Editor's note: Although the terms extended warranty and vehicle service contract are often used interchangeably by consumers, vehicle manufacturers offer true extended warranties while third-party companies offer vehicle service contracts. As a third-party company, CarShield provides vehicle service contracts.

Extended car warranties can be difficult to understand, even for people who are well-versed in the ways of the auto industry. In this article, we’ll provide useful information on how extended warranties work and discuss some of the industry's best car warranty companies like CarShield.

Our review team has sifted through dozens of vehicle service contracts to find the best coverage available, so we’ll also delve into where you can go to have your repairs covered under your vehicle protection plan.


In this article:

What Repair Facilities Can I Use With An Extended Warranty?

One of the most common questions among drivers interested in extended warranties is where they can take their cars for repairs. This generally depends on whether the car is still under factory warranty or which provider the extended warranty was purchased from.

Repair Shops For Factory Warranties

If your vehicle is still under its original factory warranty, your repair facility options will likely be much more limited than they’ll be if your vehicle is covered by an extended warranty. With a factory warranty, repairs typically must be performed at the dealership where you purchased your new or pre-owned car or at another participating dealership.

Though there may be select repair shops you can visit when your car is under factory warranty, it’s best to head to the dealership for more extensive repairs. This is because the dealership has a record of your vehicle’s service history, making it easier to keep track of what repairs have and haven’t been done.

A strong service record can also boost a car’s resale value. Wherever you take your vehicle for maintenance, don’t neglect routine checkups. A lapse in basic maintenance can void a manufacturer’s warranty.

Repair Shops For Extended Warranties

If you purchase an extended warranty from a dealership, the same rules apply for any needed repairs. You'll likely have to visit the dealership repair shop.

One of the main selling points for third-party extended warranty providers is that they allow you more flexibility in coverage and more freedom in choosing your repair shops than you would have with a manufacturer extended warranty. With most third-party extended warranties, any certified mechanic can perform automotive repair work.

Where Can Repairs Be Performed?
Extended Warranty Provider Dealership ASE-Certified Repair Shops
Protect My Car

Mechanics and repair shops receive certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®). Your local repair shop may be ASE-certified, meaning you can bring your car to your favorite mechanic.

However, the exact details of your coverage depend on the extended warranty provider and protection plan you choose, so it’s best to read the fine print before taking your car to your local repair shop.

Finding A Repair Shop With CarShield

Finding a repair shop has never been easier than it is today. For example, one of the industry's highest-rated extended warranty providers CarShield offers its Shield Repair Network to help drivers find reputable, approved repair shops in many locations.

The Shield Repair Network – which came from a long-standing partnership between CarShield and American Auto Shield – not only provides customers with information about repair shops in the CarShield network that can perform covered repairs, but also alerts drivers to RepairPal-approved facilities.

Advantages that come with using the Shield Repair Network include:

  • Access to CarShield customer service representatives
  • Use of the repair facility locator within the CarShield app
  • A convenient way to find an ASE-certified repair facility near you
  • Faster claims processing
  • Peace of mind from knowing your repairs will be covered if they meet the terms of your extended warranty agreement

With the Shield Repair Network, you can set up search filters to show repair facilities within a 5-, 10-, 25-, or 50-mile radius of your location. Our review team recommends this tool for drivers struggling to find reputable repair facilities close to home.

What Repairs Does An Extended Auto Warranty Cover?

Extended warranties are vehicle service contracts that cover the cost of repairs and replacement parts for mechanical breakdowns. They typically do not cover routine maintenance.

Extended warranties are designed to give you peace of mind once your factory warranty expires. While a factory warranty – also known as a manufacturer’s warranty – comes with the purchase of a new vehicle, an aftermarket or third-party extended warranty is sold separately. Most used vehicles can be covered under an extended warranty as long as the car is within the coverage limits. Coverage limits typically include a maximum number of miles on your odometer and a maximum age of the vehicle for it to still be under warranty.

The vehicle repairs or parts replacements covered by your extended warranty depend on the provider and level of coverage you purchase. Routine maintenance services such as oil changes, brake pad replacement, and tire replacement are almost always excluded from extended warranty coverage.

Below are two standard extended warranty coverage options you are almost certain to come across, although they will probably have different names depending on the third-party provider you select.

Common Types of Warranties
Type of Warranty Warranty Details
Bumper-to-bumper warranty This warranty offers the most comprehensive and best coverage available. Bumper-to-bumper plans will usually cover most of your vehicle’s major mechanical and electrical systems.
Powertrain warranty Less comprehensive than bumper-to-bumper protection, this plan covers repairs on the parts of your car that make it move: the drivetrain, engine, and transmission.

If you were shopping with CarShield, you would select the Diamond plan for the highest level of coverage or the Silver plan for basic powertrain coverage. Most extended warranty companies also offer a variety of mid-level plans, and some have coverage for non-standard vehicles like motorcycles.

Exclusionary Warranty Vs. Stated-Component Warranty

Along with the two types of warranties you are most likely to encounter, it’s important to understand the difference between an exclusionary warranty and a stated-component warranty.

Although coverage details differ depending on the warranty provider, every bumper-to-bumper protection plan is accompanied by a list of car parts that are excluded from coverage. For this reason, bumper-to-bumper protection plans are often referred to as “exclusionary warranties.” Exclusionary contracts are typically seen with more comprehensive warranty plans, as most parts and car repairs are covered – making it simpler to list what isn’t covered.

A stated-component warranty – otherwise known as an inclusionary auto warranty – covers every part of the vehicle that is explicitly stated in the vehicle service contract. If a part or repair is not in the contract, it’s not covered.

To further understand the difference between an exclusionary and inclusionary warranty, take CarShield’s Diamond warranty service plan versus its Platinum plan, for example. The Diamond plan is exclusionary because its contract lists only parts that aren’t covered (hoses, belts, wear and tear items, etc.). However, the contract that comes with the Platinum plan explicitly lists each covered item (engine, transmission, cooling system, electrical system, etc.)

Cost Of An Extended Warranty

According to research conducted by our review team, the average price of an extended car warranty is $2,862. However, warranty costs generally range from about $1,600 to $4,500.

Factors that may affect the cost of an extended warranty include:

  • The provider
  • Your location
  • Your vehicle’s age, make, model, and mileage
  • Your deductible

From the purchase price of your vehicle to repair and maintenance costs, you will spend a lot of money on your car. That’s why buying an extended warranty can be a great way to keep costs down.

To see how much you would pay for coverage from CarShield, get a free quote for your vehicle.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are extended warranties dealer-specific?

While most car manufacturers offer extended warranties through dealerships at the time of vehicle purchase, many aftermarket providers that are not dealer-specific provide extended warranty coverage.

Can I use my extended warranty anywhere?

If you purchase a third-party extended warranty rather than a dealership extended warranty, you will most likely have the freedom to choose any ASE-certified repair facility you like. This is not always the case, though, so read the fine print of your contract to fully understand where you can receive service under your extended warranty coverage.

Can a dealer terminate your warranty coverage if you go elsewhere for a repair?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it is illegal for a dealer to drop your warranty coverage just because you took your vehicle to an independent automobile repair shop for routine maintenance or repairs. However, you may need to go to select repair shops to receive free repairs with your warranty.

What happens if a car cannot be fixed under warranty?

If your new car is under a manufacturer’s warranty and cannot be fixed, we recommend reading up on your state’s Lemon Law to review what your next steps may be.

What happens if a company won’t honor its warranty?

If a company won’t honor its warranty, one course of action is to sue in small claims court. A warranty is a contract, and if a contract is breached, you can make your claim in court.

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