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Extended Service Plan Guide

Extended service plans cost $350 to $700 per year and provide repair coverage beyond new vehicle and CPO limited warranties. These plans are also called extended warranties.

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By:
Brogan Woodburn
By: Brogan Woodburn Senior Writer

Brogan is a Motor1.com Senior Writer based in Central Oregon. He produces in-depth auto product guides on topics spanning from auto warranties and insurance to tips on how to sell a car.

Last Updated 01/18/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • Extended service plans can cover everything from essential powertrain systems to air conditioning systems and high-tech components.
  • Expect an average extended service plan or warranty to cost between $350 and $700 per year of coverage. However, payment terms may be shorter than a plan’s coverage terms, resulting in payments of $100 to $200 per month.
  • Compare quotes from reputable providers like Endurance and Carchex before committing to an extended service plan contract.
Endurance
4.6
Industry Standing: 4.3/5.0
Coverage: 4.9/5.0
Cost: 4.6/5.0
Transparency: 4.8/5.0
Customer Service: 4.3/5.0
Memorial Day Special – Save $400 Off Any Plan
  • Best Coverage
  • Maximum Mileage: Up to 200,000 miles
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days for full refund
  • Longest Term: 8 years of coverage
  • Coverage Options: 6 plans including maintenance option
  • Discounts: $300 same-day signup discount, $250 shopping voucher, and others
Plan coverage includes Endurance Elite perks™
Exclusionary plan One-year membership for free
Powertrain plan Tire repair and replacement
Maintenance coverage with Endurance Advantage Key fob replacement
Roadside assistance Total loss protection
Towing Collision discount
Rental car $250 rewards voucher
Trip interruption coverage Endurance Protect app

Whether you’re coming to the end of your new vehicle warranty or want to add new protection to your vehicle, an extended service plan can provide affordable coverage for a variety of vehicle parts, systems, and services. 

Emergency vehicle repairs can put a dent in anyone’s budget. According to RepairPal, one of the industry’s leading guides for vehicle repair and maintenance trends, a common repair like an AC condenser replacement can set drivers back as much as $756 or more. Extended service plans can prepare owners for costs like these and keep their vehicles on the road for longer.

In this article, we’ll help you decide whether an extended service plan is right for your coverage needs. We cover what extended service plans are, how much you can expect to pay, and what kind of coverage is available. If you want to focus your search for coverage on the best extended warranty providers in the industry, we also make some recommendations to help get you started. 


What Is An Extended Service Plan?

An extended service plan, also known as a vehicle service contract, vehicle protection plan, or extended warranty, is an optional plan that is designed to protect you from costly repairs after your manufacturer’s warranty expires. Extended warranties provide coverage for select systems and parts in the event of a mechanical breakdown. 

These plans are offered by dealerships and third-party providers. Dealerships typically require owners to purchase extended warranty coverage before the expiration of certain existing new car or certified pre-owned warranty terms. In contrast, drivers can purchase extended service plans from third-party providers at any time.


What Does An Extended Service Plan Cover?

Extended service plans come in a wide variety of coverage levels with equally varied coverage terms. These plans provide peace of mind in the face of unexpected vehicle repairs. While every extended warranty plan has some coverage exclusions, powertrain warranty plans typically have considerably less coverage than exclusionary plans, otherwise known as bumper-to-bumper warranties.

Venn diagram that shows the similarities and differences between bumper-to-bumper warranties and powertrain warranties

In fact, powertrain warranties are known as stated component coverage, and will only cover parts and repairs specifically listed in the warranty contract. In contrast, bumper-to-bumper or comprehensive coverage will cover all parts and repairs except those listed in the warranty contract.

Many car warranty companies offer multiple levels of in-house coverage. Below, we show you plans offered by Endurance, along with some systems and parts covered by each. Endurance earned our award for Best Coverage and is our top-rated extended warranty provider thanks to its coverage options, affordable rates, and excellent benefits.

Endurance WarrantySelect PremierSecureSecure PlusSuperiorSupreme
Engine
Transmission
Air conditioning
Fuel system
Brakes
Hybrid coverage
Steering
Suspension
Cooling system
Drive axle
Electrical components

In the example above, Endurance’s Secure coverage is basic powertrain coverage, while the Supreme plan is similar to bumper-to-bumper warranties.

Note how coverage changes between the plans. It’s common for providers to offer two or more tiers of coverage, with covered parts and repairs decreasing through lower tiers. Even plans that list the same covered systems, such as the Superior and Supreme coverage options above, will cover different parts and repairs within those systems. 

Plans like Select Premier coverage from Endurance are considered supplemental and are designed to enhance vehicle coverage. Owners with existing powertrain warranties can purchase these plans to ensure expensive components like the air conditioner or engine cooling system are also covered.

Most extended service plan providers also include additional perks such as roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and towing, while many let you choose which repair facility to use for repairs. Leading third-party providers such as Carchex and Endurance provide easy-to-find sample contracts on their websites for you to review.

What Extended Service Plans Don’t Cover

Because extended service plans are offered by both automakers and third parties, coverage exclusions and exceptions vary considerably. 

Most manufacturer extended warranty plans won’t cover aftermarket parts or improvements to the vehicle. In fact, these alterations may void warranty coverage on parts or systems connected to them. 

While some extended coverage plans include optional or complimentary maintenance coverages, you can anticipate that most won’t cover services like oil changes, replacement brake pads, tune-ups, or new tires. 

Finally, many manufacturer and third party extended service plans won’t cover auto repairs completed at out-of-network or unauthorized repair facilities. 


How Much Does An Extended Service Plan Cost?

The cost of an extended service plan depends on a variety of factors related to your vehicle and the type of provider with whom you choose to sign your contract. In general, you should anticipate paying a down payment and monthly installments, plus any deductibles for service.

Manufacturer Extended Warranty Costs

In December 2023, we surveyed 1,000 vehicle owners across the U.S. who had purchased an extended warranty from the automaker. We asked respondents what they paid and found:

  • 15 percent paid under $1,000
  • 30 percent paid between $1,000 and $2,000
  • 22 percent paid between $2,000 and $3,000
  • 25 percent paid above $3,000
  • The remainder weren’t sure what they paid

Third-Party Extended Warranty Costs

Our reviews team has extensively researched more than 40 independent providers, and we found that both Endurance and Carchex are excellent extended service plan providers with reasonable costs. Below, we take a look at car warranty costs from each provider.

Exclusionary Extended Service Plan Costs

Exclusionary or comprehensive extended warranty coverage handles parts and repairs for most vehicle systems. These plans are considered top-tier and usually have lower mileage limits than powertrain plans. 

Endurance and Carchex each offer competitive exclusionary plans, and our team received the following quotes from the companies:

Provider PlanVehicleTerm LengthMonthly PaymentTotal Cost
Endurance SupremeHonda CR-V5 years/100,000 miles$114 for 30 months$3,420
Endurance SupremeChevy Silverado6 years/100,000 miles$120 for 30 months$3,600
Carchex TitaniumHonda CR-V6 years/125,000 miles$182.28 for 18 months$3,281.04
Carchex TitaniumChevy Silverado6 years/125,000 miles$218 for 18 months$3,924

The quotes above show how vehicle type, term length, and payment terms can impact the total cost for a warranty plan. Note that payment terms are significantly shorter than coverage terms.

Powertrain Extended Service Plan Costs

If you’re interested in covering a high-mileage car or just need critical system coverage, a powertrain plan is an affordable solution. You can expect these plans to cover selected parts in the engine, transmission, and drivetrain. 

Endurance and Carchex each offer powertrain coverage among their warranty products. Our team was able to get the following quotes from the companies:

Provider PlanVehicleTerm LengthMonthly PaymentTotal Cost
Endurance SecureHonda CR-V5 years/54,000 miles$133.28 for 24 months$3,198.72
Carchex PowertrainHonda CR-V5 years/100,000 miles$177.28 for 18 months$3,191.04

While the total cost of each plan is similar, note the differences in payment terms and coverage term lengths. Also, Endurance and Carchex powertrain coverages may come with benefits unique to each plan. Either way, you’ll want to consider differences like these when shopping for coverage.

Factors That Affect Extended Service Plan Costs

Here is a list of some of the factors that will determine the cost of your extended service plan:

  • Vehicle age
  • Vehicle mileage
  • Buying from a dealership versus a third-party provider
  • Vehicle year, make, and model
  • Level of coverage
  • Number of high-tech components in the vehicle
  • Driving habits and routine vehicle maintenance

In March 2022, our research team surveyed 1,000 drivers who had purchased extended warranty coverage from either a dealership or an independent company. We found that extended service plans from dealerships typically cost more.

Bar graph showing the initial purchase price of an extended auto warranty from a dealership vs. a third-party provider, according to our survey.

Should You Get An Extended Service Plan?

Generally speaking, most drivers benefit from having some form of warranty coverage for their vehicles. If you’re planning on keeping your car for a long time, an extended service plan can help you stay ahead of common repair needs that occur as vehicles age. If you’re planning on selling your vehicle, extended warranties can be transferred to new owners and can add to the overall value of your vehicle. 

If you’re not sure whether an extended warranty plan makes sense for you, consider the cost of vehicle repairs below. 

Vehicle Repair Costs

In this section, we take a look at annual repair costs for Honda, Acura, Kia, and Hyundai, four vehicle brands ranked by RepairPal as the most reliable brands in the industry. 

AutomakerRepairPal Reliability ScoreRepairPal Annual Repair Cost
Honda4.0 out of 5.0$428
Acura4.0 out of 5.0$501
Kia4.0 out of 5.0$474
Hyundai4.0 out of 5.0$468
Industry Average3.0 out of 5.0$652

Even though these brands were ranked most reliable, you can still expect to encounter somewhat costly repairs as these vehicles age. However, each of these automakers is affordable compared to the industry average and luxury brands like Lincoln, which RepairPal gave a reliability score of 3.0 out of 5.0 with an estimated $879 annual repair cost.

RepairPal also ranked model reliability within each brand. RepairPal gave the Honda HR-V the highest reliability score at 5.0. RepairPal also chose the Acura TLX (4.5), the Kia Forte5 (4.5), and the Hyundai Accent (4.5) as the top reliable models from each brand. 

To help provide a clearer picture of what you might expect to pay for individual repairs on affordable, reliable vehicle models, we went further. In this table, you’ll see estimated costs for common repairs for the above vehicles. For comparison, we added a common repair need for Lincoln’s most reliable model, the Town Car (4.0).

While repairs are affordable for most of these models, notice how these individual repairs are close to the annual repair cost estimates for their respective auto brands and higher than the monthly cost for a quality extended warranty. 

As these vehicles age, the likelihood of needing repairs increases, as does the possibility of needing a critical repair. With these considerations, an extended service plan becomes an affordable way to protect against the high cost of automobile repairs.  


Tips For Buying An Extended Service Plan

When searching for a reputable extended service plan provider, we recommend that you:

  • Skim coverage options: The more coverage options the provider has available, the more likely you are to find a plan that provides the coverage your car needs.
  • Read through sample contacts: Many of the best extended service plan providers include sample contracts of their plans on their website. This will help you look at a breakdown of different plans, including what the warranty covers and excludes.
  • Check the number of years in business: The number of years a provider has been in business says a lot about the company, as many untrustworthy or scam companies haven’t been in business very long and don’t stay around long, either. Companies that are well established will also have many online reviews and comments.
  • Examine industry partnerships: Industry partnerships and endorsements can verify the trustworthiness of a company.
  • Verify that plans are insurance-backed: Many providers offer extended service plans that are backed by a financially stable insurance company, which can give you extra assurance that your covered claims will be paid out.

Extended Service Plan: Bottom Line

An extended service plan or warranty offers drivers a way to protect themselves against the increasing costs of repairs as a vehicle ages. These plans are available from auto manufacturers and third-party providers and offer coverage that ranges from basic to bumper-to-bumper. 

If you’re considering purchasing an extended service plan, we recommend starting your search with Endurance and Carchex, our top picks for extended warranty products.

Top-Rated Extended Warranty Providers

When shopping for extended warranties, the best thing to do is call around and get quotes customized to your specific vehicle. That way, you can compare each company’s prices and get a feel for customer service.

Endurance
4.6
Industry Standing: 4.3/5.0
Coverage: 4.9/5.0
Cost: 4.6/5.0
Transparency: 4.8/5.0
Customer Service: 4.3/5.0
Memorial Day Special – Save $400 Off Any Plan
  • Best Coverage
  • Maximum Mileage: Up to 200,000 miles
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days for full refund
  • Longest Term: 8 years of coverage
  • Coverage Options: 6 plans including maintenance option
  • Discounts: $300 same-day signup discount, $250 shopping voucher, and others
Plan coverage includes Endurance Elite perks™
Exclusionary plan One-year membership for free
Powertrain plan Tire repair and replacement
Maintenance coverage with Endurance Advantage Key fob replacement
Roadside assistance Total loss protection
Towing Collision discount
Rental car $250 rewards voucher
Trip interruption coverage Endurance Protect app

Endurance

Endurance, which offers direct-to-consumer extended service plans, received a 4.6 out of 5.0-star rating during our search. Endurance stands out among its competitors thanks to its wide network of repair shops certified by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®). We also like Endurance for used vehicles because it offers plans for automobiles with up to 200,000+ miles. 

Few companies offer similar high-mileage vehicle coverage or have such a strong reputation within the industry. Endurance’s plans are also affordable, with payment terms that help lower monthly costs.

Read more about Endurance reviews in our article.

Carchex

Carchex received a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 stars during our research thanks to the company’s variety of service plan options, positive industry endorsements, and A+ rating from the BBB. 

Customers can choose from five different Carchex plans with customizable terms and complimentary 24/7 emergency roadside assistance. Other benefits include trip interruption and lockout assistance. 

Read more about Carchex reviews in our article.


Extended Auto Service Plans: FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about extended service plans:

What is the average cost of an extended service plan?

An extended car warranty, or extended service plan, costs around $350-700 per year according to Endurance. Quotes we received from both Endurance and Carchex confirm this estimate, with one Endurance Supreme plan costing $600 per coverage year and one Carchex Titanium plan clocking in at $654 per coverage year.

As a note, many of these plans have payment terms that are shorter than their respective coverage terms. For example, the Carchex Titanium plan provides coverage for six years but is paid in full over a term of 18 months.

Are extended service plans worth the money?

Extended service plans are smart investments for drivers who want to protect their budgets against the cost of emergency car repairs. If you plan to keep your car for a significant portion of its life, an extended warranty will help mitigate some of the repair costs you can anticipate as the vehicle ages.

How is a warranty different from an extended service contract?

A manufacturer or factory warranty is included when you purchase a vehicle. An extended service contract, also known as an extended warranty, is an optional contract that you can purchase after your factory or manufacturer’s warranty expires.


Methodology

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.

*Data accurate at time of publication.