New cars typically come with a factory warranty from the manufacturer, which covers the cost of unexpected repairs resulting from mechanical breakdowns or faulty workmanship. Most car dealerships offer the chance to purchase an extended warranty when you buy your vehicle, which lengthens your coverage once the factory warranty expires. Even if you opt out of extended coverage at the time of purchase, you can get protection down the road.

So, when should you get extended warranty coverage for your vehicle? It’s smart to consider factors like your car’s age, the types of extended warranties available, and which components you want covered. Our team has researched the best extended car warranty companies like CarShield to help you determine the right time for extended coverage.


In this article:

Types Of Extended Car Warranties

Before determining when to add extended warranty coverage for your vehicle, it helps to understand the different types of warranty plans so you can get a sense of what type of coverage you need.

Powertrain Vs. Bumper-To-Bumper Warranties

Powertrain warranties and bumper-to-bumper warranties are two standard kinds of coverage you can expect from a warranty provider. Most vehicle protection plans offer powertrain coverage at a minimum, but you can cover the majority of your car’s components with a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty if you’re willing to spend more on coverage.

  • Powertrain warranty: Powertrain warranties cover the most critical parts of your car, namely the engine, transmission, and drivetrain.
  • Bumper-to-bumper warranty: In addition to powertrain protection, bumper-to-bumper extended coverage includes most other vehicle components, with some exclusions like trim and parts subject to normal wear and tear.

Inclusive Vs. Exclusive Warranties

Once you’ve determined what kind of coverage you want, it’s best to read the fine print to see if your plan is inclusive or exclusive. An inclusive warranty will list every component covered under the vehicle service contract’s terms, while an exclusive warranty only lists what isn’t covered. It’s smart to understand what’s covered under your plan before it comes time to file a claim.

What To Consider When Purchasing An Extended Warranty

There are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind when deciding whether to purchase an extended car warranty and when to start coverage.

  • Assess your financial situation. Third-party warranty companies offer various levels of coverage at differing price tiers. Some tend to offer better prices when you pay up front, while others provide more affordable monthly payments.
  • Take a look at your car’s reliability rating. Reliability ratings like those in the J.D. Power ​​2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study℠ can give you a sense of how often your car might experience mechanical breakdowns.
  • Research the most common repairs for your vehicle. On sites like RepairPal, car owners list common issues with their vehicles, which can be helpful in determining what kind of coverage you need.
  • Learn what coverage you already have. If your car is still under factory warranty, you may not need to purchase extended coverage yet.

Common Repair Problems

As mentioned above, evaluating the types of repairs that are most common for your vehicle can be an important factor when it comes to determining the value of an extended warranty. A vehicle protection plan can help you avoid costly repair bills, making the cost of the plan worth it for many drivers.

For instance, one of your car’s most important components is the transmission, which is the system responsible for making the vehicle move forward. RepairPal estimates that the average cost of this type of repair is between $4,890 and $5,085.

Some of the most common transmission problems include:

  • Lack of maintenance: Not keeping up with your transmission’s routine maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer can lead to severe damage.
  • Leaks: Leaking gaskets, seals, or lines can lead to the transmission overheating and burning.
  • Slipping gears: Telltale signs of your transmission slipping gears include the engine revving higher than it should or feeling like your car lacks power while driving. Regularly maintaining fluid levels can prevent a slipping transmission.
  • Not shifting at all: If your car does not shift gears at all, you may need to replace transmission bands.
  • Juddering or stuttering while driving: This could be the result of a bad torque converter that needs to be replaced.

However, nearly all extended warranties cover the powertrain. An extended warranty with powertrain coverage can help cover the high cost of fixing or replacing transmission parts that fail.

When Should I Purchase An Extended Car Warranty?

Once you’ve made the decision to purchase an extended warranty, you should consider the timing of beginning coverage. Many automakers have factory warranties that last 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. But some may have longer terms.

If your car is still under its factory warranty and you opt for the manufacturer’s extended warranty, you’ll typically have to purchase extended coverage before the factory coverage expires. This can sometimes lead to having duplicate coverage on your vehicle.

If your car’s factory warranty has already expired or is about to expire, third-party providers offer a wide range of coverage options that can be purchased at any time.

CarShield: Best Value For Vehicle Protection

If finding extended warranty coverage at the best price is one of your top priorities, CarShield can be a great choice. In our CarShield review, we recognized the extended warranty provider for having the Best Value and rated it 4.2 out of 5.0 stars.

The St. Peters, Missouri-based provider is the most popular extended warranty company on the market, offering affordable prices and lengthy coverage terms. Most plans have a monthly payment of around $99 and a deductible of $100, and they can cover vehicles up to 300,000 miles.

CarShield Warranty Plans

Used cars over three years old are generally more prone to breakdowns than relatively new vehicles. CarShield warranties can help protect you from costly repair bills, but the covered repairs differ between each plan.

CarShield Plan What It Covers
Diamond This is CarShield’s most comprehensive coverage. Comparable to a manufacturer’s warranty, this exclusionary plan covers everything except what’s listed as excluded in the contract. Exclusions include hoses, belts, and wear-and-tear items like brake pads.
Platinum The Platinum plan is CarShield’s highest level of inclusionary coverage. It covers parts of the engine, transmission, steering, electrical system, cooling system, air conditioning, brake system, and more.
Gold This plan is an enhanced powertrain warranty. Like most powertrain plans, CarShield’s Gold plan covers the engine, transmission, and drive axle. It also covers the alternator, starter, and more.
Silver This is the provider’s most affordable extended warranty. The basic powertrain plan covers the vehicle’s transmission, drive axle, and water pump.
Aluminum The Aluminum plan is designed for luxury vehicles with complex electronic systems. It covers power seat control, voice activation control, sensors, and GPS.
Motorcycle & ATV This plan offers coverage for motorcycles and ATVs.

Additional Benefits

Along with covering the cost of auto repairs, CarShield plans include the following benefits:

  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Towing
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Trip interruption reimbursement
  • Choice of any repair shop certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®)

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I extend my car warranty after it expires?

It can be smart to extend your coverage once your factory warranty expires. Purchasing an extended warranty can give you peace of mind and keep you from paying for some costly repairs out of pocket.

How much are extended warranties?

Our team’s secret shopper analysis found that the average extended warranty costs about $2,862. That number can fluctuate based on what kind of vehicle you have, how old it is, and what kind of coverage you're seeking. Most extended auto warranties tend to cost between $1,600 and $4,500 and last from about three to six years.

What does an extended car warranty cover?

An extended warranty’s coverage will vary depending on the kind of plan and level of coverage you purchase. Most will cover breakdowns related to the engine, drivetrain, and transmission. Higher tiers of protection can cover the cost of repairs and replacements for systems like the air conditioning, suspension, steering, and more.

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