After you purchase a pre-owned vehicle, the next step is determining the best way to protect your investment.
When you step onto a car lot to purchase a pre-owned vehicle, you often don’t think about what the future will hold in terms of potential repair costs. What’s more, used vehicles don’t always come with a factory or certified pre-owned warranty, so the responsibility to take care of major vehicle expenses could be yours from day one.
Luckily there are plenty of options out there to give drivers some peace of mind. Extended warranty companies for used cars will handle repairs when you experience mechanical breakdowns or parts malfunctions covered by your contract. As you might expect, some providers are better than others, so we’ve put together everything you need to find the best used car warranty for you.
In this article:
- What Is An Extended Warranty?
- What Is An Extended Warranty Not?
- Why Do I Need An Extended Warranty For My Used Car?
- How To Compare Contracts
- Purchasing A Used Car Extended Warranty
- Third-Party Extended Warranties
- The Best Extended Warranty Companies For Used Cars
What Is An Extended Warranty?
Most of us know that our new and certified pre-owned vehicle purchases come with a manufacturer’s warranty. But what happens when this warranty expires?
Extended warranties – also called vehicle service contracts – safeguard you against unforeseen repairs in the event of a mechanical breakdown or malfunction. When you purchase this type of coverage, you know that you will be protected after the original manufacturer’s warranty expires.
Most companies offer vehicle service contracts in a variety of coverage options so you can select a plan that best fits your needs. Some plans only cover the most critical parts of your vehicle, where others cover nearly every component of the vehicle. Additionally, some extended warranty companies for used cars include additional perks like roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption coverage.
What Is An Extended Warranty Not?
It’s important to keep in mind that although an extended warranty for used cars helps with repair costs, it is not the same as regular automotive insurance. This means that your warranty does not cover any damage or loss caused by theft, accident, or reckless driving. Warranties also don’t cover medical expenses or legal responsibilities associated with an auto accident.
Vehicle service contracts aren’t maintenance plans, either. They typically don’t cover regular tune-ups or parts like tires and windshield wipers that eventually give out from wear and tear. It’s important to remember that following a regular maintenance schedule is important for a vehicle’s life, but even the best maintained cars sometimes experience mechanical problems that a used car extended warranty will cover. That’s why it’s important to find the best used car warranty possible.
Why Do I Need An Extended Warranty For My Used Car?
While new vehicle sales continue to decline, used car sales are actually up. Pre-owned vehicles provide great bargains for someone who needs a reliable car but doesn’t necessarily care about that new car smell. After all, vehicles today are lasting longer than ever before, so the used car market is full of great options. Buying a used car can sometimes feel like a gamble, though. Although companies like CARFAX provide amazing background information, you never really know how previous owners treated the vehicle. Luckily, when you buy an extended warranty on a used car, you get that mechanical breakdown coverage you might need.
Your vehicle is more likely to encounter malfunctions or part failures as it ages. Time in the repair shop can add up and really pull at your wallet, especially if you plan to keep the car until it reaches the end of its life. If you see yourself driving the vehicle for more than a few years, this is another great reason to purchase a vehicle service contract.
Here are a few more reasons we recommend investing in a used car extended warranty:
- Peace of Mind: Extended warranty companies for used cars can provide owners with a sense of stability. Not only do they cover repairs when you experience problems with your vehicle, but they often provide added benefits like roadside assistance and rental car coverage.
- Extensive Knowledge: Your warranty company will generally have any repair shop you use send in an estimate before beginning the work on your vehicle. This puts a second set of eyes on the listed problems and associated costs. If a mechanic is trying to rip you off, the warranty provider will likely ask for the estimate to be redone or recommend another repair shop for you.
- Increased Resale Value: Most extended warranty companies for used cars allow owners to transfer vehicle service contracts when they sell the car to another person. As your car ages, any perks that add value to the vehicle can help you maximize what you get back out of it – even if that value is simply increased curb appeal.
How To Compare Contracts
Choosing between extended warranty companies for used cars can feel overwhelming at first. How can you tell which is the best used car warranty for you? Well, if you stop and evaluate the following factors, you can easily make a decision.
- Level of Coverage: Research exactly what each plan covers so there are no surprises when it comes time to repair your car. If possible, read a sample vehicle service contract.
- Company Reputation: Always do your homework on each of the companies you are considering. Look into customer service ratings, reviews from other car owners, and any awards or endorsements the company holds.
- Additional Benefits: Compare the perks each provider offers with its vehicle service contracts before committing to one. In the event that your car ends up in the repair shop, knowing if your policy includes towing coverage or rental car reimbursement could come in handy.
- Lowest Price: Consider getting a free quote from each of the warranty companies you’re considering. Note who offers the lowest price, but also stack the coverage options up against each other to make sure that the plan you choose has the coverage you need.
Purchasing A Used Car Extended Warranty
There are many extended warranty companies for used cars out there. But they fall into two primary types of companies: original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and third-party.
OEM Extended Warranties
An OEM-backed extended warranty for used cars will typically provided similar coverage to the original manufacturer’s warranty. Some brands, like GM and Mercedes, actually extend the terms of their manufacturer's warranty, while other companies provide car owners with the ability to elect powertrain or bumper-to-bumper coverage for longer terms. These vehicle service contracts sometimes include added perks like roadside assistance and towing coverage, but typically include lengthy lists of exclusions.
Furthermore, OEM warranties almost always require that you perform all repairs and part replacements at a dealership repair facility with name brand parts. This may mean higher costs and, in some cases, long wait times for repairs. Like third-party warranties, some OEM vehicle service contracts include deductibles.
Overall, OEM coverage can often feel limiting to car owners.
Third-Party Extended Warranties
Your other choice for protection is third-party extended warranty companies for used cars. Like the OEM options, these plans offer coverage for mechanical issues after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. Although vehicle service contracts vary between third-party providers, most include coverage for upwards of 10 years.
OEM and third-party plans may look similar on paper, but many third-party vehicle service contracts offer owners more flexibility. Providers typically allow car owners to choose their own repair shop when their vehicle requires service or parts replacements. They also don’t require brand name parts, allowing the repair facility to use the most cost-effective options. Additionally, most providers offer benefits like 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption coverage as a standard part of the contract.
The Cost Of Used Car Warranty Protection
Although prices will vary between companies and specific vehicle service contracts, the average used car extended warranty runs between $1,000 and $1,500. Many providers will allow you to set up payment plans, which can help you make that sum more easily digestible.
Also, keep in mind that average repair costs for most vehicles start around $500. If your car ends up needing a few repairs during its lifetime, you may quickly realize how much your extended warranty is worth.
The Best Extended Warranty Companies For Used Cars
As we mentioned, it’s important that you consider cost, level of coverage, extra benefits, and unbiased customer reviews when comparing extended warranty providers to get the best used car warranty. We recently completed an analysis of the most popular third-party extended warranty companies, and these are the providers we recommend for used cars.
Our overall favorite pick, CARCHEX, has provided vehicle service contracts for new and used cars since 1999. CARCHEX maintains an A+ rating and holds accreditation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and it has endorsements from industry leaders like CARFAX, Kelley Blue Book, and Edmunds.com. The company maintains a five-star rating on TopConsumerReviews.com and a four-star rating with Trustpilot.
No. 1 overall, beating the competition in company reputation, coverage options, and customer service.
CARCHEX has five extended warranty plans, each of which can be customized to fit your needs. The plans include 24/7 emergency roadside assistance, gas delivery, trip interruption services, and lockout services. CARCHEX also allows its customers to choose their own repair shop from more than 30,000 licensed facilities nationwide, and it pays repair costs directly to the facility, so you will never be expected to cover repairs out of pocket.
Unlike most extended warranty companies for used cars, Endurance is a direct administrator of vehicle service contracts rather than a broker, meaning that you’ll never deal with a middleman when you choose Endurance. The provider is backed by an AM Best A-rated insurance company.
Best Direct Provider
The best option for a direct provider, meaning you work with their team throughout every step of the process.
Endurance’s coverage options vary based on the specific age and mileage of your used car. Month-to-month contract terms are available, and you gain access to 24/7 roadside assistance, key fob replacement, and other perks if you sign up for the Endurance Elite Membership.
Since opening in 2010, autopom! has become a favorite among vehicle owners seeking automotive peace of mind. The company maintains an A+ rating and holds accreditation with the BBB, and it has five stars with Trustpilot.
Best Quote And Claims Process
Another provider we recommend for their top-notch service, when getting a quote or submitting a claim.
Where autopom! really shines when it comes to the quick, painless quote process. When you request a free quote online, you will quickly be contacted with a recommended used car extended warranty and details concerning term length, waiting period, deductible, overall cost, and down payment requirement, as well as direct contact information for your assigned coverage consultant.
Although autopom! only offers a total of four vehicle service contracts, we found them to be the most efficient brand when it comes to quotes and claims.
CarShield is one of the most popular extended warranty companies for used cars. The company has nearly 5,000 reviews with Trustpilot and has high-profile spokespeople like Adrienne Janic of TLC’s Overhaulin’.
A great provider with a history of over one million vehicles protected and thousands of customer reviews.
CarShield offers extreme flexibility in its vehicle service contracts, including options for monthly payments and contracts that you can cancel at any time. Like CARCHEX, CarShield offers 24/7 emergency roadside assistance and towing coverage. It also pays the repair facility of your choice directly, so you never get stuck with repair costs. We think all of these factors can make the provider one of the top choices for best used car warranty.