, transmission, transfer case, drive axle and related seals and gaskets
- Powertrain Limited: Covers the engine, transmission, transfer case, drive axle, seals, gaskets and air conditioning
- Value Limited: Covers everything included in Powertrain coverage as well as suspension, steering components, brake components, engine cooling system and some electrical parts
- Value Plus: Covers everything included in Value Limited as well as fluids, air conditioning and additional electrical components
- Onyx Plus: Provides the same coverage as Value Plus contract for diesel trucks and vans, or trucks and Jeeps lifted up to 4 inches
- Ultimate Value: Covers everything included in Value Plus as well as fuel injectors, antenna motor and door actuators
- Independence: Covers engine, transmission, transfer case, suspension, drive axle, seals, gaskets, steering, braking system, engine cooling system, air conditioning, starter motor, alternator and window wiper motors
- Flex Protect Level 1: Covers engine, transmission, transfer case, drive axle, seals, gaskets and fluids
- Flex Protect Level 2: Covers everything included in Level 1 as well as suspension, steering components, brake components, engine cooling system and some electrical components
- Flex Protect Level 3: Covers everything included in Level 2 as well as air conditioning
- Flex Protect Level 4: Provides exclusionary coverage for most vehicle components.
CARS offers several contract options, and many cover the same or similar components. Each plan also has different benefit and labor rate reimbursement amounts, detailed in the chart below.
|CARS Warranty Plan||Covered Labor Reimbursement Rate||Rental Car Reimbursement||24-Hour Roadside Assistance||Diagnostic Fees|
|Powertrain||$60/hour||$25/day, $300 per claim||Not included||Not covered|
|Powertrain Limited||$60/hour||Not included||Not included||Not covered|
|Value Limited||$60/hour||$25/day, $300 per claim||Not included||Not covered|
|Value Plus||$70/hour||$25/day, $300 per claim||Included||Not covered|
|Onyx Plus||$70/hour||$25/day, $300 per claim||Included||Not covered|
|Ultimate Value||$100/hour||$25/day, $300 per claim||Included||Covered|
|Independence||$70/hour||$25/day, $300 per claim||Not included||Not covered|
|Flex Protect Level 1||$75/hour||$35/day, $250 per claim||Not included||Covered|
|Flex Protect Level 2||$75/hour or $160/hour, depending on contract||$35/day, $250 per claim||Not included||Covered|
|Flex Protect Level 3||$75/hour or $160/hour, depending on contract||$35/day, $250 per claim||Included||Covered|
|Flex Protect Level 4||$75/hour or $160/hour, depending on contract||$35/day, $250 per claim||Included||Covered|
The towing benefit is the only added perk consistent across all plans, offering up to $50 total reimbursement per breakdown.
The large number of contracts and the differing labor rate reimbursements are uncommon among extended car warranty contracts. Most companies offer similar benefits with all packages.
One detail that is also atypical for the industry is that a CARS warranty contract states that CARS can request the use of used, rebuilt or aftermarket components for repairs. Some customers have said that after their mechanic diagnosed the problem, CARS sent a faulty or inadequate replacement part.
CARS Warranty Exclusions
No CARS warranty contracts cover wear-and-tear items, including:
- Brake pads and shoes
- Wiper blades
- Headlights and bulbs
- Shock absorbers
Also excluded are non-mechanical parts such as upholstery, bumpers and exterior trim.
Cost of a CARS Extended Warranty
The cost of a vehicle service contract depends on a number of factors such as:
- Vehicle age and mileage
- Vehicle make and model
- Contract coverage level and length
- Deductible option
CARS warranty contracts are sold exclusively through dealerships, so we were unable to contact the company directly for a quote. We found customers who reported paying around $1,500 for four years of high-level coverage. This is a reasonable price for such a warranty, and on par with industry averages.
How to Get a Quote and File a Claim
You’ll need to contact a participating dealer to find out exactly how much a CARS warranty will cost you.
If you have a CARS warranty and experience a breakdown, bring your vehicle to any National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®)-certified mechanic in the U.S. or Canada. Then, request the repair facility to call your CARS warranty administrator at 888-335-6838 to open a claim.
Your repair shop then waits to receive authorization from CARS, which may require tear-down service or an inspection. Assuming your claim is approved, CARS Protection Plus will pay your mechanic directly minus your deductible.
If you sell your vehicle before your CARS warranty expires, it can be transferred for $99 fee.
CARS Warranty Reviews
CARS Protection Plus is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and holds an A+ rating. Despite this high score, the company does not have many positive customer reviews. There have been over 100 complaints filed against CARS Protection Plus in the past 3 years through the BBB website. This is about average for a car warranty company of this size.
Customers who complained were upset by the complexity of their contracts, and many stated that the CARS warranty hourly reimbursement rates did not cover the full amount charged by their mechanics. There were also several customers who reported that CARS insisted on selecting the parts used for repairs, in some cases sending their mechanic incorrect or incompatible parts.
Our Verdict on CARS: 4.0 / 10.0
Complicated contracts are common in the extended auto warranty industry, but CARS warranty contracts are more complicated than most. According to customer reports, CARS Protection Plus sticks to the specifics of its contracts, which often fail to pay for the total cost of repairs even when repairs are covered.
The company does have a strong industry reputation and an A+ rating from the BBB. However, CARS warranty coverage does not seem to be very comprehensive, and there are certainly better alternatives on the market.
Our Picks for Best Extended Car Warranties
CARS isn’t the only warranty company with an established industry reputation. Customers looking for contracts with better coverage should consider two of our top-recommended providers: Endurance and CARCHEX.
Endurance: Best Provider
Endurance has some of the best extended warranty coverage in the industry. There are six levels of Endurance coverage:
- Select Premier Coverage: Covers most powertrain components and specifically written with older vehicles in mind
- Secure Coverage: Covers parts of the engine, transmission and drivetrain
- Secure Plus Coverage: Protects the drivetrain components as well as the air conditioning, brake components and steering
- Superior Coverage: Provides named-component coverage for hundreds of listed parts, including the cooling system, suspension and fuel system
- Supreme Coverage: Exclusionary, bumper-to-bumper coverage that protects most mechanical and electrical parts
All Endurance contracts include the following benefits:
- Rental car reimbursement: $30 a day reimbursement up to $150 total
- 24/7 roadside assistance: Includes towing, battery services, mechanical first aid, tire services and fuel deliveries
- Trip interruption reimbursement: Provides reimbursement for meals and lodging at $150 a day for up to $450 per occurrence if your vehicle breaks down more than 100 miles from home
- One-year Endurance Elite Benefits: Total loss protection, 24/7 roadside assistance, ID theft services, key fob replacement and a collision discount.
Read our Endurance warranty review for more information, and click below to get a free, no-obligation quote.
CARCHEX: Best for High-Mileage Cars
We’ve labeled CARCHEX best for high-mileage cars because it offers long-lasting contracts at a low cost. But CARCHEX coverage is useful for newer vehicles as well. There are five levels of CARCHEX coverage:
- Bronze: Provides basic coverage for engine and transmission
- Silver: Includes powertrain coverage plus limited electric, air conditioning and steering components
- Gold: Covers everything in the Silver plan as well as full coverage for steering, electrical, air conditioning components and some braking system components
- Platinum: In addition to items protected by the Gold plan, covers suspension, high tech electronics and fuel delivery system
- Titanium: Exclusionary, bumper-to-bumper coverage that includes emissions components and navigation system
These plans include the following benefits:
- 24/7 roadside assistance: Includes emergency tire service, lockout service, battery service, fuel delivery and winching
- Towing: Reimbursement up to $75 per occurrence.
- Rental car reimbursement: Reimbursement up to $40 per day for a maximum of $160 per occurrence
- Trip interruption reimbursement: Provides meal and lodging reimbursement up to $50.00 per day for three days maximum if your vehicle breaks down over 100 miles away from home
Read our CARCHEX review for more information on the company, and click below to reach out for a personalized quote.
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.