- Extended auto warranties are a way to offset repair costs and provide peace of mind.
- With so many providers and contract options, it’s hard to know what to look for when purchasing an extended warranty for a used car.
- Read our shopping tips, then see our top six used car warranty picks, including our top choice CARCHEX.
- Talk to a CARCHEX auto warranty and insurance expert to get a free quote.
Affiliate disclosure: Automoblog and its partners may be compensated when you purchase the products below.
When you buy a used car, you may not know the whole story about its current condition. Hidden defects can become a nightmare. It’s also possible the car is no longer protected under a warranty. While many states have protections against “lemons,” an extended warranty for a used car may be your only hope for keeping repair costs low.
We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of getting an extended warranty for a used car with comparisons of six popular auto warranty companies, including our recommended provider CARCHEX.
To get a free, customized quote for a CARCHEX warranty, call 866-254-0205 or visit CARCHEX online.
Finding The Best Extended Warranty For Your Used Car
There are three types of car warranties you’ll come across in your search.
The worst case scenario when buying a used car is that it doesn’t even make it through the drive home. One of the most basic forms of a car warranty is one covered by the dealership. These usually cover limited repairs, and coverage ends within a few months or years after the purchase or a certain mileage.
A manufacturer’s warranty or factory warranty comes at no additional cost with the purchase of a new car, and it covers repairs and replacements due to faulty factory materials or workmanship. Many of these warranties are transferable to a subsequent owner.
On the other hand, an extended manufacturer’s warranty or service contract offers continued coverage at an extra cost. Be aware that while coverage is usually comprehensive, these warranties tend to be more expensive than warranties from third parties.
This type of extended auto warranty can be administered by a broker or a company that directly handles repairs. A broker will help you choose a coverage plan that we normally see backed by an insurance company. In other words, the broker itself is just an intermediary.
Because independent extended car warranty companies are not highly regulated, their reliability varies. Some companies have the financial responsibility to meet claims and others do not, according to the South Carolina Bar, so you should check the Better Business Bureau for ratings and customer complaints.
Used Car Coverage Options
Before you decide on a coverage plan for your used vehicle, you should have a local repair shop do a health check. You’ll learn about any warning signs or weaknesses that could leave you stranded on the side of the road in the future. Plus, you’ll gain better insight into the level of coverage you need.
There are several types of vehicle service contracts, but most companies focus on these few:
- Powertrain/Drivetrain: This warranty covers the engine, transmission, and related components. Powertrain warranties are normally less expensive, as they don’t include electrical systems, braking systems, heating/cooling, etc. They tend to last five years or 60,000 miles on average.
- Powertrain Plus: This common type of plan includes powertrain coverage and additional components, such as air conditioning, electrical systems, and fuel delivery systems. It’s still a step below full coverage.
- Bumper to Bumper: Sometimes called exclusionary plans, you’ll get a short list of components that are not covered rather than a list of items that are covered. It’s closest to the full coverage offered by many manufacturers. Though more expensive, this protection can be the difference between a small deductible and a costly repair.
Always read the contract before making a decision so that you don’t fall victim to certain limitations. Vehicle service contracts often have the following exclusions and limitations:
- Mileage limits.
- Commercial vehicles.
- Limited choices for local repair shops.
- Items like brake pads, tires, wiper blades, etc.
- Ineligibility for owners who fail to perform regularly scheduled maintenance.
- Repairs due to normal wear and tear (covers only a mechanical breakdown) or pre-existing conditions.
What To Look For In A Warranty
If you believe buying an extended auto warranty will help you breathe a bit easier, then you should know the criteria for a good coverage plan.
What should you look for in the best used car warranties?
- Search a company’s BBB rating to gauge trustworthiness or see common customer complaints.
- Service contracts underwritten by insurance companies are more reliable, so stick to those. Insurance regulations require companies to maintain enough financial reserve to pay your claim.
- Is there a mileage limit on the contract? Some companies provide coverage for high mileage vehicles – protection your used vehicle probably requires.
- Find a service contract that pays for the repairs up front rather than reimbursing you later. Reimbursement could take months in some cases.
- Look for a service contract with low deductibles, especially if a deductible is required for each repair. Your repair should cost more than the deductible.
- Roadside assistance and related services are included in most extended warranty plans. Make sure these perks are part of your contract.
- Some extended warranty companies do not allow you to choose your own repair facility. Companies that offer more flexibility are a better option.
These are all important factors to consider during your research. Don’t allow price to be your only driving factor when buying an extended auto warranty.
What To Avoid When Buying An Extended Auto Warranty
Just as there are many features to look for in a service contract, there are also red flags to avoid. It can be costly to succumb to the pressure of buying an extended warranty right away.
Avoid these warning signs and drawbacks:
- Warranties that are non-transferable.
- Sample contracts that aren’t readily available.
- Pressure to buy coverage immediately over the phone.
- Contracts that don’t explicitly explain the claim process.
- Contracts that don’t allow cancellations or typical 30-day refunds.
- No choice of repair facility or extreme limits when away from home.
- Lack of roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, travel interruption service, or towing reimbursement.
- Deceitful coverage (e.g. something that covers the engine yet excludes most of its internally-lubricated items).
Remember: the most important thing you can do is read the entire contract.
The Top 6: Comparing Used Car Warranty Companies
Owners of older cars are twice as likely to spend more than $1,000 on maintenance and repairs, according to the NPD group. Cars are lasting longer, including used cars, and the global aftermarket industry is projected to grow to $1 trillion by 2022.
It’s no wonder there are so many extended auto warranty companies. It can be hard to navigate all of them, but we picked six well-known used car warranty companies and compared their strengths and weaknesses.
|1||CARCHEX||A+ (accredited)||5 coverage levels and 16 plans|
|2||AA Auto Protection||A- (not accredited)||5 levels and 20+ plans|
|3||autopom!||A+ (accredited)||4 coverage levels and 20+ plans|
|4||Endurance Warranty||B+ (not accredited)||4|
|5||Concord Auto Protect||A+ (not accredited)||3|
|6||Protect My Car||A (not BBB accredited)||3 plans + maintenance plan|
Years in Business: 20
BBB Rating: A+ (BBB accredited since 2009)
Number of Plans: Five levels (16 available contracts from suppliers).
Affordability: Plans are affordable, and monthly payment plans are available.
Featured Plan: The Platinum plans are best for high-mileage cars.
- Some coverage plans have terms as long as 10 years.
- Small down payments and $0 deductibles make CARCHEX an affordable option for budget-conscious car owners.
- CARCHEX has an excellent reputation, few customer complaints, and endorsements from Kelley Blue Book, the Vehicle Protection Association, The Motoring Club, Edmunds and more.
- As a broker, there are many different contracts to read to fully understand the terms among suppliers.
2. AA Auto Protection
Years in Business: 30
BBB Rating: A- (not BBB accredited)
Number of Plans: Five levels (over 20 available contracts from suppliers).
Affordability: AA Auto Protection has “Easy Pay” and a low down payment.
Featured Plan: Premium Stated Component plans are a comprehensive alternative if you don’t qualify for a Full Coverage plan.
- Backed by trusted providers, you can expect reliability.
- AA Auto is one of the cheapest options for an extended car warranty. The company boasts a low down payment, easy payment plans, no credit check, and zero fees.
- Not all cars are eligible for the Full Coverage plan.
- It’s not easy to understand the major differences between some of the levels of coverage. You may have more than a few questions about the contract.
Years in Business: 9
BBB Rating: A+ (BBB accredited)
Number of Plans: Four coverage levels with 20+ plans available.
Affordability: After your initial down payment, you have up to two years to pay the remaining balance.
Featured Plans: Exclusionary Plans are comparable to manufacturer’s warranties. Some of these options are technically mechanical breakdown insurance for customers in Idaho, Oregon, and California.
- The variety of plans makes it easy to find the right fit for your vehicle.
- Their customer service team acts as an advocate and consultant for customers.
- The Powertrain Plus tier also includes traditional powertrain coverage options.
- autopom! doesn’t cover luxury brands and limits coverage for Audi, BMW, and Mercedes vehicles.
- Other providers may be more affordable, as deductibles cost up to $500.
Years in Business: 13
BBB Rating: B+ (not BBB accredited)
Number of Plans: Four (direct supplier).
Affordability: Endurance claims to save you up to 60 percent more than brokers, but high-coverage protection plans are expensive by default.
Featured Plan: A Select Premiere plan is best for used vehicles and high-mileage vehicles.
- Their warranties are honored nationwide at a variety of repair facilities.
- Endurance pays mechanics directly, avoiding long waits for reimbursement.
- Endurance is a direct supplier, so you won’t have confusion about who takes care of the claim.
- There aren’t many plans to customize to your vehicle’s needs.
- Exclusionary coverage (full coverage) and a lack of mid-level plans makes Endurance more expensive than some other competitors.
5. Concord Auto Protect
Years in Business: 28
BBB Rating: A+ (not BBB accredited)
Number of Plans: Three.
Affordability: Prices vary across plans, but some plans offer a $0 deductible.
Featured Plan: The Premium plan is the most comprehensive, including coverage for high-tech electronics and turbo/superchargers.
- Plans are transferable.
- ASE certified master technicians are available to assist in the claims process.
- Only the highest coverage plan includes air conditioning and heating.
6. Protect My Car
Years in Business: 14
BBB Rating: A (not BBB accredited)
Number of Plans: Three plans, as well as an Ambassador maintenance plan.
Affordability: Flexible payment terms make monthly payments affordable, and deductibles are $100.
Featured Plan: The Supreme vehicle service contract is the most comprehensive, offering optional coverage for navigation systems.
- The Ambassador Maintenance Plan includes free oil changes and tire rotations, nicely complementing an extended warranty plan.
- You have to wait for repairs to be approved before they can begin. If you need a rental car while you’re waiting, Protect My Car provides only $30 a day.
Why CARCHEX Is Our No. 1 Used Car Warranty Company
After comparing plans and ratings, we think that CARCHEX is a trustworthy and reputable extended auto warranty company. Their customer service – a 99 percent BBB rating – is one of the main reasons they continue to dominate in the industry.
Not only will you save money on expensive car repairs, you’ll also receive these benefits:
- Transferable contracts.
- Diagnostic fee coverage.
- 30-day money back guarantee.
- Customer experience above all promise.
- Direct payment to repair shops (no waiting for reimbursement).
- 24/7 roadside assistance, travel interruption service, towing, and rental car reimbursement.
- Network of 30,000 mechanics and flexibility to use smaller repair shops or large chain facilities.
Get A Free Used Car Warranty Quote
With CARCHEX, you can speak to a used auto warranty and insurance expert over the phone to answer your questions and get a free quote that’s customized to your budget, driving habits, and vehicle. This used car warranty company promises a No-Haggle, Low-Price, Everyday Guarantee™, so you can expect to get the lowest price available without having to negotiate.
To contact CARHEX and get your customized quote, call 866-254-0205
or answer a few questions online.
Q&A: Used Car Warranty Companies
Q: What’s the cost of an extended warranty?
A: An extended car warranty can cost from $300 to over $1,000.
Q: Will my warranty coverage start right away?
A: Most extended warranties do not start until after 30 days or a certain number of miles (usually 3,000).
Q: How do I know if the used car I want to purchase already has a warranty?
A: When purchasing a used car from a dealership, you will typically find a Buyer’s Guide sticker on the car. This guide will tell you whether the vehicle is covered by a warranty or if it’s being sold “as is.”
Q: What is an aftermarket warranty?
A: An aftermarket warranty is from a third -party company. These warranties do not always use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. This shouldn’t have any serious effects, but it isn’t always ideal to have parts that are not specifically made for your car.
Q: Is AA Auto Protection part of AAA?
A: No. They are separate companies that offer different vehicle services.
Q: What is the difference between a certified pre-owned vehicle (CPO) and one that’s not?
A: A CPO vehicle is likely to come with a manufacturer’s warranty and a pre-inspection. You will pay a premium for these used vehicles over a non-certified used vehicle.