8 Best Extended Car Warranty Companies in 2021

Third party extended warranty companies run the gamut from fair, honest providers, to boiler-room flim-flammers whose only purpose is to separate you from your money. There are good reasons to purchase an extended warranty, but separating the good companies from the bad is a challenge.

Two popular choices are Endurance or CARCHEX.

Best Car Warranty Companies

4.9 of 5

CARCHEX is one of the largest, most highly-rated providers of vehicle extended warranties in the market. They have been a trusted name in the business for 20 years.

4.9 of 5

autopom! is well known in the industry for customer service and responsiveness. The company works directly with 2600 certified repair facilities and has a dedicated customer advocacy program.

4.9 of 5

Liberty Bell has one of the best reputations and covers more vehicle makes than other warranty companies. This provider has a solid reputation with excellent customer service ratings and has been around for over a decade.

4.3 of 5

Toco Warranty Corporation is a relative newcomer in the industry, but they are making a splash. They maintain a solid reputation with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Toco is known for offering affordable plans with no down payment and the ability to pay in monthly installments.

4.3 of 5

Mercury Insurance Company has been in business since 1961. They offer a variety of products to insure everything from your car, to your business. Their extended warranty offerings are known as ‘mechanical protection’ plans.

4.1 of 5

Concord Auto Protect has great reviews and is one of the only companies to have ASE certified technicians available when filing claims. Roadside assistance, towing and rental car options are available with every plan they offer.

3.8 of 5

Endurance Extended Car Warranty company is one of the most popular and trusted providers in the business. Endurance coverage is accepted at any dealership and at any ASE-certified mechanic, and features a 30-day money back guarantee.

3.7 of 5

Protect My Car offers extended warranties for a variety of vehicles and conditions. This provider maintains solid positive reviews due to their customer service and flexibility. Their warranty offerings are also transferable and refundable.

2.7 of 5

CarShield is a company that offers an aftermarket warranty on your car, truck, crossover, or motorcycle. The reviews for this company vary widely, with some questionable practices coming to light, so we suggest researching them fully, and strongly consider the alternatives available.

N/A

Ally Extended Car Warranty is one of the most reputable warranty companies in the business. Ally is a recognized, legitimate company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange, and it’s part of one of the country’s largest financial institutions.

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EasyCare has been in the industry for over 30 years and maintains a positive reputation for its car warranty products, an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and rideshare and commercial coverage.

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Zurich Insurance Group is one of the longest-running and largest insurance companies in the world. The company was founded in 1872 in Switzerland. Zurich policies are highly regarded and maintain an A+ BBB rating. However, they are only available through dealerships when purchasing your vehicle.

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Route 66 has been in the warranty business for over 33 years. Their contracts are fully insured and backed by Assurant Solutions and they provide coverage throughout the United States. Their policies are offered only through financial institutions.

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If you’ve got an FCA vehicle, which means Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, Jeep, Alfa Romeo or Fiat, you should seriously consider a Chrysler Warranty Direct policy. They are a direct provider, they utilize only OEM parts and all work is performed at FCA dealerships by trained technicians.

N/A

This protection plan is a great idea for GM vehicles such as Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. The GM plan can extend the coverage of your vehicle by up to 10 years. What sets them apart from the competition is this plan is a true extension of the original warranty provided by General Motors.

See all warranty providers »

Endurance

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Best Direct Service Provider
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3.8 of 5 Stars
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Endurance is the provider you’re likely to hear the most about because they spend a gazillion dollars marketing everywhere. If you’ve ever searched “extended warranty” in Google, these people have been following you around like they used to threaten you about your “permanent record” in junior high.

That said, Endurance has some benefits. They’re not rated or accredited by the BBB, but they have a four-star rating with TrustPilot.

Unlike Carchex, Endurance is a direct provider, meaning that they not only sell the plan, but they also administer it, too. That’s a benefit that we can’t stress enough. In the business world, it’s known as “one throat to choke” when things go wrong. The same company that sold you the plan is the one that’s administering it, so at the very least, the college dropout who sold it to you is going to hear from somebody if you’re not happy with the plan’s performance.

Unlike some of the other providers, there aren’t 839 confusing plans to figure out. They have four levels of coverage: Select Premiere, Secure, Superior, and Supreme. The difference in those plans is how much the plan is going to cover. Secure, for example, appears to only cover what a Powertrain warranty would. As you step up the ladder, you get coverage on other ancillary services. Supreme appears to be a fairly comprehensive, bumper-to-bumper-style service contract.

If you're not exactly sure which level of coverage is right for you and how it may impact pricing, Endurance does a great job of making themselves available to answer questions. They can be reached at (855) 534-1173, or they have a chat function on the website that’s actually responsive and helpful.

Again, with a program like this, you’re going to pay for the repair up front and get reimbursed for the repair when you’ve submitted receipts, which, frankly, kind of stinks. If you’re going to have to have money available to pay for repairs, you might as well just put money in a savings account and not pay for an extended warranty, right?

One of the positives is that you can get your car serviced at any ASE-certified shop, which means you’re a lot closer to getting your car fixed if you’re in the middle of nowhere with a breakdown. That’s not an unwarranted concern. For example, even if you’re in a populated area like Hudson, Massachusetts, 40 minutes west of Boston, if you’re driving something like a MINI Cooper, when you’re on the original factory warranty, they’re going to haul that car to the closest MINI dealer, which is on Commonwealth Avenue, dead center in the heart of Boston. It’s only 21 miles, but that 21 miles can take you three hours if you’re trying to get there at 8:00 in the morning on a weekday.

Other benefits to the program include:

  • Roadside Assistance
  • ID Theft protection
  • A member rewards program
  • Financing for repairs
  • Concierge service for reservations, tickets, directions, and emergencies
  • Key fob replacement
  • Tire Repair/replacement

Endurance Pros and Cons

  • Direct provider
  • Coverage at any ASE certified shop
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Aggressive marketing
  • No OEM backing
  • Low cost options aren’t worth the money

For more in-depth information, read our full Endurance review »

CARCHEX

CARCHEX logo
Best Selection of Plans
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4.9 of 5 Stars
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If your car doesn’t fall into one of the brand-specific service contract companies, check out CARCHEX. They offer service plans for all brands, both new and used. They also have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, meaning that they respond to whatever complaints they get, and they’re probably not hounding you on the phone late at night.

CARCHEX is a service contract broker, so within every tier of their coverage, they have several offerings from third party vendors that can meet your needs. For example, at the highest level, (Titanium Coverage) CARCHEX offers plans from six agencies that run from seven to 10 years worth of coverage.

That’s very important to understand. CARCHEX does NOT administer these plans. They only sell them. Several of the vendors in this list are going to be the same, but others are direct providers, meaning that they administer what they sell. All things being equal, we’d choose a direct provider over anything else. The not-so-hot part of the coverage is that the plan is a reimbursement.Remember the health plan you had years ago that paid for nothing until you paid for it first, then you had to go through a labyrinthine procedure of filing claims with receipts and that whole deal? That’s kind of what’s happening here. It’s not the most convenient thing in the world, and you’re still going to have to pay for the repairs up front. To us, that really defeats the purpose of having an extended warranty in the first place. The whole idea is to AVOID paying for costly repairs, not to pay for them and hope some other company is going to cover them at a later date.

You’ve also got a paradox of choice going on with CARCHEX. They have 21 different plans ranging from Titanium, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, and then down at the bottom somewhere Brass, Tin, Aluminum Foil and Doublemint Gum Wrapper (we’re kidding about the last ones.) This makes it REALLY, REALLY DIFFICULT to figure out what one plan offers versus one of the other CARCHEX plans. Again, all things being equal, we’d choose a vendor with, oh, maybe SIX plans that are easy to understand. The number of plans alone makes it feel like you’re missing something, and you probably are.

In addition to the service contract coverage, the plans also provide some added benefits, such as:

  • 24/7 Roadside Assistance
  • Towing
  • Rental Car coverage
  • Gas Delivery
  • Trip Interruption protection

CARCHEX Pros and Cons

  • Plan flexibility
  • Good customer service (at least on the sales side)
  • Way too many plans to compare accurately
  • 2.3 stars from the BBB

For more in-depth information, read our full CARCHEX review »

autopom!

autopom logo
Great Customer Service
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4.9 of 5 Stars
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Call Now: 888-843-8078

autopom! (the exclamation point is part of the name, don’t blame us for terrible marketing) stands for “automotive peace of mind,” and claims to be protection from expensive auto repairs.

What’s important to note right up front is that autopom! is one of those extended warranty brokers, meaning that they don’t actually provide the services that you’re paying them for. Every one of its plans is administered by another company. The question you have to ask yourself is “Why would I pay money to this company, when the services are being rendered by yet another company?”

It’s a good question. You can look at any one of autopom!’s plans, figure out who administers it, and buy it directly through them, which cuts out the middleman. For example, if you look at the plans detailed, several are administered by Mercury. Why not just go directly to Mercury Insurance yourself and buy that plan there?

The answer is convenience. It’s why most of us will buy stuff from Amazon rather than suffer through the drudgery of having to type the name of the actual provider of a product into the Google search bar instead. You can just as easily buy a pair of Timberland boots from Timberland’s website, but we seem obsessed with paying Amazon to have an army of drones to send it to us instead.

autopom! appears to have a fairly decent reputation on Yelp, as well as a strong profile on BBB with a 4.43 out of 5 rating with 21 reviews there.

It’s important to note that none of the plans autopom! offers are available in every state, and several of the plans are only available in California.

Depending on which contract you purchase, there are some side benefits to the warranty as well:

  • Rental vehicle reimbursement
  • Emergency trip interruption reimbursement
  • Towing and Roadside assistance

autopom! Pros and Cons

  • Wide range of coverage options
  • Pays shop directly
  • autopom! Is a middleman among middlemen
  • 19 plan menu is confusing

For more in-depth information, read our full autopom! review »

Toco Warranty Corporation

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A+ BBB Rating
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4.3 of 5 Stars
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Call Now: 800-276-8769

Toco Warranty Corporation was founded in 2013 in California. This reputable company is backed by AmTrust Financial Services. Despite being a new kid on the scene, Toco has quickly built a solid reputation with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

They are known for offering affordable plans with no down payment and the ability to pay monthly. They have plans to fit almost any budget out there. Toco is also one of the rare companies out there that provides coverage in California.

Additional benefits in all Toco plans include:

  • Roadside Assistance
  • Rental Car
  • Trip Interruption
  • Hotel and Motel Discounts

Toco Pros and Cons

  • Affordable payment plans
  • Offers new and used vehicle coverage
  • Covers vehicles up to 20 years old with 175,000 miles
  • Transferable to new owner
  • Not available in Washington, Missouri, or Alaska
  • Cancelling incurs a $50 fee after 60 days
  • Waiting period of 30 days and 1,000 miles

For more in-depth information, read our full Toco Warranty review »

Ally Financial

Before the Federal Government’s bailout of General Motors, Ally used to be called GMAC and was GM’s captive finance company. After the bailout, GMAC was spun off into a new company called Ally, and when it was, it launched its own service contract offering (GMAC used to administer a similar plan to the GM Extended Protection Plan

It’s a bit of a hybrid because Ally isn’t manufacturer-dependent. You can cover just about any car with Ally. It’s also important to note that it’s a reimbursement plan. If something fails that’s covered by the plan, you submit the receipts and Ally reimburses you for the expense.

If other plans are like collision insurance, think of Ally like an HMO. If your car breaks down, you have to contact Ally to receive authorization before the work can begin. You then submit your invoice to Ally and they reimburse you for the expense.

While not as convenient as some of the other plans, there are a handful of benefits to consider. You aren't restricted to using a dealership’s service department. As long as the repair has been authorized, you can use any mechanic you like. If you have someone you trust in town and the dealership is three towns away, that can be a great benefit. It also provides the use of new, used and remanufactured parts.

The thing we like best about Ally is that the plans are very clear cut, and the contracts contain the specifics for every plan that Ally offers, making it much easier to figure out what’s covered and what’s not by any given plan.

What’s difficult to figure out with Ally is if anybody likes it. As we mentioned, Ally is a massive corporation. It’s real bread-and-butter is auto financing, so when you go to the Better Business Bureau or any rating agency, all -- and we mean ALL -- of the complaints are about people who defaulted on their car loans being harassed to pay their monthly note or run the risk of having the car repossessed. NONE of the hundreds of complaints we read had anything to do with the extended warranty program.

Like the other plans, there are also some significant side benefits to Ally Flex Coverage:

  • 24/7 Roadside Assistance
  • Rental Vehicle Coverage
  • Trip Interruption Prevention (not available in Kansas)

ALLY Pros and Cons

  • Simple marketing that explains what the products offer
  • One contract for all products
  • No confusing differences between “defined benefit” and “exclusionary coverage” products
  • Not as flexible as some other plans
  • Preowned plans are offered almost as a sideline to the plans for new vehiclesPlans aren’t set up to cover electric vehicles

For more in-depth information, read our full Ally Financial review »

Chrysler Warranty Direct

If you’ve got a vehicle produced by FCA (Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Fiat), you should be taking a serious look at Chrysler Warranty Direct before you even consider any other service contract provider.

CWD is an example of a provider that includes all three of our key attributes. They’re a direct provider, meaning that while they’re selling you a contract, they’re also administering the contract when things have gone wrong with your vehicle. Chrysler Warranty Direct also utilizes nothing but OEM parts to service your vehicle, meaning that when it leaves the garage, it will have the same quality parts it left the factory with.

Finally, all of the work performed is at authorized, franchised FCA dealerships, by technicians trained by the factory.

CWD has two tiers of contracts. Added Care Plus covers over 850 different vehicle components, and you can adjust the term from two to two to eight years, and mileage from 60,000 to unlimited. Maximum Care offers the same flexibility in time and mileage, but covers significantly more, with 5,000 components covered, replicating the factory’s original bumper-to-bumper coverage.

In addition to vehicle protection, the plan also provides several other benefits:

  • Towing and Roadside Assistance – 24 hour “Sign & Go” towing and roadside assistance also includes flat tire change, vehicle lockout service, and out-of-gas fuel delivery.
  • First Day Rental - $35 first day rental allowance in case you need a rental car.
  • Rental Car Allowance – Beyond the first day, the plan covers $35 per day for a maximum of five days.
  • $1000 Trip Interruption Coverage – If you’re on the road and your car breaks down, the plan reimburses you for meals, lodging, and transportation expenses up to $1000.
  • One Time Plan Transfer – If you’ve purchased either plan, you can transfer it to the next owner for a nominal transfer fee.

You can also adjust the length of time and the deductible to reduce the monthly cost. The second tier of the service contract is as robust as the original warranty and provides bumper-to-bumper coverage for years after the original warranty runs out.

Chrysler Warranty Direct Pros and Cons

  • Factory authorized for Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, RAM vehicles
  • Available for new or used vehicles
  • Genuine factory parts
  • Not available for any other brands
  • Preowned plans are offered almost as a sideline to the plans for new vehicles

For more in-depth information, read our full Chrysler Warranty Direct review »

GM Extended Protection Plan

Similar to the Chrysler warranty, GM Extended Protection Plans cover GM vehicles (Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac) and extend the coverage of the bumper-to-bumper warranty up to 10 years. GM administers this plan, but the plans are sold through authorized resellers and franchised GM dealerships.

With a GM Extended Protection Plan in place, you don’t need to carry paperwork or special membership cards. Using your vehicle identification number, any authorized GM dealership in the country can access your plan level and provide services using their factory-trained technicians, and service your vehicle with GM-specific parts.

The plan comes in two levels, Silver and Platinum. Silver is an affordable plan that covers major components like the engine, transmission, transfer case, drive axles, factory-installed turbo- or superchargers, steering components, brake components, electrical system components, factory air conditioning components, and seals and gaskets.

Platinum offers everything in the Silver plan, but adds essentially an extension of the factory’s bumper-to-bumper coverage, protecting you from expenses related to failures in items like the entertainment system, rear vision camera, blind spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, and anything else that isn’t a normal wear item.

In addition to vehicle protection, the plan includes several built-in benefits:

  • Rental Car Coverage – Up to $40 per day, with a maximum benefit of $280 per repair visit.
  • Towing and Roadside Assistance – Up to $150 per occurrence.
  • Trip Interruption – In breakdowns that occur more than 100 miles from home, the plan reimburses you up to $200 per day for meals and lodging, with a maximum of $800 per occurrence.
  • Lost Key and Lockout – If your keys are lost, stolen, broken or locked inside the vehicle, the plan reimburses up to $35 for locksmith services.

GM Extended Protection Plan Pros and Cons

  • Great choice for GM vehicles
  • Actual extended warranty coverage to the original warranty
  • Only available for GM brands (Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac)
  • Two year window to purchase extended coverage

For more in-depth information, read our full GM Extended Warranty review »

CarShield

We provided a full review of CarShield, and it doesn’t fare very well compared to some of its competitors, mostly because its reviews on several review sites were dismal.

CarShield offers six different levels of coverage (Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Aluminum, and coverage specific to Motorcycles and ATVs). The difference in coverage is mostly the exclusions. The Diamond level of coverage has the fewest exclusions, while the Aluminum level has the most, meaning that a Diamond plan would theoretically cover more potential service failures than the Aluminum would.

Again, CarShield is a broker of these plans, not the company that’s actually going to administer them. To us, that’s a negative. There’s not much reason to buy a warranty from a broker, when the companies that provide those warranties are clearly spelled out in the company’s product offerings. CarShield is located in St. Peters, Missouri, but all of the warranties it offers under “Diamond” level protection are administered by American Auto Shield, located in Lakewood, Colorado. Why not just buy the warranty directly from them and cut out the middleman?

Depending on which level of service you select, CarShield does provide some additional benefits:

  • Roadside assistance
  • Car rental reimbursement
  • Trip interruption reimbursement

CarShield Pros and Cons

  • Simple marketing that explains what the products offer
  • A wide variety of plans
  • Asistencia en español disponible
  • Reported long wait times to speak to an agent
  • Very poor ratings on some review websites
  • Better Business Bureau Warning

For more in-depth information, read our full CarShield review »

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Our Methodology For Best Warranty Providers

Car Talk has spent the last two months doing a deep dive into the warranties industry for the benefit of our readers. We are about to update all our rankings with the most current and relevant data available in 2021. Our process for deciding on the best warranty companies for 2021 was uniquely thorough, and involved in-depth research into each company, their customer service practices, their contracts and plans offered, along with cross referencing of respected reviews, official ratings, coverage areas and customer experiences.

What’s the Difference Between Direct Warranty Providers and Third Party Providers?

The warranties we’ve mentioned here all fall into a couple of different categories:

Third Party Car Warranty Providers

Companies like Carchex and Endurance are third-party warranty providers. They exist only to administer extended warranty services. They’re neither affiliated with your car dealer, nor the manufacturer of your car.

Pros and Cons

  • Service at ANY participating dealer or shop
  • More flexibility in plan offerings
  • Can be less expensive
  • Service by non-manufacturer authorized shops
  • Many fly-by-night operators, so do your research
  • Some high pressure sales tactics

Direct Warranty Providers

Vendors like Chrysler Warranty Direct and the GM Extended Protection Plan are offered and administered by the vehicle manufacturer.

Pros and Cons

  • Service is provided by franchised new car dealers
  • Parts are factory authorized
  • Factory training for technicians
  • Less flexibility in plan offerings
  • Can be more expensive
  • More limited network of shops

What is a Car Warranty?

Everybody -- including us now -- is using “car warranty” incorrectly. The only car warranty that exists is the warranty your car came with when it was new. Everything else -- LITERALLY. EVERYTHING. ELSE. -- is a prepaid service plan. It’s not an “extended warranty,” no matter what these companies, or people like us who have to live by the vagaries of Google search optimization would like to call it.

With all that out of the way, what is a prepaid service plan? It’s a service contract, where you pay a monthly fee to avoid having to pay a huge bill if something really bad happens to your car when your original new car warranty runs out of time or mileage. Prepaid service plans will vary all over the place in terms of both time and mileage. Thinking of keeping your car to 120,000 miles? There are service plans out there that will cover you. Figure you’ll trade this car in at no more than 80,000 miles? You can find a service plan that will cover the gap between there and the end of your original warranty.

How these plans differ is the rules under which they’ll pay for a repair. Say your transmission falls out at 92,000 miles: Some of these plans are only affiliated with franchised new car dealerships, so you’ll have to have it towed to a dealer. Some plans will let you use any ASE-certified mechanic for a repair, so you can use the guy you like who happens to work out of a gas station in your town.

The plan that makes you use a dealership might seem like it’s at a disadvantage, but consider this: Those plans also require the repair to be performed by factory authorized technicians, using only OEM replacement parts. The plan that allows you to use your gas station guy might force him to select the cheapest Chinesium replacement parts available, which you’ll be replacing again in a much shorter period of time.

That’s why reading the contract and understanding the advantages and disadvantages is so critical.

Are Car Warranties Worth It?

As with everything, it depends. If you’re driving something with an exceptional reputation for reliability, you probably shouldn’t spend the money. However, if you’re driving something British, you should’ve bought that service contract already. What are you waiting for? Your electrical system has already consumed itself.

The best thing to do is spend some time researching your car’s (or your intended car’s) repair history. There are services like RepairPal and CarComplaints can give you a good idea of the potential trouble issues. You also want to research the cost of specific repairs. Your car might be generally reliable but prone to failures of the Engine Control Unit, which might be particularly expensive for your model. You’d want to know that before you make a decision on whether to purchase a warranty or not.

We found a Dear Car Talk letter with Tom and Ray that we think does a great job summarizing how you should decide whether an extended warranty is worth the extra cash. Here it is:

Dear Tom and Ray:

We just picked up a new Fiat 500C, and we were pondering the lifetime warranty. Before the car hits 10,000 miles, we have to decide whether to buy it. The cost is around $3,000. Is something like this worth it? We would like to keep the car for 10-15 years. Cheers!

Karl

RAY: Generally speaking, extended warranties are not worth it. Why? Because if insurance companies didn't take in more money from premiums -- overall -- than they spent on repairs, they would stop selling the things.

TOM: But that doesn't mean it's not worth it to you. Maybe you're buying a car with unknown long-term reliability? Hint: You are.

RAY: Or maybe you're someone who sleeps better knowing for certain that you'll never get a call from the service manager telling you that the estimate for your new engine is $6,400.

TOM: But there are two variables to consider. The most important is the fine print.

RAY: What does this "lifetime warranty" actually cover? Is it a complete extension of the factory warranty? Is it just the powertrain? Does it cover body hardware and electrical issues? What, specifically, is excluded? "Wear items," like brakes and shocks?

TOM: What's the deductible? Are there conditions you have to meet to keep the warranty in force? For instance, do you have to get your car serviced regularly at the dealership? Do you have to keep written records of all of your services and oil changes?

RAY: If you don't feel capable of doing a "close read" of the warranty's fine print by yourself, then it's worth paying an independent mechanic you trust to read it and go over it with you. You want to know what is and isn't covered. Your mechanic also can talk to you about how often he sees the kinds of repairs that are covered, and how often he sees those that aren't.

TOM: Once you know what kind of warranty you're actually buying, then you can try to guess the likelihood that you'll spend $3,000 on those kinds of repairs in the years that you own your car.

RAY: Also keep in mind that the price of the warranty is negotiable. Like most "parts," an extended warranty is bought by the dealer at one price, and sold to you at a higher price -- sometimes double. So you often can negotiate a lower price.

TOM: But don't do anything until you understand what the warranty actually covers. It may be a great warranty, with a low deductible and very few exclusions or requirements. And it may help you sleep well for the next 15 years.

RAY: Or it may have more holes in it than my brother's favorite underwear. And you may decide you're better off buying a second Fiat 500C and just driving whichever one is working on a given day. Good luck, Karl.

What is a Good Car Warranty?

The bottom line is this: A “Good” car warranty is one that clearly explains what it’s going to cover LONG before you need to use it. At this point, we’ve read about 93,397 complaints about car warranty companies in our research on this topic. The complaints about “bad” car warranty companies come in two categories: The first is “They won’t stop calling me.” The second is “I thought my timing belt was covered but it wasn’t.” Frankly, if you didn’t know what was covered in the warranty, you should never have signed the contract. That’s on you.

In general, we’d choose a warranty provider using factory trained technicians and OEM parts before we chose anything else. If you’re within the strict mileage and year of manufacture caps on some of these service plans, they offer a much better product, with repairs that are going to last longer than those using aftermarket parts.

The other thing a good car warranty provides is additional services when you’re out of town. About the worst thing that can happen is a major automotive failure when you’re on the road with your family, loaded with a week’s worth of luggage, on your way to a vacation. You want an extended warranty that is going to get you on the road as fast and as cheaply as humanly possible with things like towing assistance, rental car coverage and even lodging if you need to stay overnight before you hit the road again in the morning.

What is Covered Under a Car Warranty?

First, stop reading and go back to the top of the section above this one and read it again: What’s covered in a warranty is only what’s detailed in the contract. Read the contract. Then read it again.

You also need to understand that there are two main types of warranties offered in the industry. Exclusionary policies and inclusionary policies. It may appear that they offer similar coverage, but they do so in dramatically different ways. This is why it is of vital importance that you read your contract thoroughly.

An exclusionary policy lists the items that are NOT COVERED under the policy. Anything not listed under the list of exclusions is covered under that policy.

An inclusionary policy, sometimes referred to as listed-item coverage, works the exact opposite way. These policies provide a detailed listing of what is covered. If something is not listed specifically in the policy, it is not covered under that plan.

IN GENERAL, most warranty providers are going to offer several levels of service, and what’s covered in those levels of service varies wildly from plan to plan. A BASIC extended warranty will typically cover:

Engine Components

  • All internally lubricated parts contained within the engine
  • Intake & exhaust manifolds
  • Balance shaft
  • Water pump
  • Fuel pump
  • Diesel injection pump & diesel oil controlled fuel injectors
  • Oil pump
  • Turbocharger/supercharger assembly including boost valve, boost pressure control, wastegate, recirculation and blow off valve; seals and gaskets

Transmission Components

  • All internally lubricated parts contained within the transmission
  • Transaxle and transfer case
  • Shift cover and forks
  • Bell housing & components within the bell housing
  • Torque converter
  • External valve bodies
  • Control units, solenoids; seals and gaskets.

Drivetrain Components

  • All internally lubricated parts contained within the differential/axle housing(s)
  • 4x4 locking hubs and electric or vacuum actuators

When you step up the ladder to more expensive plans, they pick up where the cheaper basic plan leaves off, covering things like:

Engine

  • Oil pan
  • Valve, timing, and side covers
  • Thermostat housing
  • Water pump pulley
  • Engine mounts
  • Harmonic balancer
  • Flex plate/flywheel and ring gear.

Colling

  • Radiator
  • Mounting brackets and coolant recovery tank
  • Fan clutch, fan blades and motor & fan shroud;
  • Heater core
  • Transmission oil cooler
  • Engine oil cooler.

Transmission

  • Oil pan
  • Detent cable
  • Kickdown link
  • Throttle cable
  • Vacuum modulator
  • Transmission mounts.

Drive Axle

  • Constant velocity joints and boots
  • Slip joint
  • Front wheel drive axles/half-shafts and wheel bearings
  • U-joints; couplings; flex disc; prop shafts; center support bearings.

Steering

  • Tie rods, idler and pitman arms
  • Center/drag link
  • Coupling and shafts
  • Cooler lines; steering gear housing and internal parts
  • Rack and pinion housing and internal parts
  • Power steering pump and internal parts including reservoir
  • Electric steering motor
  • Power steering pump or electric steering motor mounting brackets; seals and gaskets.

Brakes

  • Compensator/proportioning valve & metering valve
  • Calipers
  • Wheel cylinders
  • Backing plate; brake adjusters and brake hardware
  • Brake pedal, pedal lever and pedal pivot
  • Parking brake linkage/ratchet assembly and cable
  • Anti-lock braking system component parts including control processor/module, pump, dump valve, wheel speed sensors, solenoids, accumulator, yaw rate sensor, and pressure differential switch
  • Master cylinder; vacuum or hydraulic brake booster assembly; hydraulic lines, hoses and fittings; brake pedal apply pin; seals and gaskets.

AC

  • Accumulator; receiver drier; automatic temperature control programmer; clutch assembly including coil, disc and pulley; control cables; cutoff switch; serpentine belt tensioner, bearing and pulley; condenser; compressor; evaporator; orifice/expansion valve; seals and gaskets.

Suspension

  • Upper and lower control arms
  • Shafts and bushings
  • Upper and lower ball joints
  • Struts
  • Wheel bearings/hubs
  • Spindle/steering knuckle and spindle support
  • Coil and leaf springs
  • Seats and bushings
  • Leaf spring shackles
  • Track bars
  • Links and bushings
  • Electronic level control components including pump, accumulator, lines, bags
  • Stabilizer bar, links and bushings; kingpin; torsion bar, mounts and bushings
  • Tension rods/radius arm.

Electrical

  • Front and rear wiper motor
  • Transmission and linkage
  • Power window motor
  • Window regulators
  • Power seat motor
  • Steering column multi-function switch and individual switches for turn signal, headlamp, dimmer, wiper, washer and cruise control
  • Clock spring/spiral cable
  • Mirror motor switch
  • Brake light switch
  • Neutral safety switch
  • Glove box light switch
  • Courtesy light switch
  • Cooling fan relay
  • Air control solenoid
  • Air regulator valve
  • Idle air control motor
  • Electronic ignition module
  • Ignition coil
  • Engine distributor including shaft
  • Gear, bushings and modules
  • Electronic throttle control
  • Gas pedal position sensor/assembly
  • Throttle position sensor
  • Vehicle speed sensor
  • Manifold absolute pressure sensor
  • Knock sensor and barometric pressure sensor
  • Alternator
  • Alternator mounting bracket
  • Voltage regulator
  • Starter motor
  • Solenoid and drive

Additional Hybrid and EV Components

  • Motor/generator belt tensioner
  • Drive motor dampener
  • Voltage inverter reservoir
  • Three-phase high voltage cables
  • Hydraulic or electric regenerative braking system
  • Hybrid/ EV/hydrogen battery (nickel-metal hydrate or lithium-ion drive propulsion battery) including the case and mounting hardware, junction block, main battery cable, and frame wire
  • Onboard battery charging system including charge controller, plug in outlets, plug in cable, and trickle charger cable
  • Electric AC compressor and motor
  • Electric steering rack, gear, and motor
  • Electro/hydraulic power steering pump and reservoir
  • Hydrogen fuel cell stack
  • Battery cooling pump
  • Seals and gaskets

What is Not Covered Under a Car Warranty?

At the risk of being repetitive: READ THE CONTRACT. It will detail exactly what’s not included in the plan. Also, remember the very significant difference between exclusionary and inclusionary policies. Exclusionary policies list what is NOT COVERED, while inclusionary policies list what IS COVERED. So, one more time, with feeling… Read your contract.

In general, there are categories of things that an extended warranty is never going to cover:

  • Aftermarket Parts: This may come as a shock, but your extended warranty provider is not responsible for covering the Wu Tang War Whistle turbo you bought off of Amazon Prime for $59.95. Read your contract about what it will cover. Some aftermarket items may be covered, but don’t bet on it.

  • Normal Wear Items: Tires, brakes, mufflers and windshield wipers are generally not part of the list of things an extended warranty is going to cover. That’s hugely problematic in 2021, when a set of factory 22-inch tires, brake rotors and pads can easily set you back $3,500. It stings even more when you’ve paid for a $3,500 warranty and you find out you’re still on the hook for 100 percent of the cost.

  • Hybrids and EVs: Make sure you read the contract carefully if you’re attempting to cover your EV or hybrid. A LOT of extended warranty providers exclude a lot of repair on EVs and hybrids. Again, it’s good to look to the manufacturer who built these things for coverage.

  • “Exotic” Cars: Exotic is in quotes because most people don’t consider a BMW “exotic,” but quite a few extended warranty providers do. We researched one extended warranty provider that refused to cover anything from BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, or even some more expensive cars from American manufacturers, like the Corvette. That’s about 40 percent of the cars sold in the United States. Find somebody else.

  • Emissions-Related Parts: This seems like a negative, but it’s not unless you’re driving something much older with a ton of miles. The federal government makes manufacturers cover most of the expensive emissions-related parts until 100,000 miles.

  • Collision Repair: You’d be shocked at how many complaints we read from people who are mad that their extended warranty provider denied their smashed bumper cover. Wake up, people. An extended warranty isn’t a force field.

How Much Does a Car Warranty Cost?

Ah, that’s the eternal question and we’re providing a slippery answer: It depends.

There are simply too many factors to nail down exactly what a service contract or extended warranty is going to cost. In the table, we’ve provided some sample costs from research we’ve done, but we can’t cover every single car, every single plan and all the variables that impact cost, like the length or mileage of the contract, or the mileage on the car. The cost to you depends entirely on a bunch of unique factors, like the age of your car, the make and model, the mileage, the reliability of it, and the actuarial tables used by the warranty providers to determine the probability of the life of your vehicle.

The greatest cost advantage you’ll realize is if you’re buying a service contract at the time you purchased a new car. In general, the company providing the service contract is going to be more likely to cut you a deal on a service contract if your original warranty is still in effect. They’re also more likely to be less expensive if you’re attempting to buy a service contract for a one-owner, low mileage vehicle than something that’s had more owners than your local newspaper.

If we looked at an average cost for a warranty, you’re looking at around $1,400. The thing to consider, though, is based on surveys from consumer groups, the average savings for repairs paid for with a service contract only amounts to about $900. In other words, if you end up getting more repairs paid for than you paid in service contract fees, you’re kind of a rarity.

What is a Fair Price for an Extended Car Warranty?

You’re going to read all kinds of nonsense elsewhere that will tell you that a warranty should cost around $1,500. If you can find a warranty that covers anything but a Toyota Corolla with zero miles for any more than two years and 24,000 miles, buy it. Most warranties are going to be WAY more expensive.

The staff and research team at Car Talk has now spoken with a good amount of players in the warranty industry. It appears that the average price across all categories, all make/models, all car types is roughly $3000. Again, this figure will depend on all the factors listed in the section above. Reliable cars will cost less, unreliable cars will cost more. Expect to pay way more if you are driving a luxury car, like a Bentley or a Range Rover. Each provider has a number of plans, and payment options available, including monthly installments which make things easier on the consumer.

We took a look at what a bunch of random internet dopes told us they were quoted for a range of warranties, and whether or not they came with a deductible. There was ONE that was $2,000. All the rest were significantly more expensive. Warranties for cars like the BMW X5 are breathtakingly expensive, especially if you’re trying to buy one for a used car.

Vehicle*Term*Total CostDeductible**

When to Consider an Extended Car Warranty

The biggest thing to consider when you think about buying an extended warranty is how much you could possibly cover if your car suffered a significant failure. 56% of us have less than $5,000 in liquid cash. A third of us have less than $1,000. As you can see in the “Cost of Service of a Modern Vehicle” section below. You can see that a thousand bucks doesn’t provide a lot of service if you really need it. But that’s not the only consideration when thinking about a service contract like this. You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long will I keep this car? This is key. If you’re honest with yourself and you realize that you’ve never kept a car for more than four years, an extended warranty probably isn’t a good use of funds, unless the warranty is transferable, and you can use it as a selling feature if you’re going to sell the car privately.
  • Do I have the money to fix something that’s broken? According to AAA, the average repair bill amounts to about $500, a figure that ⅓ of Americans don’t have the money to pay for. If you’re that person, you might be better off buying an extended warranty and spreading the cost of repair bills out over time. If you have the cash to cover a failure, an extended warranty is almost NEVER a good idea, especially if it’s one of the plans that don’t cover the repairs directly, but instead makes you pay for them and wait for a reimbursement.
  • Am I going to read the service contract? The biggest complaint about extended warranties is related to the fact that most people have ABSOLUTELY no idea what the hell they purchased. They need $2,000 worth of brakes and tires, and they’re shocked to learn that the extended warranty doesn’t cover it. This is your homework: If you want one of these plans, download the available sample contracts from the website and READ THEM. It’s vital to understand the exclusions in the extended warranty before you buy one.
  • What kind of car am I buying? You can roughly predict how reliable your car is going to be by researching its history with services like Consumer Reports or CarComplaints.com. In general, if you’re buying a brand new Honda Accord, you’re less likely to require major services than you are if you bought a Land Rover. But we will say this: Car repairs on anything are going to be expensive. If you’re one of the few people who happens to be driving a Honda with a bad transmission, writing the check for five grand to repair it isn’t going to sting any less than if you were driving a BMW.
  • Is my car covered under a new car or CPO warranty? Buying additional warranties on top of your original new vehicle warranty isn’t necessarily the best use of your money. You typically have time to purchase an extended warranty if you’re buying a new car, so there’s no point in choosing one at the time of purchase, unless you’re insistent on rolling the monthly cost into your car payment (which is not a good idea if you’re also paying high interest.) You need to understand what protections you have already as part of a new vehicle warranty or a certified pre-owned warranty before you purchase additional protections.
  • Is the warranty transferable? There is some value in an extended warranty even if you do decide to sell the car before the warranty period is over, IF the warranty is transferable to the next owner. Sometimes the transfer comes with a nominal fee, but sometimes the warranty expires when ownership is transferred. Take a close look at the terms in the contract to understand the limitations.

There are more questions to answer in our “Should I Get an Extended Warranty” infographic.

What to Look For in an Extended Warranty (aka Service Contract) for Your Car

Car warranty contract
Read your contact before signing an extended warranty

Obviously, you want to spend a lot of time looking at the fine print in any of these service contracts, and yes, cost should be a significant consideration. But there are three things that make several stands out above the others:

  • OEM Parts - Again, think of this like you do collision insurance. If you know your insurance company would only pay for the cheapest aftermarket replacement parts, why would you buy it? A service contract that pays for parts that were made by the manufacturer of your vehicle can be better than the alternative.
  • Service at Franchised Dealerships - Some service contracts suggest that you can have your car serviced at thousands of shops around the country, but when you’re on vacation in the middle of nowhere you find out that one of those locations is a gas station. Service contracts that work with franchised dealerships with a service staff that is trained and experienced working on your brand of the vehicle can be an advantage.
  • Direct Providers - A direct provider not only sells the contract but administers it, too.

There are service contracts that we like that don’t fall into these categories, though, and we’re not saying they’re bad. In fact, there are very good reasons to purchase one:

  • Aftermarket Parts - Once your vehicle runs out of its original warranty, it’s almost a certainty that you’re going to be using aftermarket parts to fix it if you have to pay for it yourself.
  • Non-Franchised Service Departments - Think of this like HMO coverage. You like the guy in your town that works in your car now, right? It would be great to have a service contract that would pay him, rather than making you go to some “in-network” guy that you’ve never heard of before.
  • Contract Brokers - A few of our recommendations are service contract brokers, meaning that they work with a number of service contract providers to get you the best deal possible.

What’s Covered by Your Original Warranty?

Before you even begin to do your research on extended warranties, you should know if you are already covered.

The only warranty that’s an actual “warranty” is the written guarantee from the manufacturer that agrees to repair your car if one of its parts fails during a specific period of time and/or mileage. If you’re the original owner of a brand new car, you got one of those when you purchased it. You may have also had that original warranty transferred to you if you were the second owner of a car and bought it when the time and/or mileage of the original warranty hadn’t run out.

Those original warranties break down into a few different categories:

  • Powertrain Warranty - The original powertrain warranty covers anything related to how your vehicle powers itself down the road. Engine, transmission, transfer case, differential, all of these items are typically covered in a powertrain warranty. Time and mileage on these can range from just four years or 50,000 miles (hello, Mercedes-Benz) to 10 years or 100,000 miles (Hyundai, Genesis, Kia, Mitsubishi).
  • Basic Coverage Warranty - Often referred to as the “bumper-to-bumper” warranty, it basically covers everything that isn’t either powertrain or basic maintenance related. It won’t cover tires and brake pads, but it will cover just about anything else. Most of the industry provides a four year, 50,000-mile basic warranty, but a lot of manufacturers are at three years or 36,000 miles now. The longest is Volkswagen at six years or 72,000 miles.
  • Corrosion Warranty - Back in the 1970s and 1980s, you could hear cars rust on the showroom floor. Now, manufacturers protect the sheet metal on their vehicles for a good long time. Mercedes-Benz is the shortest at four years or 50,000 miles. BMW, Mini, Audi, Porsche, and Volvo offer an amazing 12 year, unlimited mileage corrosion warranty. Something to think about when buying a car where salt is used on the roads.
  • Emissions Warranty - If your vehicle has a failing emissions component and you’re the first owner, there’s a good chance that the manufacturer will fix it for free. That’s not because they’re nice, it’s because the government mandates it. The EPA’s emissions warranty is good for eight years or 80,000 miles. “Extended warranties” or “service contracts” really only kick in AFTER those original warranties have run out. If you buy one of those when the car is brand new and roll it into your monthly payment, you’re paying for that warranty for YEARS before you can ever collect on it. That’s why extended warranty companies allow you to purchase warranties for years after you’ve owned your car.
  • Hybrid/EV Warranty - If you’ve purchased a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, you have a different warranty than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. That’s because the Federal Government -- and sometimes the individual states -- require that the major system components that make a hybrid or an EV work are covered for an extended period. Major Hybrid System Components, for example, are covered for 8 years and 100,000 miles. A hybrid battery may have coverage for 10 years and 150,000 miles, depending on the state in which the vehicle is registered and operated. Note that because of this, some extended warranty providers don’t cover hybrids or EVs at all.

You will need to check with your manufacturer to know if your particular car is still covered by its original warranty.

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What About My Certified Pre-Owned Warranty?

The only real “extended warranty” that comes from the manufacturer is the extension of coverage that comes if you purchase one of the cars it offers through a Certified Pre-Owned program.

Manufacturers like Lexus will extend the original Basic Coverage out to six years with unlimited mileage, which is pretty sweet if you drive a lot. It also throws in things like up to four factory recommended services in the span of two years or 20,000 miles.

If you’re looking at used cars and you have the choice between a car with or without the Certified Pre-Owned stamp of approval with the extension of the original warranty coverage, the one with it is almost always the better deal.

The Cost of Service in a Modern Vehicle May Justify an Extended Warranty

There was a time when most consumer watchdogs would never advocate purchasing a service contract. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, for example, cars were infinitely more reliable than they had been in the 1970s. Yet, they were still relatively simple machines; the only really expensive things that went wrong were the engine and the transmission, and they’d become reliable enough to make service contracts redundant.

It’s a different story in the modern era, though. Whether you purchase a car that was built in Japan, South Korea, England, Italy, Germany, or the United States, they are uniformly expensive to repair, and while the engine and transmission are still both expensive, some of the systems that monitor and regulate their performance are staggeringly costly to repair. If you own a car from the 2010s, it is the single most powerful computer you own. They can be unreliable, and they’re expensive to fix.

The computer network that makes your car operate is more complex than you can imagine. Your average Chrysler, for example, has 44 different computer modules that manage everything from the fuel/air ratio to the speed of the windshield wipers.

The cost to replace some of these modules can be as expensive as replacing a rear differential. Take a look at the cost of replacing the Engine Control Module for a vehicle as pedestrian as the Chrysler 300 with a 3.6-liter V-6. The part alone costs almost $700. Considering diagnostic time and labor to actually perform the replacement and you could easily be past $1,200.

Another good example is an auto stop/start technology. This feature was introduced as a means of scavenging a bit of extra fuel economy when the car was stuck in traffic and not actually moving. The idea is sound: Why spend money idling your fuel away when the car can automatically turn off and on in traffic?

You start running into problems, though, with how that system works. It seems simple enough. You turn your car off and on every day, right? The difference is that you turn your car off and on when the gear shift is in “PARK.” Auto stop-start does it when the vehicle is in “DRIVE,” something that was expressly forbidden in the owner’s manual in cars since the advent of the automatic transmission. To make auto stop/start work, pressure has to be maintained in the transmission’s hydraulic system. That requires an additional electric pump. In the case of a lot of vehicles, that pump is housed within the transmission. If it fails, it means the transmission needs to be removed and serviced, something that nobody ever wants to have to pay for.

The list of Very Expensive Technology You Do Not Want to Pay For if it Fails is getting longer by the day. Radar-guided cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, cross-traffic alert: all of these technologies are great and are hard at work saving lives, but the expense of keeping them working long after the original basic warranty has expired is something you don’t want to have to take on. Depending on the level of coverage you purchase, all of that stuff can be covered. But what about the run-of-the mill repairs we all have to deal with on a regular basis? What does it cost to repair that? Is it covered by an extended warranty? Let’s take a look at the ten most frequent routine repairs:

RepairIs it Covered?Cost including labor

Take a look at this list, and really pay attention to the stuff that isn’t covered. It would feel pretty lousy to spend $1,400 to $2,500 for an extended warranty, and still be facing a bill for $2,200 for brakes and tires, right?

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FAQ

Who offers the best car warranty?

We’re fans of extended warranties that are offered by the same company that manufactures the car. Mopar Vehicle Protection, for example, is a product of the same company that produces your Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, RAM, Fiat, or Alfa Romeo vehicle. It’s more tailored to those specific vehicles. Those are a better choice than the less familiar brands that purport to have warranties for all brands.

Is it worth it to buy an extended car warranty?

On average, probably not. Most people end up saving less than a plan would cost. But that’s the average. There are a lot of people running around with ultra-reliable cars like Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys that buy extended warranty coverage and never use it. Then there are people who buy extended warranties on their Range Rover and end up saving more than the vehicle was worth in the first place.

What is the average price for an extended car warranty?

On average, an extended warranty will run between $1,200 and $1,500. That price will go up the longer you want coverage, or the smaller deductible you choose.

Does AAA offer extended warranties?

Yes, AAA does offer extended car warranties in some areas. However, each local club determines the offering, so start with your local chapter for details.

Can I get an extended warranty for a new car?

Yes you can, and it’s sometimes an advantage to do so. You can roll the cost into your monthly payment if you’d rather not pay for it separately.

Can I get an extended warranty for a used car?

Yes, depending on the mileage and how old the car is. Usually, those mileage caps tend to kick in around 100,000 miles, and the vehicle typically needs to be less than eight years old. See Car Talk's top recommendations for Best Used Car Warranties here.

Is CarShield a rip off?

Although not a direct provider, CarShield does a great job of building awareness about its brokerage services. The Better Business Bureau, however, advises caution when considering doing business with CarShield and even gives them an F rating, so we'd recommend reviewing our checklist of how to find a reputable car warranty company.

Where can I get my car repaired with an extended warranty?

It totally depends on the contract. Some service contracts require that you have your car repaired at franchised dealerships. Others say you can get the car repaired anywhere, but require a lot of phone calls ahead of time on the part of the garage so that the cost of repair can be pre-approved. Every extended warranty is different, so read the fine print.

What if I already have a car warranty from the manufacturer?

That’s fantastic. It will cover your vehicle at no cost because that warranty was provided by the original manufacturer. But that warranty typically runs out in three or four years. Extended warranties and service contracts provide coverage after the original warranty has expired.

How much does an extended car warranty cost?

In general terms, an extended car warranty is going to cost between $800 and $1,000 that covers most major components with a $100 deductible on a new or a low-mileage used car.

Is CarShield worth the money?

Vehicle owners who would have their monthly budget upset by a large vehicle repair cost may find CarSheild a good value. Also, owners of vehicles with known problems may also benefit.

How Much Does a CarShield vehicle service protection plan (warranty) cost?

Our research shows that a plan typically costs buyers $129.99 per month, but that available discounts can drop that price to as low as $100 per month.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.
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