Your car comes with a factory warranty at the time of purchase. After this protection expires, you may be looking into an extended warranty to avoid paying for repairs out of pocket, but when exactly should you purchase vehicle protection? Can you add an extended warranty after buying the car?

An extended warranty, also called a vehicle service contract, foots the bill for specific repairs and is purchased separately from your vehicle. We know extended warranties can be confusing without the right information, so we’ll discuss when and where you should buy an extended warranty and if a contract is worth the financial investment.

We’ve researched and ranked the best extended auto warranty providers on the market, considering factors like coverage, affordability, and customer service. We recommend reaching out to a few of our top-rated providers for free quotes to kick off your research.

What Is An Extended Warranty?

An extended warranty is an agreement with your vehicle manufacturer or a third-party company that protects you against costly repairs due to defective materials or workmanship. The warranty lasts for an agreed-upon time or mileage, such as 5 years/100,000 miles.

An extended warranty protects specific components based on the amount of coverage purchased. Most providers list repair inclusions and exclusions in the fine print of your contract. Extended warranties generally do not cover routine maintenance, such as oil changes, or wear-and-tear items, like brake pads.

When Can You Buy An Extended Warranty?

Vehicle eligibility for extended warranties varies between providers. Manufacturers usually require that you purchase an extended warranty on the day the vehicle is purchased or before the factory warranty expires. Third-party contracts can be purchased for new or used vehicles at any time. Some third-party provider coverage extends up to 250,000 miles.

Here’s an overview of coverage terms from our top-rated extended warranty providers:

Extended Warranty ProviderMaximum Term Length
Endurance8 years/200,000 miles
CARCHEX10 years/250,000 miles
CarShield200,000 miles
Protect My Car125,000 miles
autopom!7 years/150,000 miles

Make sure that you aren’t opting into coverage before your manufacturer warranty expires, You don’t want to pay for coverage you already have.

Where To Get An Extended Warranty After Purchase

The pros and cons of extended car warranties depend on the provider. Below, we’ve outlined what to expect with manufacturer and independent warranties.

Manufacturer Extended Warranty

A manufacturer extended warranty is sold by a carmaker, such as Ford or Chevrolet, and can be purchased at the car dealership. For example, Ford’s new car warranty includes a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. You can purchase one of Ford’s vehicle protection plans before the factory warranty expires, which will extend coverage for up to 8 years/150,000 miles and protect additional components.

The main benefit of getting an extended warranty from a manufacturer is that the use of genuine parts is typically guaranteed, and the repairs are performed by factory-trained technicians. These contracts also offer vehicle-specific coverage.

Independent Extended Warranty

A third-party extended warranty is sold by a company unaffiliated with a car brand, such as Endurance or CarShield. Like manufacturer warranties, third-party providers offer different coverage levels ranging from basic powertrain coverage to full bumper-to-bumper coverage. However, third-party providers typically offer more levels of coverage to choose from than a manufacturer. For example, Ford has four levels of coverage, while Endurance and Carshield both have six levels.

With a third-party extended warranty, you can usually take your vehicle to any repair shop, which offers more flexibility in the event of a breakdown. Third-party extended warranties also tend to have more perks and add-ons than a manufacturer. For example, an Endurance Elite Membership offers key fob replacement, identity theft protection, and tire replacements.

Cost Of An Extended Warranty

Extended warranty pricing is highly personalized, and you’ll be asked for information about you and your vehicle when reaching out for a quote. Here are some of the factors that affect extended car warranty cost:

  • Level of coverage: Plans with extensive coverage and perks are more expensive than basic plans. A comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranty will be more expensive than a powertrain warranty.
  • Length of coverage: Longer term limits will lead to higher overall costs.
  • Location: Coverage may be more expensive in a high-traffic area.
  • Deductible: A higher deductible will likely result in a lower premium, and vice versa.
  • Vehicle age: Old, high-mileage vehicles are prone to more mechanical breakdowns, so they’re often more expensive to cover.
  • Vehicle type: Expensive cars, such as sports cars and luxury vehicles, need expensive car repairs and are likely to have high contract costs.

Your payment plan may also affect the overall cost of an extended warranty. Some providers collect monthly payments while others have you pay for the full cost of the warranty upfront.

If you’re ready to start shopping, you’ll want to make sure you are only considering reputable extended car warranty companies. For example, Toco warranty reviews report high customer satisfaction scores and coverage for most vehicle types. Toco also includes perks like roadside assistance and trip interruption coverage in its contract terms. You can get a free quote from the independent provider by visiting

Is An Extended Car Warranty Worth It For You?

To decide if an extended warranty is worth the investment, ask yourself these questions:

  • How expensive are my vehicle’s repair costs?
  • How often does my car need repairs?
  • Does the extended warranty cover the components that I want it to?
  • Do I plan on owning this car past my factory warranty’s expiration?
  • Do I have existing warranty coverage?

If your vehicle has high repair costs or is unreliable, it may be worth considering a vehicle service contract. Drivers with reliable vehicles, long-lasting factory coverage, or short ownership periods may want to skip the added coverage.

Owning a car is a large financial investment, and you want it to have proper protection. However, extended warranties are not for everyone. Some people find that peace of mind on the road is worth the cost, while others prefer to just pay for unexpected repairs as they occur. You want to make sure you aren’t putting money toward a warranty that you’ll never use.

Top Extended Car Warranty Providers For Aftermarket Coverage

Our team has reviewed the best extended auto warranty providers and found that Endurance, CARCHEX, and CarShield are some of the leading providers in the industry. These companies have each been operating for more than 15 years, offer multiple warranty plans, and are backed by positive customer reviews. They also offer benefits like roadside assistance, towing, and rental car coverage.

For more information about coverage, cost, and industry standing, read our comprehensive Endurance warranty reviewCARCHEX review, and CarShield review. We also recommend getting free quotes from these top-rated providers to ensure you find the best price.