10 Best Car Warranties of 2018
Learn more about the country's Top Extended Car Warranties. We review and compare the Best Extended Car Warranty providers.
Car warranties are agreements that cover vehicle malfunctions and defects for a certain period of time. For new cars, warranties generally protect the owner from paying repair costs for an average of three years, or 60,000 miles driven, from the date of purchase. When the warranty expires, or when purchasing a used vehicle, drivers can opt for the security of an extended warranty from an independent provider.
Car warranties are best for people unable to cover the large potential costs associated with a sudden repair, which can amount to thousands of dollars. Without a warranty, and depending on the severity of the breakdown, it may sometimes be more cost-efficient to replace the car entirely. Depending on the plan, warranties are also useful as they provide services like roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement.
When selecting a car warranty, consider the vehicle's specific coverage needs. There are three main types of coverage: powertrain, inclusionary, and exclusionary. Powertrain warranties only cover the main generative components, and are the least comprehensive. Inclusionary warranties provide a list of specifically covered components. Exclusionary warranties are the most comprehensive, and therefore will usually only list what is not covered rather than what is.
Finally, before committing to a car warranty agreement, look at the fine print, and make sure you understand all the terms of the contract. Some good questions to ask include: How long is the initial enrollment waiting period? Which documents are needed to file a claim? Are repairs covered by the warranty company, or are they reimbursed later? Will deductibles be charged?
Top 9 Companies
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- 350,000 certified mechanics in US and Canada
- Vehicles up to 160,000 miles
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Rental car benefits
- Waiting period
- No upfront payments
- Consistently #1 in customer satisfaction
- Wide selection of extended warranty plans
- 150,000 miles
- 10 year vehicles
- Corporate credit card payments
- 30 day money back guarantee
- 24-hour roadside assistance
- Available nationwide through any ASE Certified Facility
- 30 day money back guarantee
- No claim limits
- No reimbursement
- Wide selection of car warranty plans
- Zero interest payment
- Free online quote
- Licensed California Agents
- Specializing in CA mechanical breakdown insurance
- Offers vehicle service contracts in most states nationwide
- Unlimited starting mileage (most brands up to 14 years old)
- 30 or 60 day money back guarantee
- Rental car assistance
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- Choose your own repair facility
- Consultative, low-pressure selling style
- A+ BBB Accredited
- 25,000 dealerships and repair facilities
- Up to 100,000 miles
- 30 to 60 days Money back guarantee
- No claim limits
- Multiple payment options
- No upfront payments
- Deductibles may apply
- Choose you own repair service
- A+, BBB Accredited Business
- Get instant quote online
- Accepted at all dealers and mechanics
- Unlimited repair claims
- Full protection for up to 60% off of dealer prices
- Accepted at all dealers and mechanics nationwide
- Free instant quote
- Cars with150,000 miles and higher
- Unlimited repair claims
- A+ BBB Accredited
- Get full protection for half off of dealer prices
- Wide network of local providers
- For vehicles up to 20 years, 175,000 miles
- Waiting period
- Breakdowns and repairs in US and Canada
- Maintenance requirements
- Commercial use coverage
- 60 day guarantee
- No long term contracts
How We Compare Car Warranties
Companies generally offer three main types of warranty plans, barring individual differences that vary according to each individual business. The first and most basic plan is commonly known as a powertrain warranty, in reference to the main components that generate power in a car, (the engine, transmission, and drive shafts). Should any of these critical parts fail, the cost for repair is covered under the warranty terms of a powertrain plan, with additional parts usually set to a total of less than 30 components, which are quite often the least likely to fail. The average vehicle contains thousands of parts, which makes the powertrain warranty the least comprehensive plan available.
The second type is called an inclusionary, or named parts, warranty. Under this plan, all of the covered parts are listed in the terms of the contract. If a part that is not listed in the contract fails, then the consumer is responsible for the cost of repairs. With these types of warranties, it’s incredibly important to read the contract closely before signing to make sure that it specifically lists all of the parts for which you need and want coverage.
The most comprehensive plan that companies offer is an exclusionary warranty, commonly and inaccurately referred to as a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty. Under this plan, there are so many parts and systems covered that it’s much easier for the contract to simply state which parts are not covered, hence the use of the term “exclusionary”. If you’re looking for the best and most complete warranty, this is the plan to choose.
Many companies also offer additional benefits, which are included in most extended warranties but must be paid for seprately for other plans, such as: roadside assistance, rental car coverage, towing, lockout benefits, and fuel delivery. When shopping around for a car warranty provider, ask which additional benefits are offered under specific plans to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
Additional benefits include Roadside Assistance, Substitute Transportation, and Trip Interruption.
Plan types include Powertrain Coverage, Named Component Coverage, and Exclusionary Coverage. The latter covers all major systems, including engine, transmission, transfer unit, drive axle assembly, air conditioner, brakes, engine cooling system, electrical components, front and rear suspension, fuel system, high tech electrical components, steering, and factory navigation system, minus specifically stated exclusions.
Powertrain coverage includes the Engine, Transmission, and Drive Axle Assembly - this basically covers all internally lubricated parts contained in the differential housing, trans-axle housing, and final drive housing.
Component coverage includes the Factory Air Conditioner, Brakes, Engine Cooling System, Electrical Components, Front & Rear Suspension, Fuel System, Steering, Extended Electrical, covers door locks, mirror electronics, convertible motor, etc.
Specialty coverage encompasses commercial/business use, hybrid/electric/natural gas vehicle components, Windshield Repair, Key Loss/Damage, Factory Navigational System, and any High Tech Electronic Components.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a warranty, also called a vehicle protection plan. Most extended car warranty providers base your premiums and deductibles on several factors, including the make and model of your vehicle, as well as its age and mileage when the service goes into effect. These also determine when it may become void. It's therefore very important to provide completely accurate information about your vehicle, since erroneous information could cancel your warranty. Vehicles outside of their original manufacturer warranty with less than 100,000 miles driven will generally have no problems obtaining an extended policy. Beyond that, it’s up to the warranty provider, and coverage can be costly.
Contract length generally depends on two factors: maximum number of years, and maximum number of miles. Once either of these numbers is reached, the warranty becomes null and void, so it's important to make sure you’re aware of the contract length and plan accordingly. Contract renewal is neither automatic nor guaranteed, and most companies have the same eligibility requirements for renewals as they do for new policies. If your vehicle no longer meets one of the requirements, you may be out of luck.
Many companies offer a full refund within the first 30 days, often referred to as the policy review period. Most companies have sample policies available on their sites, which is helpful when shopping, but no matter what anyone tells you, and despite anything you have read before, your specific guarantees will be in the policy you receive after signing up. The most common complaint from car warranty customers tend to be about claims being denied. Most of these complaints can be avoided by understanding your policy from the beginning. This is why it is so important to use the policy review period to make sure you are getting what you think you bought, make any changes necessary, and ask any questions you may have.
Companies generally determine contract length by the twin metrics of age/mileage. For instance, a common practice is to list terms as 10/100, which means that the company will offer coverage until the car reaches ten years or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Many companies provide sample contracts on their website. These are a good jumping off point to better understand what their policies offer. However, it's important to understand that your specific coverage, limits, and terms will only be outlined in your contract.
Transferability of Warranty?
Most companies transfer warranties with no trouble: the policy follows the car, not the driver or owner. However, some providers do have minimal requirements for transferral, so finding this out prior to signing any final contract is a good idea.
Claims & Repairs20%
Before submitting a claim, make sure you’re aware of the enrollment waiting period's length, a delay between when you sign the contract and when coverage actually begins. Though commonly 30 days, it can vary depending on the company. There is also usually a miles driven clause, meaning that in addition to waiting 30 days, you also have to drive a certain number of miles before coverage begins. This number is usually 1,000 miles, but some companies have a lower threshold.
When it comes to filing claims for repairs, your warranty provider may have requirements on who completes the work. Almost all companies allow you to choose your own service provider, as long as it’s a licensed repair facility, but some require that you only use providers in their network. Before you take your car to the shop, it’s always a good idea to check with your car warranty provider first. Then, take your vehicle or have it towed to an approved licensed facility, and present your warranty service agreement. Once the problem has been diagnosed, the repair facility will call the claims administrator and receive repair authorization from your warranty provider.
Most companies pay the repair facility directly for approved claims, so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket and wait to be reimbursed. Never pay for your repairs and assume your warranty provider will reimburse you later, unless you have this guaranteed in writing. Many consumers have made this mistake and found out after the fact that the repairs or parts were not covered, or that the company will only reimburse a portion of the total cost.
Car warranties often have deductibles, or an amount you pay out of pocket before coverage begin, which you pay directly to the mechanic or repair shop. If there are any necessary repairs not covered by your warranty, you will be responsible for paying those expenses out-of-pocket. It’s important to know whether your deductible is per-visit or per-repair. With a per-visit deductible, each visit to the shop carries a fixed amount cost; with a per-repair deductible, you’ll be charged a separate fee that applies to each serviced part. This can have a major difference on the amount you pay, and other restrictions may also apply, so be sure to read the terms of the contract closely.
This is the fee paid by the customer to get service. This is different from the premiums.
The waiting period is the time the customer must wait after enrolling before he/she can submit a claim, generally thirty days, although some companies also include a miles driven clause of 1,000 miles.
Repair Facility Selection
Most extended car warranty companies allow their customers to use the repair facility of their choice, but make sure this applies to your policy before having any repairs done.
A company's reputation is important, as it gives you a fairly good measure of their commitment to their customers, financial stability, and how they compare to their competitors. Some factors that can indicate your insurance company is a good choice include completing the VPA Certification-Audit Program and receiving a good rating, positive customer reviews and accreditation with the Better Business Bureau, and finally, good customer feedback on independent customer-based review websites such a TrustPilot.
Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most out of reading reviews:
- Statistical Significance: The number of customer reviews impacts a company's overall rating, and can help you determine how accurately the score reflects customer satisfaction. Reviews with a considerable amount of customer feedback and ratings are a better indicator of the overall customer experience than reviews with only a few contributors. If the company has a few reviews, the overall score may not be the best indicator of the company's quality, so we suggest taking the time to read through the reviews to benefit from the feedback provided by those who were willing to share.
- Word Sentiment: While looking at overall scores can be a fast way to get an impression of a company's quality, it can also be deceiving. Everyone has a different method of scoring: for some a 3/5 score is considered good, while others would rate a good company with a 5/5. This is way taking a few moments to scan over the words used in the reviews to get a better understanding of the review scores being presented. If you notice a lot of positive language like "great customer service" or "pleased with purchase", it may be easier to overlook a low overall score (especially if there are limited number of reviews available). However, if you see wording like "horrible service", "long waits" or "rude representatives", this may be a great opportunity to check out another company and compare notes.
- Customer Care: When a company has the chance to respond to customer reviews, do they? Whether the review is positive or negative, companies who take the time to respond to individual reviews are often the ones that emphasize and prioritize customer service. Also ask yourself whether the company's responses are polite and make an honest attempt to resolve problems, within reason. If there isn't a place for companies to respond, do any of the reviews talk about how the company addresses customer concerns?
- Learn from other people’s mistakes: When you find negative comments about a company, think about how the problem could have been avoided. For instance, if the problem was because someone didn’t understand what was covered under their contract, take the time to read yours carefully. If the problem was clearly the fault of the warranty provider, and they did little to resolve the issue repeatedly, then be aware that you could find yourself in the same position if you become a customer.
Vehicle Protection Association Member?
Members of the Vehicle Protection Association must complete their VPA Certification-Audit Program to receive VPA Gold-Level Certification. This means that they've undergone a third-party compliance review confirming their adherence to the VPA Standards of Conduct and other applicable laws and regulations.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is an organization that emphasizes business transparency. In conjunction with their own internal ratings, they allow users to post positive, negative, and neutral reviews. They also give accreditation to companies that meed their standards for marketplace trust.
TrustPilot is an independent customer review-based website, which allows clients to both write reviews and post scores for companies, while also weeding out fake reviews or other misuse. The site then compiles these customer scores and determines a general percentage for each company.
Backed by Insurer?
Some companies underwrite their policies themselves, whereas others are backed by an insurer. In the latter case, it may be a good idea to research the insurer as well.
Customer Questions & Answers
What is a vehicle service contract?
A vehicle service contract is the same as a car warranty. This refers to a service guarantee that covers the costs associated with the parts and labor needed for qualifying repairs or replacements. Car warranties are typically valid for a certain amount of time, as well as for pre-specified number of miles traveled.
What do extended car warranties cover?
An extended car warranties coverage depends on the plan and company selected. While some warranties only cover “breakdown” costs, others offer more comprehensive coverage. Common non-covered items, however, include custom add-ons, air bags, tires, brakes, light bulbs, and cosmetics.
How much do extended car warranties cost?
The cost of an extended car warranty is dependent on the make, model, mileage, and age of the car, as well as the owner’s driving habits. An applicant who drives 15,000 miles a year will pay much more than someone who drives 2,000. Together, all these factors determine the annual fee and deductible.
Do I need a vehicle service contract if I am still covered by the manufacturer's warranty?
You don't need a vehicle service contract if you are still covered by the manufacturer's warranty, but it will save you money in the long-term. The cost of a car warranty is directly based on the condition of the vehicle at the time of purchase. As a car gets older, the chances of parts breaking or malfunctioning increases. Therefore, the earlier a warranty is purchased, the less it will cost.
What are deductibles and how do they work when it comes to car warranties?
A deductible is an amount of money paid out of pocket before warranty coverage begins. Deductibles are either per-visit or per-repair. Per-visit deductibles are paid each time a car is brought in for repair, regardless of the extent of what is needed. A per-repair deductible is paid based on each part that requires service.
Why do car warranties have a waiting period and what's the standard length?
Car warranties have waiting periods to allow those covered to rethink their policy choices and to ensure that their car is functioning as claimed. Car warranty companies do not cover pre-existing conditions, and use the 30-day waiting period in order to make certain that the engine trouble began after the policy’s start date.
Where can I go for repairs that are covered?
While certain warranty companies allow repairs to take place at any garage, others require that their customers only use authorized service providers. In either case, it’s best to check prior to taking a car in for maintenance or repair, as the car warranty company may not cover the service if it's done at an unauthorized garage.
Are extended car warranties a scam?
Car warranties aren't generally a scam, and are provided by reputable companies. As with any service, however, it is wise to be fully educated before making a decision. The most frequent cause of car warranty consumer dissatisfaction is a lack of comprehension of coverage limits and services rendered, as defined by the contract's fine print. Car warranty providers, whether manufacturers or private entities, operate individually, so we highly recommend that potential applicants read their contracts carefully.