We have all dreaded taking our car to the repair shop before. How much will that cost? Will your warranty cover it? How about a vehicle protection plan?
Ideally, you’d have a vehicle protection plan, also called a vehicle service contract, in place before you get hit with a costly repair. In fact, most vehicle protection plans won’t cover existing problems, which is why it’s a good idea to get one sooner, before those problems develop.
Vehicle protection plans can be offered by the manufacturer or from independent, third-party providers. There are only about 30 auto manufacturers in the United States, but there are dozens and dozens of vehicle protection plan companies.
We’ve ranked the best vehicle protection plan providers on characteristics like customer service and plan options. The whole point of a vehicle protection plan is to protect your wallet from repair costs after your factory warranty has run out. Compare quotes between the best extended warranty providers to see which one can save you the most money if a breakdown occurs.
In this article:
- What Is A Vehicle Protection Plan?
- Vehicle Protection Plan Mileage Comparison
- What Are The Benefits Of A Vehicle Protection Plan?
- Is A Vehicle Protection Plan Worth It?
- Vehicle Protection Plan Requirements
- Vehicle Protection Plan Cost
- Who Offers The Best Vehicle Protection Plan?
- FAQ About Vehicle Protection Plans
What Is A Vehicle Protection Plan?
A vehicle protection plan (VPP) agreement is a service contract that covers the mechanical breakdown of specific parts in your car once your factory warranty has run out. Vehicle protection plans range from bumper-to-bumper coverage, which covers almost everything that a factory warranty covers, to a powertrain warranty that just covers the bare essentials.
Vehicle Protection Plan Mileage Comparison
Looking at maximum mileage limits, here are a few factory extended warranties compared to third-party vehicle protection plans:
|Type Of Provider||Company||Mileage Limit|
|Warranty Provider||Endurance||200,000+ miles|
|Warranty Provider||CarShield||200,000 miles|
|Warranty Provider||CARCHEX||250,000 miles|
You can see that independent warranty providers offer longer coverage windows than these factory extended warranties. Vehicle protection plans from third-party providers are also valid at more repair shops than dealer warranties. Plus, some plans let you go to your favorite dealership for repairs if you want to.
What Are The Benefits Of A Vehicle Protection Plan?
When you buy a new vehicle, it comes with a factory warranty. That’s a great thing to have, and many auto brands provide great warranties. However, good things don’t last forever, and many warranties end just before the major recommended service at 60,000 miles.
What do you do after that? That’s where the vehicle protection plan comes into the picture. Third-party plans can offer plenty of coverage for repairs while providing more freedom than a manufacturer's warranty.
Maybe you’re one of those drivers who expect their car to fail eventually and would rather not have any type of coverage on it. When it fails, you’ll just trade your car in and get a new one. But wouldn’t it be better to trade in a car that doesn’t have any major issues? If your car’s transmission needs replacing, that can knock thousands off of the trade-in or resale value.
Plus, companies like Endurance, CARCHEX, and CarShield offer plans that are fully transferable to secondary buyers. This can help you secure a better price for your vehicle.
Is A Vehicle Protection Plan Worth It?
The main thing you have to ask yourself is if the cost of the plan is worth it to you. Some auto brands are known for their reliability, while others aren’t. There’s always the chance that you wouldn’t use the plan to the full value, but at the same time, there’s the chance that it could pay for itself many times over.
It’s also hard to put a dollar value on the peace of mind that an auto protection plan can bring. Just knowing that certain systems in your car are covered for a specific time feels good. You don’t have to worry about those systems failing.
Different people are going to value that security differently. Some may choose to keep a few thousand dollars in the bank instead for a breakdown. But for other people, even the act of saving money might be difficult. In that case, a protection plan helps spread out the cost of repairs over time into a manageable monthly payment.
So, with a protection plan, you’re paying for two main things: future repairs on your car, and the security that certain repairs on your car are covered. Now, we’re not saying that having a protection plan means you don’t have to have any savings set aside for vehicle repairs. No plan covers 100 percent of your car, and all protection plans have certain requirements for repairs to be covered. But having a plan can definitely ease some of the financial stress of sudden repairs.
Vehicle Protection Plan Requirements
Vehicle protection plans are a bit like health insurance. They can be complex, carry deductibles, and require different conditions to be met before coverage is available.
Many extended coverage plans require you to wait for a certain period of time before the plan goes into effect. A common waiting period is 30 days long. By requiring a waiting period, the company makes sure that drivers aren’t taking advantage of the protection plan. That means you can’t just buy a plan right after your mechanic says that you have to do $2,000 in repairs. Well, you can buy one, but you can’t use it.
When you sign up for a plan, you’ll also disclose any issues that your car already has. These can be compared to “pre-existing conditions” on a health plan. Automotive protection plans usually exclude issues present at the time you buy the plan. That can be disappointing, but from a business perspective, it makes sense. Without this requirement, everyone would just pay $50 or $100 to start a service plan right when they need expensive repairs, and the companies would go out of business.
How To Get The Most Out Of A Protection Plan
The best thing you can do when you have a vehicle protection plan is to follow your car’s recommended maintenance schedule. In fact, this is a condition that many extended coverage plans require.
Having a vehicle protection plan isn’t an excuse to sit back and let your car deteriorate. If you don’t take good care of your car, there’s a higher chance that things can go wrong and fail. If a coverage provider finds out that you didn’t follow standard maintenance procedures, they can deny your repair claim.
Standard maintenance includes regular oil changes, tire rotations, fluid checks, and larger services at intervals like 60,000 and 90,000 miles. Most vehicle protection plans won’t cover wear items like filters and hoses, either.
Vehicle Protection Plan Cost
What you pay for a plan is directly tied to the car you drive, its mileage, and the type of coverage you want. Do you just want to cover the engine, transmission, and drivetrain? Or do you want to cover the entire vehicle?
You’ll pay more for luxury cars and cars with high-tech options. You can also affect the cost by choosing a deductible. If you go with a $0 deductible, you’ll pay more for the plan. The opposite would be true if you picked a $200 deductible. In the end, the only way to know exactly what you’ll pay is to get a quote.
Who Offers The Best Vehicle Protection Plan?
It is hard to identify one specific auto protect plan provider as the best, since the needs differ from individual to individual. Our top three recommendations are Endurance, CARCHEX, CarShield, though you might find that only one of these works for your unique situation.
All of these options offer roadside assistance and towing, affordable payment plans, and rental car reimbursement coverage. They also let you choose your own repair facility within large networks of certified shops, plus they can pay repair shops directly – not all third-party providers do that.
Endurance: Best Coverage
We named Endurance the Best Coverage provider for an extended car warranty. It's a direct provider, meaning you work with Endurance when you shop for plans and submit claims for repairs. Endurance also has a 4.2-star rating on Trustpilot with over 1,000 reviews.
Here are the plans that Endurance has available:
|Plan||What It Covers|
|Supreme||Exclusionary coverage comparable to a factory warranty|
|Superior||Covers hundreds of components stated on the contract|
|Secure Plus||Mid-level coverage option with shortest wait time|
|Select Premier||Powertrain and a few vital systems are covered|
|Secure||Basic coverage for the powertrain|
|EnduranceAdvantage™||Covers mechanical breakdowns as well as maintenance|
One nice thing about Endurance is that all plans come with one year of Endurance Elite for free. That includes key fob replacement, ID theft recovery, repair financing, tire replacement, roadside assistance, and more. Learn more in our review of Endurance.
CARCHEX: Best For Used Cars
CARCHEX has been in business for over 20 years and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with accreditation. CARCHEX has an outstanding reputation due to its customer care. The customer service agents at the company take pride in helping people find the best plan, and they take time in explaining all the points of each contract. Learn more in our full CARCHEX review.
Here are the plans you can get with CARCHEX:
|Plan||What It Covers|
|Titanium||The most comprehensive coverage plan that’s comparable to a factory warranty|
|Platinum||Highest stated-coverage plan with hundreds of covered parts|
|Gold||Coverage for all of the major systems on the vehicle|
|Silver||Powertrain plus coverage for many essential systems|
|Bronze||Basic coverage for the powertrain and engine|
Protect My Car: Best Maintenance Benefits
Protect My Car is the best provider we came across for maintenance perks. Its Ambassador program provides free oil changes and tire rotations, assistance with flat tires, as well as up to 75 percent off of covered repairs. The company has over 1,900 reviews on Trustpilot, where it has a 4.6-star rating. Here’s what you can get from Protect My Car:
|Plan||What It Covers|
|Supreme||Exclusionary coverage that is similar to a factory vehicle warranty (bumper-to-bumper plus powertrain)|
|Select||Covers many parts in different systems like air conditioning, transmission, |
the electrical system, and more
|Driveline||Basic coverage for the powertrain|
While there are definitely some extended auto warranty companies you want to avoid, we think any of these three would make a great choice. Plus, they all offer free quotes. Visit their websites or call to see what a vehicle protection plan would cost. Learn more in our Protect My Car review.
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.
Read our other articles:
- Porsche Extended Warranty Review
- Jaguar Extended Warranty Review
- BMW Extended Warranty Review
- Ram Extended Warranty Review
- Lexus Extended Warranty Review
- Lincoln Extended Warranty Review
- Toyota Extended Warranty Review
- EasyCare Warranty Review
- Aftermarket Car Warranty Review
- CornerStone United’s Extended Warranty
- Continental Warranty Review
- Wholesale Warranties Coverage Review