A car warranty is a service contract that covers vehicles against certain mechanical malfunctions or manufacturer defects that manifest within an agreed-on timeframe or number of miles driven.
Brand new cars come with manufacturer warranties that cover repairs for at least three years or 36,000 miles. Car owners have the option to purchase an extended car warranty that will cover their vehicle after the manufacturer's warranty has expired.
Read on to learn about the best extended warranty companies of 2023 and find out whether a vehicle service contract (VSC) is right for you.
Our Top Picks for Best Extended Car Warranty Companies
- Endurance: Best for older and high-mileage cars
- Carchex: Best plan options
- CarShield: Best for motorcycles & ATVs
- Concord Auto Protect: Best customer satisfaction
Best Extended Car Warranty Reviews
Why we chose it: We selected Endurance as the best extended car warranty for older and high mileage vehicles because it offers coverage for cars that are up to 20 years old and have been driven up to 200,000 miles.
- Direct provider and claims servicer
- 350,000 certified mechanics in the U.S. and Canada
- Covers repairs directly (other than deductibles)
- Offers 24/7 claims processing
- Only sells Mechanical Breakdown Insurance in California
- Commercial drivers can't combine unlimited mileage with their policy
Endurance has two car warranty series, Elite and Advantage. The elite series offers five coverage options in ascending order of benefits and price: Select Premier, Secure, Secure Plus, Superior and Supreme. All include rental car coverage, 24/7 roadside assistance and trip interruption coverage — and customers can access their plan via the company’s app.
As with any extended car warranty plan, premiums will depend on your vehicle make and mileage, so you must call the warranty provider to get an accurate price quote.
The Elite plans, like most extended warranties, do not cover vehicle maintenance costs. However, the Endurance Advantage warranties do.
The Endurance Advantage plan offers one year of free Endurance Elite benefits plus yearly regular maintenance, including engine diagnostic exams, tire rotations, alignment checks and up to three oil and filter changes.
Endurance Advantage also includes one-time services such as cooling system maintenance, and battery and brake pads replacement, just to name a few. This series has three tiers: Prime, Plus and Preferred.
Endurance’s contracts have a consequential loss clause, which means the company will only cover components that are listed in the contract and not incidental or consequential damages, such as loss of time or transportation.
The Endurance Elite series offers the following coverage tiers:
|Select Premier||Secure||Secure Plus||Superior||Supreme|
|Coverage level||Most affordable||Great for high-mileage vehicles||Mid-level coverage with a short waiting period of 30-days/ 1,000 miles||Comprehensive stated-component coverage includes engine, transmission, suspension, drive axle, etc.||Bumper-to-bumper coverage, great for vehicle’s that need maximum protection|
|Coverage details||Excludes breaks, suspension, gaskets or steering||Only covers drive axle, engine, transfer case, transmission and turbo||Excludes cooling system, suspension, fuel and gaskets||Excludes gaskets||Full powertrain and components coverage|
The Endurance Advantage series offers the following coverage tiers:
|Coverage level||Most affordable||Includes basic powertrain and select components||Most comprehensive|
|Max. vehicle age||20 years||15 years||10 years|
|Max. mileage||Unlimited||200,000 miles||150,000 miles|
Why we chose it: We selected CARCHEX as the extended car warranty company with the best range of plans because of its unusual number of plans — 25 in total — tailored to almost all needs and budgets.
- 25 coverage levels
- Multiple add-on options with each plan
- CARCHEX is not a direct provider
In total, CARCHEX offers 5 coverage tiers — Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium — for a total of 25 coverage packages. Additionally, all extended car warranties from CARCHEX include the Care plan, which provides additional benefits including 24/7 roadside assistance, courtesy towing, rental car coverage, gas delivery and trip interruption.
CARCHEX’s Gold coverage includes protection for all major systems and is well-suited for vehicles with over 60,000 miles. The Platinum and Titanium tiers, on the other hand, offer the highest level of stated-component coverage and factory coverage for some items.
Each CARCHEX plan tier offers different coverage levels. For example, the Bronze plan comes in two coverage options: Bronze and Powertrain.
Since CARCHEX is a car warranty broker, it doesn’t itself write and administer all of its plans. Some of its programs are guaranteed by American Auto Shield and Royal Administration Services, and others are managed by CarChex.
In terms of limitations and exclusions, all AAS contracts have both consequential and betterment clauses, while Royal’s contracts have only a consequential loss clause. Read each contract carefully to determine which is right for you.
Coverage terms vary by tier and include month-by-month and 5-6-7- and 10-year coverage options.
|Coverage level||Covers all major systems, including engine and transmission||Essential coverage for all major systems, more than basic powertrain||Comprehensive coverage for all major systems on vehicles with over 60,000 miles||Highest level of stated-component coverage||Highest level of coverage available, similar to factory|
|Terms||Monthly, 5- or 6-years||Monthly, 5-, 6- or 7-years||Monthly, 5-, 7- or 10-years||Monthly, 5-, 7- or 10-years||Monthly, 7- or 10-years|
Why we chose it: CarShield is our pick as the best extended warranty plan for motorcycles and ATVs because it’s one of the few companies that offer a specialty comprehensive coverage plan designed for these vehicles.
- 24-hour roadside assistance included
- Multiple coverage options
- CarShield is not a direct provider
CarShield is one of the few companies that offer specialty coverage for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). It also offers six warranty options that range from basic powertrain to comprehensive exclusionary coverage.
CarShield also offers two specialty coverage options: an Aluminum tier and coverage for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. The Aluminum package covers most electrical and computer systems.
The motorcycle and ATV coverage extends to engines, transmissions, drive axles, fuel injectors, fuel pumps, steering, suspension, brake and electrical systems. This package also includes water pumps, radiators, alternator, starter and factory audio repair. GPS or navigation coverage are not included.
CarShield contracts include emergency roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and trip interruption coverage. Most contracts are transferable if you sell your vehicle, but make sure to call a representative to discuss your contract options.
CarShield is a vehicle service contract broker, meaning that its plans are administered by another company. For example, some plans are guaranteed by American Auto Shield.
Like most other companies on this list, CarShield's vehicle protection plans include both betterment and consequential loss clauses.
In ascending order of price and coverage level, CarShield’s packages include PowerTrain Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond.
|Coverage level||Basic Powertrain (most affordable)||Powertrain Plus||Comprehensive||Highest coverage level|
|Coverage details||Covers all lubricated engine parts, transmission and water pump.||Covers major and minor vehicle parts, including transmission, engine, water pump, alternator, starter, AC and power windows.||Best for vehicles with higher mileage. Covers engine, transmission, AC, electrical system, water pump, starter, fuel pump and more.||Covers engine and transmission failure, starter and fuel pump.|
CarShield's specialty coverage options include:
|Aluminum||Motorcycle & ATV|
|Coverage level||Covers select components||Similar to Powertrain Plus|
|Coverage details||Covers most electrical and computer-related problems including starter, engine control module, navigation/ GPS system, electrical system and more.||Contracts have different types of coverage. For example, there are contracts that cover motorcycles and other special circumstances.|
Why we chose it: We selected Concord Auto Protect as the best car warranty company for customer engagement because it is more responsive than most to customer feedback on platforms such as Facebook and the Better Business Bureau.
- Free roadside assistance included
- Direct provider
- Coverage plans aren't customizable
- Consequential loss clause, limiting claim options
Concord Auto Protect is a direct provider of extended car warranty packages with over 20 years of experience. It offers 24/7 support by phone as well as multiple ways to contact customer service via client login, email, Facebook chat and online form.
While the same can be said for other competitors in terms of customer service, not all provide Concord’s other tools for engagement. The company actively posts on social media on a weekly basis and is unusually thorough and timely in responding to customer feedback on the Better Business Bureau website.
Concord Auto Protect offers three coverage tiers, including Powertrain, Advanced and Premium. The Powertrain plan is its most basic, followed by the Advanced tier which adds AWD/4x4 and steering coverage.
Its Premium package includes everything in Powertrain and Advanced, plus general bumper-to-bumper protection and Hi-Tech electronic coverage.
Concord's vehicle service contracts contain a consequential loss clause, which means the company will only cover claims for components that are included in the coverage.
Each Concord plan has a 30-day money-back guarantee and is fully transferable.
|Coverage level||Most affordable||Mid-level coverage||Most comprehensive|
|Coverage details||Provides coverage for engine, transmission, drive axles, cooling system, electrical components and master cylinder.||Everything in Powertrain plus, all-wheel drive and steering coverage.||Everything in Advanced plus, heating, AC, suspension, fuel system, high-tech electronics and turbo/ supercharger.|
Other companies we considered
- Covers a wide selection of luxury vehicle brands
- No-deductible plan available
- 30-day waiting period
- Not a direct provider
Though Empire Auto Protect offers extended car warranties for a wide selection of brands, the company also offers coverage for higher-end manufacturers. Many vehicle service contracts (VSC) won’t cover luxury cars, or have tighter age or mileage restrictions.
Why it didn’t make our list: We didn’t like Empire Auto Protect’s lack of transparency — the company doesn’t offer a sample contract or information on exclusions, and the estimate tool only provided pricing for its least expensive plan.
- No deductibles
- Flexible payment options
- California residents have to purchase a separate contract
Toco is best for those looking for affordable vehicle service contracts that cover the basics. The company offers plans with zero down payments that you can “pay as you go.” Additionally, you can cancel your policy at any time, for a fee.
All Toco plans include 24-hour roadside assistance, trip interruption coverage, rental car benefit and hotel/motel discounts. However, Mechanical Breakdown Insurance coverage for California residents may be different.
Lastly, Toco has nationwide repair facilities and will pay for covered repairs directly with the shop, although some limits and deductibles may apply.
Why it didn’t make our list: Toco only offers month-to-month payment plans, which may not suit all drivers.
- Customizable plans
- Choose your deductible
- Plans are not transparent
- Need to provide personal information to get a quote
Forever Car has four coverage levels, in ascending order of price and coverage: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Plus.
Each plan has complimentary benefits including rental reimbursement (up to $35 per day on a 5-day maximum, 10-day maximum for parts delay), 24-hour emergency roadside assistance (up to $100 per occurrence) and travel reimbursement.
Its travel expense refund covers up to $200 per day (5-day maximum) for lodging, food and transportation expenses should your vehicle break down more than 100 miles away from home. This benefit is not available for New York residents.
Why it didn’t make our list: Unlike other competitors, ForeverCar does not sell vehicle service contracts for cars older than 2012 or that have over 150,000 miles.
- Multiple benefits
- Between 50% and 75% savings on mechanical repairs
- Does not sell contracts in AK, CA, HI, MO, OK or WA
Protect My Car offers three vehicle warranty tiers ranging from powertrain to comprehensive coverage: Driveline, Select and Supreme. The company also has an Ambassador Line designed to cover maintenance costs regardless of your vehicle's age or mileage.
Ambassador plans are maintenance programs that include free oil changes and tire rotations. You also get up to 75% off all covered mechanical repairs, rental car services for all repairs scheduled for four hours of labor or more and 24/7 roadside assistance. Roadside assistance includes lockout service, fuel delivery, flat tire service, battery jump-start and 24-hour towing.
Why it didn’t make our list: Protect My Car does not offer coverage options in six states. While some companies featured on our top list don’t offer every plan in every state, they provide alternative coverage options in the states in which they’re not active, which Protect My Car does not.
Best Extended Car Warranty Guide
If you’re looking for long-term coverage on a vehicle, an extended warranty may provide protection against some breakdowns due to electrical or mechanical malfunctions. These warranties should not be confused with car insurance, which can help you pay for repair costs that you incur due to an accident.
To help you determine if an extended car warranty is right for you, this guide covers how this optional coverage works, what it covers and what to watch out for when buying.
What is an extended car warranty?
An extended car warranty, also known as a vehicle service contract, is an optional insurance policy you can purchase to cover certain vehicle components and repair costs. The policy supplements or replaces the warranty coverage provided by the car’s manufacturer.
Extended car warranties do not cover all repairs or parts but may cover mechanical and electrical components that the factory warranty does not while omitting others that the manufacturer covers.
How does an extended car warranty work?
Extended car warranties cover some vehicle repairs and the replacement of certain components for a predetermined number of years or miles. As with factory warranties, they generally exclude "wear items'' such as tires.
These warranties may go into effect once your manufacturer’s warranty expires or overlap with that coverage. You should verify which is the case for any extended car warranty you are considering.
It's also important to read the fine print and confirm what your manufacturer's warranty covers and for how long. Otherwise, you could end up buying coverage that you already have.
Exclusionary vs inclusionary car warranties
Exclusionary car warranties list all the parts that aren’t covered under your plan. Conversely, inclusionary warranties only mention the specific parts or systems that are covered. While at first glance there may not seem to be a huge difference between both types of warranties, since inclusionary plans by definition only specify what’s included, they leave a much larger number of parts and components out — and can often be cheaper than their exclusionary counterparts.
Types of extended car warranties
Extended car warranties, those sold by third-party vendors as opposed to original equipment manufacturers, often feature the following coverage tiers or levels:
- Powertrain. Powertrain warranties cover parts that generate and transmit power, including the engine, transmission and axles. This is often the least expensive coverage tier since, while the covered components can be expensive to repair, they are limited in number and fail relatively rarely.
- Powertrain Plus. This includes basic powertrain coverage, plus some added coverage or components which vary per company.
- Bumper-to-bumper. Bumper-to-bumper warranties offer the most comprehensive coverage and are therefore the most expensive. Most such plans include the vehicle’s major mechanical systems, except for specifically excluded items. These exclusions generally include “wear and tear” items such as brake pads or tires, for example.
- Named component including emissions. A named-component contract covers a specific list of components. For example, it may cover your vehicle’s GPS and electrical system but nothing else. There are also typically separate warranty terms for emission components such as catalytic converters, which may run for more months and miles than even the powertrain warranty — especially for cars bought in California.
What does an extended car warranty cover?
As mentioned above, there are many types of extended car warranty that cover different components. It's important to note that the components covered will depend on the specific terms of your coverage plan. The following is a list of both some of the more commonly covered parts and services, and those that are commonly excluded from coverage, though companies may offer add-on coverage options for one or more.
|Commonly Included Coverages||Common Add-ons or Exclusions|
|Powertrain components (engine, transmission, drive axles, seals, gaskets, etc.)||Preventative or routine maintenance|
|Electrical system||Regularly scheduled maintenance|
|Air conditioning (compressor, condenser, evaporator, etc.)||Damages resulting due to neglect or lack of regular maintenance|
|Suspension||Damages due to environmental factors|
|Roadside assistance||Damage from an accident|
|Lights and bulbs|
|Brake pads and shoes|
How much does an extended car warranty cost?
Because no two cars are exactly the same (or at least used in the same way), the cost of an extended car warranty depends on a number of factors:
- Existing coverage. An extended car warranty can be considerably cheaper if your car is still covered by the original factory warranty when you request a quote.
- Coverage type. More comprehensive coverage plans such as bumper-to-bumper and exclusionary plans will often cost more than basic powertrain protection plans.
- Coverage length. Because cars tend to need more repairs as time goes on and their mileage goes up, a longer-lasting contract will often cost more than a short-term one.
- Vehicle type. Older cars and vehicles with high mileage are likely to need more frequent repairs than a new vehicle. An extended car warranty for a car that needs more frequent repairs will have a higher premium overall.
- Deductible. Your deductible is the amount of money you need to pay before your coverage kicks in. As a general rule, the lower your deductible is, the higher your monthly payment will be and vice versa.
- Provider. Different providers will charge different prices for similar products. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for and a cheaper product may have less favorable contract terms.
Is an extended car warranty worth it?
The value of an extended car warranty will depend on a number of factors, including the type of car you're getting coverage for, your financial situation and the level of risk you're comfortable with.
An extended car warranty may be worth it if:
- Your manufacturer’s warranty is about to expire and you plan on keeping your car
- Your car is very unreliable but you can’t afford a new one
- You want to set a predictable car repair budget
Here’s what to consider to help you decide on whether to buy a plan.
Don’t buy if the manufacturer’s warranty is still in effect.
One simple rule of thumb: If your vehicle's manufacturer warranty still applies, even in part, chances are you don't need an extended car warranty.
The recommendation applies even if the manufacturer’s bumper-to-bumper coverage period has elapsed, and only the extended powertrain warranty remains in effect. Since the most expensive and consequential car repairs covered under extended warranties tend to involve powertrain components, notably the engine and transmission.
Many common repairs cost less than annual plan premiums.
Even if the factory warranty has expired an extended car warranty may not always make sense. Many common car repairs cost less than annual premiums and even with an extended warranty, you're still required to pay a deductible for repairs before your coverage kicks in.
For context, replacing a damaged alternator (a very common repair) can cost you between $250 to $500 with parts and labor included. Depending on the specifics of your extended warranty plan, you could easily pay $700 in premiums throughout the year, not counting the deductible which can start at $50, but can be much higher if you choose a plan with lower premiums.
Expensive repairs may or may not be covered, or be worth fixing.
An extended warranty could save you a lot of money if a major component such as your transmission or engine fails. Replacing those could easily cost you between $3000 and $10,000. However, both typically run for at least 150,000 miles, especially if well-maintained (which is a necessary condition anyway for the extended warranty to be in effect).
You should also note that not every major auto repair is necessarily covered by an extended warranty, especially for older vehicles, which may have more exclusions to coverage than newer ones. One common exclusion across extended warranties is the car's catalytic converter, which can cost thousands of dollars to replace.
Beware of myths about the need for coverage.
Be ready to resist a hard sell on an extended car warranty when you buy a vehicle from a dealer. In part, that’s because high profit margins on these plans mean the salesperson may make more on this add-on than they do on the car itself.
And as previously mentioned, an extended warranty could include coverage that might be offered by the manufacturer’s warranty which comes with your new car.
What’s your comfort level with risk, and ability to cover a big repair bill?
If you’re particularly worried about a costly car failure, the peace of mind a plan provides may override its drawbacks. This is particularly true if it's easier for you to pay a monthly premium instead of saving up for emergencies.
Keep in mind, though, that extended warranties don't cover everything; you’ll still have to budget for such expenses as routine maintenance and insurance and be able to pay the deductible as needed if and when you file a claim under a plan.
How to choose an extended car warranty
Extended car warranties are sold both by dealerships or manufacturers and third-party vendors — the latter being the kind of plans we’ve reviewed here.
If you receive a plan quote from the dealership, you don't need to accept it immediately. Instead, postpone the decision while you shop around for warranties from third-party vendors as well. Take advantage of the fact that many of these vendors offer free quotes for comparison purposes.
Here are some things you can do as you shop around for the best coverage:
Compare plans. Compare plans by not only their monthly costs but also the terms and exclusions of the warranty agreement. That includes noting the range of deductible you can elect to pay. Also ask how increasing your deductible may affect the premiums you pay, since a higher deductible tends to lower those costs — and will still deliver a substantial amount in the event of more serious repairs.
Check when the plan kicks in. Check when the plan kicks in, and how that compares with any remaining coverage from the carmaker’s factory warranty – which may last for many years, particularly on certain major components. As noted above, resist buying a plan if the manufacturer’s coverage still applies, since you would be duplicating coverage you already have until the factory warranty elapses.
Do a side-by-side coverage comparison. Review prospective plans side-by-side for the car components they cover — and don’t cover — and the extent of coverage. Note, too, how the warranty company stipulates you must maintain the car, and the paperwork required to prove that you've done so, since some plans may be stricter than others in that regard.
Finally, don’t rule out negotiating over the price of a plan. You have little to lose by doing so, and potentially much to gain. Extended car warranties are lucrative financial products that leave vendors with much leeway to adjust costs and still make a profit on the sale.
Extended Car Warranties FAQs
Who has the best extended car warranty?
How to check if your car has an extended warranty
You can check if your car has a manufacturer's warranty by looking up your vehicle's identification number (VIN) and calling your dealership to verify its status.
Your car's VIN can usually be found on the wiper blade on the driver's side, under the hood or on the driver's side door. Once you have your VIN, check your odometer to see if you've exceeded your mileage limit.
According to J.D. Power, if you're not sure if your vehicle has an active manufacturer's warranty or an extended warranty, you can find your vehicle's history on a Carfax report.
How much is an extended warranty on a used car?
Extended warranties from manufacturers and third-party companies start at about $1,000 for a two-year protection plan and go up to $3,000 for a five-year plan. (The higher cost of the longer warranty is due in part to the greater likelihood of repairs in the fourth and fifth year of a plan, because the vehicle is older.)
You generally pay the premium on a monthly basis, and a payment of $40 to $65 a month is typical. Ultimately, the cost of your extended warranty will depend on a number of factors.
Where can you buy an extended car warranty?
How can you avoid car warranty scams?
How We Found the Best Extended Car Warranties
To find the best extended warranty companies, Money looked into three main areas: types of service contracts offered, smoothness of claims process and financial backing.
- Plans and service contracts. When researching extended car warranty providers, we looked for companies that offered sample contracts and details on what each plan covers. This transparency allowed us to narrow down our search and include companies that offered competitive pricing and warranty transferability. Additionally, most companies featured on our list offer added perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance, towing, tire replacement or repair, locked-out service and trip interruption coverage.
- Claims and repairs. Every contract is different, that’s why understanding what’s covered and what's excluded under your extended warranty is important. We included companies that offer comprehensive coverage options and provide customers flexibility when selecting a certified repair shop. As for claims processing, we feature companies that handle claims in-house as well as through third-party agencies.
- Customer satisfaction and financial backing. Our list of the best extended car warranties includes companies that are certified by the Vehicle Protection Association (VPA) and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). We also looked at publicly available customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). As for financial backing, we selected third-party companies that had financial support from large insurance companies. Having strong financial stability can help guarantee your claims will be processed.