Owning a car is great until it’s time to fix it. This is why the best and most reputable car warranty companies must have strong industry reputations, plenty of coverage options, affordable costs, transparency in their processes, and positive customer experiences.
Newer vehicles come with warranties that cover defects and failures, but once that is done, the owner is on their own. Parts and labor are expensive, and costs can add up quickly. Even the most reliable car will eventually break down, and that’s where extended warranties can help.
According to AAA, the average car repair bill can easily run from $500 to $600. Some repairs cost even more. Further, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 per year. With this, it is easy to see how pricey repairs can add up.
While you can set aside cash in a savings account to pay for upcoming car repairs, another strategy involves buying an extended auto warranty. This type of coverage can pay for repairs and component replacements when your car breaks down, with affordable and predictable premiums.
Unfortunately, not all auto warranty companies are reputable. With that in mind, you’ll want to do some research before you invest in an extended auto warranty for your car.
What is a car warranty?
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.
Warranty companies all offer different coverage options. This is why it’s best to compare the most reputable providers to find the best car warranty for your vehicle and budget.
Types of extended car warranties
Extended car warranties 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 that 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 components, 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. These may run for more months and miles than even the powertrain warranty — especially for cars bought in California.
Best car warranty providers
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 Plus
- Superior and
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. This includes 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. This 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.
Though the company behind it has been in operation for quite some time, Olive is a relatively new entrant to the world of extended car warranties. Customers obtain quotes and buy warranty coverage online, so there are no phone waits or calls with real people involved. Olive does not require a 30-plus-day waiting period for new customers as many other companies do.
On the flip side, Olive makes a clear point about not covering preexisting conditions in cars and covering parts that fail due to abuse or neglect.
Olive offers three coverage plans: Powertrain, Powertrain Plus and Complete Care. The Powertrain plan covers internally lubricated engine parts, the fuel system, oil delivery system, timing system, valves and water pump. Powertrain Plus builds on that coverage with coverage for additional components such as the serpentine belt tensioner.
The Complete Care plan adds the thermostat, turbocharger/supercharger assembly (if installed) and advanced valve timing systems.
Protect My Car
Founded in 2007, Protect My Car was acquired by a company called Crestview Partners in 2018. It offers many of the best perks and coverage options available, in addition to a PMC Rewards program that includes rewards and discounts with brands you love.
Currently, Protect My Car offers three main levels of coverage that consumers can choose from. You can pay for Driveline coverage, which is good for vehicles that are up to 20 years old and have more than 80,000 miles. This coverage lets you get a full five years and/or 125,000 miles of additional coverage for covered repairs.
A Select plan is also available for vehicles with more than 50,000 miles. Further, the Supreme plan is for cars with minimal mileage and is similar to a new car’s warranty. Consumers who want additional coverage because they plan to keep a newer car for the long haul might consider this type of plan.
Deductibles for Protect My Car auto warranty plans range from $100 to $200, and you get 100% coverage after that. You can also choose from flexible payment plans that last for up to 48 months, which can help make your warranty coverage more affordable over time.
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.
ForeverCar built its popularity through partnerships with major banks and insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual and SafeAuto. The company offers extremely reasonable prices, three tiers of coverage, and benefits for new and existing customers.
ForeverCar also offers customers the ability to choose a deductible and a waiting period. This can go as low as $0 and a few hundred miles.
Beyond a flexible deductible and waiting period, ForeverCar customers get the benefit of 24/7 roadside assistance, trip interruption reimbursement, and rental car coverage. On the downside, the company’s list of approved shops may not include your favorite local mechanic.
That said, the company offers roadside assistance and other benefits during the waiting period, so the customer isn’t totally out of luck in the event of a breakdown or problem.
CarShield is known for offering 24/7 roadside assistance coverage as well as protective benefits like courtesy towing and rental car coverage in many of its plans. Founded in 2005, the company says it has provided coverage for more than 1 million vehicles so far, and that it aims to help make car repairs more affordable over the long haul.
Note that CarShield works with ASE-certified repair facilities, which means they meet standards set by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
CarShield currently offers various plans consumers can choose from depending on their needs. The Diamond plan includes the most comprehensive coverage for engine and transmission failure, starter problems, fuel pump breakdowns, and more. You can also purchase a Platinum plan for vehicles with higher mileage, or a Gold plan that includes PowerTrain coverage and other protective benefits.
There is also a Silver PowerTrain coverage with fewer covered components and an Aluminum plan that includes specialty coverage for most electrical and computer-related problems.
Interestingly, CarShield also offers extended warranty coverage plans for ATVs and motorcycles.
Major benefits of choosing CarShield include the ability to choose your own in-network mechanic, roadside assistance, flexible repayment terms, courtesy towing, and rental car coverage with some plans.
Concord Auto Protect
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/4×4 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. This 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.
Omega Auto Care
Omega Auto Care was founded in 2012 and currently offers five levels of service. A basic PowerTrain plan is available, but you can upgrade to a PowerTrain Plus or PowerTrain Enhanced plan that covers additional vehicle components that could easily break down. Used Stated coverage is also available for cars 10 years or older.
However, you can also pay for New Exclusionary coverage that provides exclusive care for cars 7 years old or less and with up to 100,000 miles at the time of the purchase.
Omega also trip interruption coverage that is good for up to $75 per day for up to three days and rental car reimbursement. It also covers road hazard coverage for your tires, roadside assistance, jump starts, flat tire assistance, lockout services, and more.
Omega Auto Care lets you get your car fixed at any repair facility of your choice. Also, it pays repair facilities directly so you don’t have to pay upfront and wait to be reimbursed. However, it does not make it possible to get a free quote online, and you’ll have to speak at great length with an agent to find out how much their plans cost based on your vehicle, its mileage, where you live, and other factors.
Cost of extended car warranties
According to Endurance Auto Warranty, the average auto warranty costs consumers $4,000 in total. However, the amount you’ll pay can vary depending on where you live, the car you drive, and the level of coverage you purchase.
What do car warranties cover?
Extended auto warranties cover the same auto components that a manufacturer’s warranty covers. A bumper-to-bumper warranty should include all major vehicle systems, your car’s air conditioning and heating, and the electrical components of your car. It can also include any car safety features you have, high-tech systems like GPS, and hybrid vehicle parts such as a battery.
However, not all auto warranties are bumper-to-bumper, and some of the most affordable coverage options only include your car’s PowerTrain and other features less likely to break down. Before you buy an extended auto warranty, you should compare all the options available so you know exactly which of your car’s systems and components it includes.
Meanwhile, you should also consider the fact that car warranties are not meant to cover everything that could possibly go wrong. For example, auto warranties do not cover basic wear and tear, regular maintenance, and exterior or interior damage. They also do not cover damage caused by an accident and plenty of other issues.
Are extended warranties worth the money?
Many people advise against buying warranties because they see them as a waste of money. This depends heavily on the car and related repair costs. Of course, peace of mind and the knowledge that your bank account won’t be drained in the event of a repair can make any warranty worth it.
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