Both are popular extended warranty providers, but which is the better choice?
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When shopping for an aftermarket extended warranty for your new or used car, you’ll undoubtedly come across these two names: CarShield and CARCHEX. They’re two of the most popular companies, and each offers its own set of aftermarket warranty products to keep your car covered above and beyond the official manufacturer’s warranty.
CarShield is no newcomer to the auto warranty market, having covered millions of vehicles since 2005. Known for affordable plans and low deductibles, the company offers vehicle service contracts for new and pre-owned vehicles, as well as motorcycles.
Likewise, CARCHEX is a third-party vehicle service contract broker based in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Started in 1999 as a vehicle inspection service company, CARCHEX has offered a variety of extended auto warranty plans since 2004 and is endorsed by a number of industry heavyweights, such as CARFAX, Kelley Blue Book, and Edmunds.com.
Below, we compare each company’s coverage, cost, claims process, and customer service.
CarShield offers six coverage plans, which include two specialty plans for high-tech vehicle components and motorcycle components. Protection ranges from basic coverage to coverage that more closely resembles a factory warranty.
Take a glance at this overview of each coverage tier:
- New Car Diamond: CarShield offers total new car coverage that protects all major components of the car. This bumper-to-bumper warranty is the highest level of coverage, meaning it's likely the most expensive option.
- Platinum: This plan is best for high-mileage cars that are likely to need more repairs. Coverage is comprehensive and includes all components from lower-level plans, as well as steering, suspension, braking, electrical, and radiator.
- Gold: This level of coverage is considered powertrain plus, which means it covers slightly more than the most basic vehicle systems. Additional coverage includes the fuel pump and fuel delivery system, air conditioning, starter system, alternator, and power windows.
- Silver: This powertrain warranty is CarShield’s most affordable plan. It covers the components of the engine, transmission, drive axle, transfer case, and water pump.
- High Tech: This specialty plan only covers components related to the car’s technology, such as the factory audio, alternator, power window controls, and other electrical components.
- Specialty: This plan is meant for specialty vehicles, such as motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles or ATVs.
Most CarShield coverage plans also include 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption coverage.
CarShield warranty coverage is extensive and unique in that it offers vehicle service contracts for specialty vehicles, which are expected to increase in market share (compared with standard passenger vehicles) through 2024. For the growing number of motorcycle and ATV owners, an extended warranty may be necessary.
Though CarShield offers extensive coverage and several plans, the terms aren't clearly stated on the website or in the sample contracts. Not having the years or mileage options readily available makes it harder to quickly shop and compare plans.
How Much Does CarShield Cost?
CarShield is marketed as an affordable extended warranty broker, but the price of your vehicle service contract will still depend on a number of factors, including the age and model of your vehicle, your driving habits, and your deductible.
When you have your vehicle repaired, your CarShield plan provider will pay the repair facility directly. Your repair will either be 100-percent free, or you will have to pay a small deductible, usually up to $100.
CarShield doesn’t provide price estimates directly on its website, but customers have reported estimates between $125 to $225 per month for various car models. There may also be an activation fee of a few hundred dollars.
The best way to find out how much a CarShield extended warranty will cost is to visit its website or call 800-563-2761 and get an estimate. A representative will ask about your vehicle, such as its year, make, model, and mileage, then provide a free quote and plan recommendation.
CarShield Claims Process
CarShield is similar to most competitors in that claims are paid directly to the repair facility, so customers do not have to pay out of pocket (with the exception of a small deductible). When it’s time for a repair, you ask your mechanic to call your claims representative by telephone. The representative will speak to the repair facility about approvals, costs, and payment.
Who Fulfills The Contract?
CarShield primarily uses administrator American Auto Shield. While this is a reputable company capable of fulfilling the contract, many customers have complained that their claims were not approved. If you’re considering a CarShield warranty, read your contract carefully to see what’s excluded from coverage.
Repair Facility Options
One of the advantages of choosing a third-party extended warranty provider is the flexibility to choose from a larger network of mechanics, rather than being limited to your vehicle’s dealership. CarShield is no different, but the extent of its approved network is not specified on its website.
CarShield Customer Service
Unfortunately, customer service and trust are where CarShield falls short. CarShield is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and it fluctuates between no rating and an F rating. There are over 500 customer complaints from the past 3 years.
The BBB also reports a pattern of complaints regarding misleading sales practices (e.g., misleading the customer into believing CarShield provides the manufacturer or dealer warranty), rude customer service, failure to cover a needed repair, and difficulty canceling the contract.
CarShield Extended Warranty Protection: The Verdict
CarShield is an available option for new, used, and specialty vehicle coverage, but customer reviews indicate that CarShield may not be the most reliable extended warranty company compared to other providers. You should perform your due diligence when reading and researching CarShield coverage.
Get A Free Quote From CarShield
In our research, we found CarShield to be a leading provider in the extended warranty industry.
CARCHEX markets Extended Vehicle Protection Plans across five coverage tiers that span basic powertrain warranties to comprehensive, bumper-to-bumper warranties.
Unlike CarShield, CARCHEX coverage terms are easy to find on its website. Plans are available between five and ten years, so you have short-term and long-term coverage options.
Below is an overview of the five coverage levels:
- Titanium: This is the highest level of coverage offered by CARCHEX. It’s most similar to the factory warranty and only lists excluded items, such as tires, brake pads, wiper blades, and other wear and tear items. This premium plan is the most expensive of the five tiers.
- Platinum: Platinum coverage is the highest level of stated component coverage, meaning all covered components are explicitly stated within the contract. Coverage includes suspension, heating, cooling, and enhanced electrical components.
- Gold: This plan is best for high-mileage vehicles, and it has additional coverage for braking and steering system components.
- Silver: Silver extended warranty plans are similar to CarShield’s Gold plans. They offer slightly more coverage than the most basic warranty level, but still at an affordable price. Silver plans also include coverage for fuel delivery systems, air conditioning, and electrical components.
- Bronze: This powertrain warranty is the most affordable option available from CARCHEX, and it’s also the most basic. It covers the stated components of the engine, transmission, and drive axle.
In addition, all CARCHEX plans include 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, trip interruption reimbursements, and other peace-of-mind benefits.
In comparison to CarShield, CARCHEX offers more differentiated coverage between tiers. The Titanium plan is available for new and pre-owned vehicles, so owners of any type of vehicle can take advantage of full, bumper-to-bumper coverage. Optional coverages for high-tech electronics and windshield repairs are also available.
CARCHEX coverage is insurance-backed and even available in California, which is not standard among all extended warranty companies due to California’s strict vehicle service contract regulations. Therefore, CARCHEX is a very accessible option for vehicle protection.
CARCHEX does not offer plans specifically for motorcycles and recreational vehicles. While this may be a reason for motorcycle or ATV owners to look into CarShield, CARCHEX aims to provide the best coverage for standard vehicles.
How Much Does CARCHEX Cost?
CARCHEX offers affordable coverage with its No-Haggle, Low-Price, Everyday Guarantee™. You can find annual plans on par with average industry prices ($1,000–$1,500) or less.
Monthly payment plans allow you to pay your contract in full over 24 months. Examples of typical monthly payments are $56 for a Toyota extended warranty or $65 per month for a Nissan extended warranty.* These are low monthly payments compared to many competitors.
Once again, your CARCHEX payments will depend on the age and model of your vehicle, your driving habits, and your deductible. CARCHEX plans typically have low deductibles – starting at $0 – with $100 deductibles being more common.
Contracts also include a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee, and all plans are easy to transfer or cancel.
CARCHEX makes it easy to get a free, customized quote online. You can also find sample contracts on the CARCHEX website. These contracts are easy to read and provide typical term durations right next to the contract type.
CARCHEX Claims Process
Claims are made in the same manner as with CarShield claims. Your claims department representative will take care of fulfillment, and payments are made directly from the provider to the repair facility.
Who Fulfills The Claims?
CARCHEX plans are provided by American Auto Shield and Royal Administration Services. Both companies provide reliable vehicle service contracts, so you won’t be stuck paying for repairs on your own. As previously mentioned, CARCHEX also follows the regulations necessary to provide vehicle service contracts to California drivers.
Repair Facility Options
As a third-party extended warranty company, CARCHEX provides more flexibility when it comes to choosing your preferred Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified mechanic. You’ll have over 30,000 local and larger chain repair facilities to choose from.
CARCHEX makes it easy to find an approved repair facility through its app, which lists approved mechanics closest to you for your convenience.
CARCHEX Customer Service
Customer service is where CARCHEX truly shines. CARCHEX is BBB accredited with an A+ rating and just 75 customer complaints over the past 3 months.
Customer reviews commonly cite transparency and thorough contract explanations as part of their positive experiences with CARCHEX. Representatives willingly answer all questions with little pressure to buy, so you get the full picture of what is and isn’t covered by a specific extended warranty plan.
CARCHEX has received numerous awards for its outstanding customer service, including:
- TopConsumerReviews.com 5-star rating for 6 consecutive years
- BestReviewsHub.com Best Choice Award for 4 consecutive years
- 2017 Top Pick by ThoroughlyReviewed
- 2017 Silver Winner in Golden Bridge Awards® for customer service for 3 consecutive years
As a CARCHEX customer, you’ll also help to support Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). CARCHEX has donated over $110,000 to the organization, which works to eliminate drunk driving and support victims of drunk driving accidents.
CARCHEX Extended Warranties: The Verdict
When it comes to shopping for comprehensive coverage that you can trust, CARCHEX offers the most reliable protection plans at some of the best prices on the market. If customer service is important to you, then CARCHEX is an excellent option for covering the cost of expensive vehicle repairs.
Get A Free Quote From CARCHEX
Having done our homework, we're fans of CARCHEX as a provider of third-party aftermarket warranties. You can get a free quote from CARCHEX by calling or visiting its website. You can also speak directly to a CARCHEX representative to find an extended car warranty tailored to your vehicle and lifestyle.
*Figure accurate as of May 2017. Average monthly coverage cost is based on the average total price of the Vehicle Protection Plan over a four year coverage period. Actual monthly payments will vary per plan’s payment policy. Individual pricing is subject to change based on the combination of make, model, year, and mileage as well as coverage level and term length.