Why Buy an Extended Car Warranty?
The top performers in our review are Endurance, the Gold Award winner; American Standard Auto Protection, the Silver Award winner; and Autopom, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing an Extended Car Warranty Service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of services.
Depending on the vehicle you buy – new or used – the manufacturer and dealer warranty will only last so long, and really, will only cover so much until it expires. An extended car warranty can cover your vehicle beyond manufacturer warranties, most of which only last between 50,000 and 100,000 miles or five to 10 years, whichever comes first.
An extended car warranty service can potentially save you thousands of dollars in the event that your car breaks down and needs repairs. A mechanic's labor alone can add up quickly. And car problems don’t wait to arise when you have the funds saved – they can pop up anytime, especially with older vehicles.
Your car insurance will likely cover a handful of things if you are in an accident or your car is damaged via theft or natural disasters, but it won’t help you in the event your vehicle needs repairs that aren’t tied to a car accident. For instance, if your transmission fails, you don’t turn to your car insurance, you turn to your manufacturer warranty. But if it’s expired, or doesn’t cover the transmission, you’re stuck with the repair costs yourself. This is where an extended car warranty, that goes beyond your vehicle’s manufacturer warranty, can come in handy.
How Does an Extended Warranty Work?
You don't have to wait for your manufacturer warranty to expire before you purchase an extended warranty plan. In fact, you can purchase it at the same you purchase your vehicle, even if the vehicle already comes with a warranty. And depending on the policy you choose, this would essentially give you double coverage up until your manufacturer warranty expires.
Extended warranty companies offer different plans for used vehicles and new vehicles. This is one reason to consider purchasing an extended warranty as soon as you purchase your vehicle – whether new or used – so you have more options in policies. If you wait too long to purchase an extended car warranty for a new car, you won’t have as many policy options to choose from because companies offer policies based on the age and condition of your car.
What is covered in an extended car warranty plan will vary from plan to plan and from company to company. Most companies offer a slew of plans – from basic to premium – so you can choose which is the best for you and your vehicle. Basic plans are less expensive but also cover less of the vehicle if you need repairs, whereas premium plans cost more but cover the vehicle in its entirety.
One very important condition to an extended car warranty is it must be purchased before your vehicle needs repairs; you can’t expect to receive coverage on pre-existing problems. Most companies even require that any claims made within a certain number of days are subject to inspection to determine if it was a pre-existing condition.
For instance, if you need to use your extended warranty service to cover a repair shortly after you purchase the policy, most companies will have a mechanic determine if the issue really came about after you bought the policy.
A Word of Warning
Just like when entering into any kind of contract, it’s important to read the extended car warranty contract in its entirety before signing and purchasing it. This will ensure that you completely understand the coverage you are getting.
It's especially important to completely read the exclusions section so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not. And watch out for that small print; it’s easy to skip over, but it likely contains some of the most important things.
Most extended car warranty companies require that you maintain your vehicle based on the manufacturer’s recommendations in order for the policy to stay in effect. If you don’t maintain your vehicle properly, the problems could be your fault so the service won't cover related issues.
Choosing the policy that’s right for you and your situation is important, but it’s also wise to go with a reputable company. As with many other services out there, some shady extended car warranty companies exist, and they may sell you spotty coverage. You want to enter into a contract with an established company that has been in the business for a long time. These companies will have a good track record and will be recommended by large, well-known companies. Learn more about extended car warranties from our articles on extended car warranty services.
Extended Warranty Services: What We Evaluated, What We Found
Finding the right extended car warranty company requires a close look at each company's offerings. Carefully consider coverage, policy services and support options before you commit to an extended car warranty contract to ensure you get the best coverage for your vehicle.
Depending on the policy you choose, the warranty length may be anywhere from three to 10 years. Most importantly, not everyone, or every car, will require the same type of coverage. This is why it’s important for companies to offer multiple policy options, from basic and minimal to comprehensive and complete coverage. Basic policy options, which cover less, are on the less expensive end while comprehensive policy options cost more.
Coverage should be available just about anywhere, and you should be able to choose the repair facility you take your car to. Before you nail down the extended car warranty that’s right for you, it’s important to make sure there is coverage in your state. Most companies offer coverage in all 50 states. The best extended car warranty services may even offer international coverage.
Other options to look for, even in the most basic extended car warranty plans, include roadside assistance, high mileage restrictions and rental car reimbursement. Roadside assistance can come in handy in the event your car breaks down on the side of the road and your auto instance doesn’t offer that coverage. Rental car reimbursement is important since rental costs can add up if your car needs an extended stay in the shop.
Top extended car warranty services should offer payment schedules that can extend up to 24 months, which makes getting a warranty more affordable because you don’t have to pay the entire cost up front. Additionally, you should be able to test-drive the warranty with a money-back guarantee. Most companies offer a 30-day risk-free timeframe.
The best companies should also offer you the option to choose your own repair location and have the claim paid directly to the facility. This ensures you get to choose a trusted mechanic you have experience with, and you won’t have to handle the transfer of the funds from the extended car warranty company to the repair facility.
Because car problems can arise at any time and aren’t limited to Monday through Friday during regular business hours, you should be able to easily contact the company for support.
The best companies offer 24/7 customer support, although many only offer support during the week for a set number of hours. Additionally, a company should offer a handful of contact options. For instance, by phone, email and live chat.
Extended Car Warranty: Our Verdict & Recommendations
An extended car warranty can help cover the pricy costs of car repairs when your manufacturer warranty is either expired or doesn’t cover a certain aspect of your car. The best extended car warranty services in our comparison are Endurance, American Standard Auto Protection and Autopom.
Endurance offers a handful of policies for new and used vehicles, and you can get extended car warranty coverage for up to seven years or 160,000 miles for a used vehicle. The company offers coverage in all 50 states and even areas of Canada, so you likely won’t have any problems finding a repair facility that will take your coverage when you need one. Endurance also offers lengthy payment schedules, a 30-day money-back guarantee and excellent 24/7 customer support.
American Standard Auto Protection offers lengthy coverage and a handful of policy options to choose from. You can get up to 160,000 miles and six years of additional coverage beyond your manufacturer warranty. American Standard Auto Protection also lets you spread out your payments over 36 months so you don’t have to pay for it up front, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. The company also offers nationwide coverage, and coverage in Canada, and its 24/7 support will give you peace of mind knowing you can always get ahold of a customer support representative.
Autopom offers five-year coverage, and you’ll have five different policies to choose from. You can get additional coverage up to 225,000 miles, which is a lot, but you will have a slightly higher-than-average repair deductible. You also won’t be able to get ahold of a customer support representative 24 hours a day. However, Autopom lets you spread your policy payment out over 24 months, includes great rental car reimbursement and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.