Whether you have a shiny new vehicle or a trusty used car, one thing’s for sure – auto repairs can be costly. However, extended warranty coverage can also be expensive. So, when choosing a coverage plan that meets your needs, you’ll need to consider your wallet. In this article, we’ll go over the typical costs of extended warranties, the best providers that offer them, and tips for finding a cheap car warranty.
Our reviews team researched the best extended car warranty companies in the country to find those with the most affordable coverage. When shopping for a cheap car warranty, it’s best to compare quotes from a few different providers.
What Is An Extended Car Warranty?
New cars purchased at a dealership usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Also known as a factory warranty, these car warranties cover nearly all of the vehicle’s components, but have low mileage limits and expire after the first few years of the car’s life. To continue your protection, you may want to consider purchasing extended coverage.
Manufacturer’s Warranties Vs. Third-Party Providers
Your manufacturer likely offers extended warranty coverage, but you typically can’t buy an extended warranty from your own automaker past a certain date – often the day your limited factory warranty expires.
We recommend independent warranty companies because they can offer much more flexibility in coverage options, prices, and mileage limits. It’s not often that you see a car manufacturer providing coverage for vehicles past 125,000 miles, but there are plenty of third-party providers that offer coverage for vehicles up to 250,000 miles and more.
Two Main Types Of Extended Car Warranties
When deciding on the kind of coverage you need for your vehicle, you’ll come across two main types of extended warranties, exclusionary and inclusionary.
Exclusionary Car Warranty
Also referred to as a bumper-to-bumper warranty, this type of protection plan covers the vast majority of components and major systems in your vehicle, such as the:
- Drive axle
- Electrical systems
- Air conditioning
Rather than a list of covered parts, these warranty contracts come with a list of exclusions, or parts that are not covered. Extended exclusionary warranties are usually the highest level of coverage a car warranty provider offers. They are also the most expensive, so you can explore other options if you want more specific protection for a better price.
Inclusionary Car Warranty
Sometimes called “stated-component warranties,” these warranties provide a list of covered components in the contract. There are usually a few tiers of inclusionary coverage to choose from. High-tier inclusionary plans often have comprehensive coverage that’s not quite as extensive as an exclusionary plan. Lower-tier inclusionary contracts tend to resemble basic powertrain warranties.
Some companies offer specialized car warranty plans that cover specific electrical components. These may be of interest if you’re a hybrid or electric car owner.
What’s Not Covered
Extended warranties generally don’t cover routine maintenance such as oil changes or tire replacements. Most warranties do not cover items that are known to wear out, malfunction, or tear after continued use, such as:
- Spark plugs
- Brake pads
- Wiper blades
However, some providers offer warranty options that do include specialized maintenance plans, so you pay upfront rather than at the time of maintenance. Another option is to purchase mechanical breakdown insurance from your car insurance company.
The best car warranty companies include a number of additional benefits with their service plans, such as:
- 24-hour roadside assistance: This helps with jump-starts, flat-tires, and more
- Towing services: Your car will be taken to the nearest authorized repair station
- Trip interruption coverage: Your meals and lodging will be reimbursed if you break down, typically 100 miles or more away from home
- Rental car reimbursement: If you need an alternate car while yours is in the shop, your warranty contract can help cover some of the costs
Top 4 Cheap Car Warranty Companies
Our research team conducted an industry-wide review of the highest-quality cheap car warranty providers. Here are our top picks for affordable options:
Endurance: Best Coverage
Founded in 2006, Endurance has spent the last 16 years becoming one of the biggest names in the extended auto warranty industry. The company offers six levels of coverage and each Endurance warranty plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Endurance lets you select any repair shop certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®), making the search for a repair facility fairly straightforward. Extended warranties from Endurance tend to range from roughly $70 to $125 per month.
Endurance is also our top pick because of its record for excellent customer service, with a relatively low volume of customer complaints. Customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) website rate the company with 3.4 stars out of 5.0. On Trustpilot, 83 percent of customer reviews are positive, giving the company an average star rating of 4.2 out of 5.0.
Keep reading: Endurance review
CARCHEX: Best For Used Cars
CARCHEX is one of the most reputable companies in the auto warranty industry. The Baltimore-based business holds an A+ rating from the BBB and consistently ranks high on lists of the top third-party warranty providers.
A big selling point is that CARCHEX warranties can last up to 10 years/250,000 miles, making the company an excellent choice for used car warranties. The company partners with top-rated administrators such as American Auto Shield and Royal Administration Services. The provider offers five levels of coverage, with monthly payments ranging from about $100 to $200.
Keep reading: CARCHEX review
Protect My Car: Best Maintenance Benefits
Protect My Car offers three levels of coverage for cars under 200,000 miles: Supreme, Select, and Driveline. The Supreme plan is most similar to bumper-to-bumper coverage, while the Driveline offers enhanced powertrain coverage. However, Protect My Car does not offer vehicle service contracts in several states, including California and Washington.
Protect My Car also offers Ambassador maintenance coverage of up to 299,999 miles for older vehicles. While these plans don’t cover 100 percent of claims, they will help reduce maintenance and car repair bills by up to 50 percent for car owners.
Some of Protect My Car’s extended warranties typically cost between an estimated $80 and $110 per month. The company also sports an A+ rating from the BBB and a 4.2 out of 5.0-average star rating on the organization’s website.
Keep reading: Protect My Car review
CarShield is the most popular extended warranty company on the market. The company’s website says CarShield has covered over two million vehicles and paid out over one billion dollars in administrative claims. CarShield is also a great choice for used vehicle warranties, as its contracts can cover vehicles for up to 300,000 miles.
Though some of CarShield’s plan options spread the cost out across 24 months, CarShield also offers month-to-month payment plans. This means you could keep your coverage for as long as it’s convenient, which could help you save money. Most CarShield vehicle warranties range from about $90 to $130 a month.
CarShield has over 11,000 reviews on Google with an average star rating of 4.2 out of 5.0. On Trustpilot, over 31,800 customers rate the company with 4.0 stars out of 5.0. Positive reviews mention the ease of CarShield’s claims process and excellent customer service.
Keep reading: CarShield review
Factors That Affect Car Warranty Costs
Most providers don’t list their prices because extended car warranty costs fluctuate due to a number of factors. These include your:
- Specific warranty plan: You’ll pay more for higher levels of coverage than more basic coverage plans, such as powertrain warranties.
- Vehicle age and mileage: Warranty coverage for old cars and high-mileage vehicles typically costs more than coverage for newer vehicles.
- Vehicle make and model: Luxury, exotic, and rare vehicles are more expensive to cover under a warranty. In some cases, providers require you to buy specialized coverage for your vehicle as repair costs can be quite a bit higher.
- Location: Risk factors and regulations vary state by state, so the cost of auto protection could be higher or lower than average depending on where you live.
The good rule of thumb is that if a car is more likely to break down or will cost more to repair, the warranty price will be higher.
How To Get A Cheap Car Warranty
When shopping for extended vehicle protection plans, there are a few things you can do to keep the cost of coverage down.
- Compare quotes from multiple providers. Most extended car warranty companies have website tools or ways to contact representatives to get free quotes. Comparing quotes from several providers can give you a sense of the coverage costs for your vehicle and help you select the most affordable coverage plan.
- Ask about discounts. Most providers offer discount opportunities with varying eligibility requirements. Even if you don’t see a discount advertised on a company’s website, it’s always a good idea to ask.
- Negotiate for a better deal. You can negotiate with your car coverage provider to get a better price. Don’t be afraid to haggle.
- Read the contract. Hidden fees or complicated deductible policies may be hidden deep in your warranty contract. Read all of the fine print to make sure you know exactly what your warranty covers – and to avoid getting caught up in any scams.
- Purchase your warranty directly from a provider. Buying your coverage plan from a reputable extended car warranty company will save you money, as dealerships often mark up prices in order to make a higher commission.
- Purchase it soon. The longer you wait to buy extended car coverage, the more costly it’s likely to be. Older cars that have higher mileages are more expensive to cover.
Cheap Car Warranty: FAQ
How We Rate Our Providers
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of extended auto warranty companies to formulate rankings of the best providers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Warranty providers with a history of strong business practices and endorsements from experts receive the highest scores in this category.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of extended warranty plans available, coverage terms, and added benefits like roadside assistance.
- Cost: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of plans and vehicles. Companies with lower prices per year of coverage receive the best scores.
- Transparency: This score takes into account contract transparency and the availability of a money-back guarantee.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and perform our own shopper analysis to get a sense of the responsiveness and helpfulness of each warranty company.