Purchasing a car is very exciting but it can also mean expensive repairs down the road unless you have the best extended car warranty. What happens if your vehicle breaks down - are you protected, personally and financially? That's why most cars come with a warranty to keep you and your wallet protected in worst case scenarios.
So what about when that warranty ends, or if you're purchasing your vehicle used? A typical manufacturer warranty lasts for about three years or 36,000 miles - after that, you will need to seek a company that offers an extended warranty for used cars. Below I've given you a head start on the search by compiling a list of the best auto warranty reviews.
Best Extended Car Warranty: What to Consider
There are a few factors to take into account before choosing the best auto warranty company for you.
- Pay attention to how much time and how many miles each extended car warranty provider offers. Make sure you are getting the most coverage for your money.
- Look for fair and flexible payment plans.
- Does the extended car warranty service also offer roadside assistance? This can be helpful if a part of the car that they cover fails on the road.
- How is the customer service? Is it available 24/7?
- Is there a refund policy in case you change your mind after purchasing the coverage?
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you navigate the sometimes confusing terrain of extended vehicle warranties. Next, I will go into a little more detail about what the terminology actually means.
Do You Need the Best Extended Car Warranty?
Cars last longer today than ever. According to research firm R.L. Polk, as reported by Forbes, the average age of cars on the road is now nearly 11 years, compared to just 6.75 years in 1930. This increased vehicle longevity is a double-edged sword. It means that cars are better made than they ever have been in the past, however, with age, there are bound to be parts that need repairing from time to time. You can either go it on your own, paying for fixes as problems occur, or you can find the best aftermarket auto warranty you can afford and enjoy the added protection it offers.
When Should You Buy a Used Car Warranty?
It's true that there are some situations in which you wouldn't need the extra repair coverage that a vehicle service plan provides. For example, if you are leasing your vehicle, or you purchase it secondhand but it is still under the original warranty, you probably don't want to spend more money for redundant protection. There are, however, many circumstances which make an extended warranty for used cars a very wise decision.
1. You've purchased a used car with an expired manufacturer's warranty
Maybe your vehicle is in great shape now but the warranty it came with has expired and you don't want to risk being left in the lurch should a component fail.
2. You wish to increase the future resale value of your vehicle
Since many of the best used car warranties are transferable to the next owner, you may benefit not only from savings on repairs but also from the higher price your car will command if you decide to sell while the contract is still active.
3. You bought your car new, and plan to keep it longer than a few years
It's no secret that simply driving your car off the lot renders it "used". If you're one of many people who drive their vehicle until it won't go any longer (as the New York Times so eloquently put it - "200,000 is the new 100,000"), an extended auto warranty simply makes sense.
4. Your vehicle is a make and model which has a reputation for specific problems
As former Yugo owners well know, certain vehicle models are known for their weaknesses. While Yugo is, of course, an extreme example, you'll still want to be aware of potential issues with your car. A policy from one of the top rated auto warranty companies on my list will help alleviate big out-of-pocket expenses should something go wrong.
You may also want to take into consideration whether you have enough savings to cover an expensive repair. If you don't have a dedicated fund stashed away to deal with breakdowns, a used car warranty can be a lifesaver. Using a credit card can cost you a bundle in interest as you pay it back, whereas some top car warranty companies allow you to make monthly payments with no interest fees.
The Best Car Warranty Companies
Carchex Car Warranty Review
- Covers vehicles for up to 10 years or 150,000 miles
- Wide range of flexible payment plans
- Variety of coverage plans
- Roadside assistance included
- Attentive customer service
- Carchex does not administrate your warranty
If you'd like multiple options for protecting your car, along with exceptional customer service, then Carchex is a great option for extended car warranty service. They are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and they are tagged for their great customer service; their representatives are available via phone, email, and even through a live chat. Carchex has five distinct plans starting with essential and basic repairs to repairing nearly every system and/or part of your vehicle. Plus, your car is covered for up to 10 years or 150,000 miles.
With Carchex, you get a bonus feature of roadside assistance, in case your car breaks down or you run out of gas miles away from home. Carchex doesn't handle your plan directly, which can be a bit of a pain for some people who just want one company to do business with. However, with the Carchex Direct system, you can shop for and compare extended car warranty service plans that they support.
Carchex is definitely one of the best extended car warranty service companies available. Although they do not administer the plan you choose, I still recommend them due to their outstanding options and customer service reputation.
Endurance Car Warranty Review
- Administrator of your warranty, deal with them only
- Cover vehicles for up to 15 years or 150,000 miles
- Can recommend an ASE-certified repair shop
- Variety of plans
- 24/7 roadside service
- No chat support for faster customer service
If you're looking for an extended car warranty, then Endurance is definitely a company you want to include in your comparison. Endurance comes with many options for your plan so you have a choice of how you're protected. Your Endurance warranty protects your car up to 15 years or 150,000 miles, one of the longest lasting in the industry today. Anything could happen in that span of time, so it's great to know you're covered if something does.
Endurance can recommend an ASE-certified repair shop if you need repairs and don't know where to go. Speaking of which, you have a few deductibles to choose from. As an added extra, you get 24/7 roadside assistance with your plan, so at any time, whether you breakdown or just lock yourself out, help is on the way. If you find yourself not wanting or needing an extended warranty, you have up to 30 days to cancel and get a full refund from Endurance. To top it off, if you sell your car, the extended warranty service plan will transfer to the new owner, making your car much more desirable to the potential buyers.
Endurance is one of the top, if not the best, extended warranty service companies out on the market. With all of their plans and extra features, they easily earn a spot on my top five list.
Warranty Direct Car Warranty Review
- Licensed in all 50 states and Canada
- Handles all claims
- Plans come with roadside assistance
- Great customer service
- Variety of plans
- Does not cover past 100,000 miles
- You pay rental fees, then you are reimbursed
- No live chat support
If you're looking for coverage on your car no matter where you are, then you may want to consider Warranty Direct. Licensed in all 50 states as well as Canada, not only can this company provider you coverage in all of North America, but if you ever have an accident or car trouble, you can get your car repaired anywhere and Warranty Direct will cover the costs. They also have a variety of extended car warranty plans to choose from, covering everything from the simple, basic components to practically anything that needs fixing in your car.
Although there is no live chat for immediate customer support, Warranty Direct has customer service representatives ready to help you when you need it by phone and email. Plus, they're available on Saturdays, a practice that is uncommon today. Warranty Direct handles its own extended car warranty claims - in other words you deal with one company, and only one. A small negative may be that you have a limit of 100,000 miles, and if your car is going under repairs, you have to pay rental car fees out of pocket until you get a reimbursement check.
I found Warranty Direct to be a great choice for extended car warranties. Not only do they administer their claims, but most of their cons are minor.
- Coverage for vehicles up to 20 years old with up to 225,000 miles
- A+ BBB rating
- Excellent customer service reputation
- Assigned consultant for life of your contract
- 24-hour roadside assistance
- Phone support only available during office hours
- Coverage contracted out
- Claim may be denied if deemed a pre-existing condition
Autopom (stylized as autoPOM!) stands for automotive peace of mind. While the company does not administer the benefits of your policy itself, they only contract with carriers with an A rating from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's, leaders in providing industry ratings.
One of the best things about Autopom is that when you need to use your VPP, you can take your vehicle to any licensed facility and the company pays over the phone by credit card. This saves you from having to pay upfront and file for reimbursement. Additionally, they provide a range of used car warranty coverage options, including value-added benefits like trip interruption and tire protection. Other advantages include interest-free payment plans, and a pro-rated refund if you cancel before your contract expires. Should you decide to sell your car, your VPP transfers to the new owner.
Keep in mind that if you buy a used car warranty through Autopom you will be required to have oil changes and other routine maintenance performed by a licensed facility. There is also a 30-day, 1000-mile wait time to use your policy following purchase. Overall I found that this company provides some of the best used car warranties with valuable features and maintains an outstanding reputation, making it one of the top car warranty companies on my list.
Easycare Car Warranty Review
- Plans come with roadside assistance
- Repairs are paid directly to the repair shop
- Warranty is transferrable
- Variety of plans
- Repairs at any licensed repair shop
- Only covers up to 120,000 miles
- You pay rental fees, then you are reimbursed
If you're looking for quality automobile coverage and haven't driven all across the country, then EasyCare is another good option. They only cover up to 120,000 miles, but there's a bit of a loophole here since you don't need a car inspection before getting coverage. In terms of the coverage, EasyCare provides a variety of plans to cover nearly everything in your car. When you get repairs, all payment is done directly through the company; nothing comes out of your wallet. Plus, the extended car warranty is transferrable, so your car is more desirable when going up for sale.
EasyCare customer service is top notch and easy to contact during the week. Their plans come with roadside assistance in case you break down or blow a tire. If you decide you want to go with another provider, you have a 30-day money back guarantee to back you up. Aside from the low mileage, the only other con for EasyCare extended car warranty service is that you pay fees for a rental car, but you're reimbursed afterwards.
EasyCare is a great choice for those who haven't used their car for more than 120,000 miles. This usually applies to the elderly or people who just drive around town and don't make many road trips. Plus, the extended car warranty plan is transferrable, so you can get a little more money if you sell your car down the road.
Understanding the Best Used Car Warranties
There are a lot of terms bandied about in the world of extended car warranties. Some companies call them vehicle service plans, while others call them vehicle protection plans and still others call them an extended used car warranty. Regardless of the name, what matters is what's in writing in your contract. One thing is certain - you will almost always get a better deal buying your coverage from an independent provider rather than from a dealership.
Be sure to read the fine print and look for specific elements that will give you the most protection. Bumper to bumper is a catch-all term that is used rather ambiguously to imply extensive coverage. Do not take this term at face value.
The marketing materials used by even the best car warranty companies should not be regarded as a set-in-stone representation of the coverage. Be sure to read the fine print and look for specific elements that will give you the most protection. "Bumper to bumper" is a catch-all term that is used rather ambiguously to imply extensive coverage. Do not take this term at face value. Instead, seek out more specific terminology that explains exactly what you're getting. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
- Get "wear and tear", not just "mechanical breakdown" - most breakdowns are due to worn parts, therefore you want to make sure you've got coverage for wear and tear so that the chances of your claim being denied are minimized.
- Choose exclusionary rather than named component coverage - exclusionary offers the highest level of protection, and covers so many parts that rather than listing the ones that are covered, it lists the parts which are excluded.
- Watch the deductible - spring for a zero deductible policy, or at minimum a one deductible per visit rather than one per repair. If your shop does work on several parts in the same visit, you don't want to be stuck paying $100 a pop for each one because you didn't read the deductible clause on your policy.
- Buy sooner if possible - the longer you wait and the more miles you put on your vehicle, the more expensive your extended used car warranty will be.
The main point I'd like to reiterate here is to know what you're getting. Whether that's simply major mechanical breakdown, or total front-to-back wear and tear, decide what you need and be sure the policy includes it before signing on the dotted line.
The ideal scenario is to choose the most comprehensive coverage you can afford at the best rate you can find in your comparison of used car warranty reviews.
Understanding What the Best Auto Warranty Is Not
It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Buy an affordable protection plan and all of your car repair worries will be over, even if your vehicle is high mileage. That is the case, in a way, but it's also important to understand what an extended used auto warranty does not pay for.
Oil changes, spark plug replacement, brake pads, and other routine preventative maintenance parts and procedures are not covered by extended warranties.
Pre-existing Damage: Your VSP will not cover parts that were already worn out - and you can be sure that their administrators know how to determine this from the mechanic's report. In addition, many plans require that you wait a certain number of days and/or miles before using your coverage. So, it's never a good idea to buy extended coverage thinking that you'll be able to get your car's existing problems fixed for free.
Routine Repairs and Maintenance: Oil changes, spark plug replacement, brake pads, and other routine preventative maintenance parts and procedures are not covered by extended warranties. According to the Federal Trade Commission, claims may also be denied if the broken part was actually caused by another worn out part which was not replaced in time to prevent further damage.
Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing precisely what your contract covers.
Advice on More Than Just the Best Car Warranty
When it comes to driving, insuring, and caring for your vehicle, there are many more issues than just which extended repair warranty to buy. When you check out our other helpful guides, you'll find information on buying new and used cars, how to save money when buying car insurance, and what to keep in mind when you're utilizing roadside service.
Your vehicle is a major investment, so you want to make sure you're getting the most for your money when it comes to protecting it - and yourself - in the event of a problem.
Best Extended Car Warranty Recap
When it comes to seeking the protection of an extended car warranty there are many choices to be made, not just which company you should choose but also the coverage you want. Pick the option that's best for you and keeps your car running for years past its time.