Driving an older car may help you avoid paying an exorbitant car payment each month, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for high costs. When you keep a car beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period and an important component breaks down, you’ll have to pay for the full cost of those repairs.
According to AAA, the average car repair bill can easily run from $500 to $600. Some repairs cost even more. Further, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 per year, yet “AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.
It’s easy to see how pricey repairs can add up. For example, a transmission can easily cost $1,800 to $3,400 to replace. Meanwhile, a fuel pump will set you back an average of $425, and the replacement of a power steering pump can cost up to $716, on average.
While you can set aside cash in a savings account to pay for upcoming car repairs, another strategy involves buying an extended auto warranty. This type of coverage can pay for repairs and component replacements when your car breaks down, and the premiums can be affordable and predictable.
Unfortunately, not all auto warranty companies are reputable, and this industry is known for its consumer complaints and lack of customer satisfaction. With that in mind, you’ll want to do some research before you invest in an extended auto warranty for your car. Investopedia compared the top warranties from more than 20 providers nationwide to come up with our ranking, and here’s what we found.
The Best Auto Warranties of 2021
- Best Overall: Protect My Car
- Best for High Mileage Vehicles: Endurance Auto Warranty
- Best for No Down Payment: Carchex
- Best for Roadside Assistance: CarShield
- Best for Rental Car Coverage: Concord Auto Protect
- Best for Added Perks: Omega Auto Care
- Best for Platinum Coverage: Liberty Bell Auto Protect
Best Overall : Protect My Car
Protect My Car is our best overall due to the flexibility of its payment plans, its money-back guarantee, and the 24/7 roadside assistance included in your coverage. The company also offers a rewards and discount program.
Choose from three levels of coverage based on your vehicle mileage
30-day money-back guarantee provided
Qualify for flexible repayment terms
Deductibles available as low as $100
100% coverage available after deductible
Rewards program available
You cannot get a free quote without speaking with an agent or giving your contact info
Basic “Driveline” coverage doesn’t include many potential repairs, including front & rear suspension
Founded in 2007, Protect My Car was acquired by a company called Crestview Partners in 2018. We chose this provider based on the fact it offers many of the best perks and coverage options available, in addition to a PMC Rewards program that includes rewards and discounts with brands you love.
Currently, Protect My Car offers three main levels of coverage consumers can choose from. You can pay for Driveline coverage, which is good for vehicles that are four to 10 years old and have more than 80,000 miles. This coverage lets you get a full five years and/or 125,000 miles of additional coverage for covered repairs.
A Select plan is also available for vehicles with more than 50,000 miles. Further, the Supreme plan is for cars with minimal mileage and is similar to a new car’s warranty. Consumers who want additional coverage because they plan to keep a newer car for the long haul might consider this type of plan.
Deductibles for Protect My Car auto warranty plans range from $100 to $200, and you get 100% coverage after that. You can also choose from flexible payment plans that last for up to 48 months, which can help make your warranty coverage more affordable over time.
Best for High Mileage Vehicles : Endurance Auto Warranty
We chose Endurance Auto Warranty as the best for high mileage vehicles since it offers a specific plan for cars with up to 150,000 miles. This coverage was built to protect components for high-mileage vehicles as well as the A/C and electrical systems.
Choose from five different auto warranty plans, including a plan for high-mileage vehicles
All plans include trip interruption coverage, which can reimburse you for some expenses if your car breaks down at least 100 miles from home
All plans include one year of Elite Endurance Membership
You can use your coverage at any licensed, authorized repair facility nationwide
Plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee
Must call or enter personal info to get a quote
Endurance Elite membership perks are only for the first year
Waiting periods apply before you can use coverage
Endurance Auto Warranty was founded in 2006 and has since grown to be one of the top providers of extended car warranties nationwide. Currently, the company has five different plans for consumers to choose from—a Secure plan that is most affordable, a Select Premier plan for high-mileage vehicles, a Superior plan with the most component coverage, a Supreme plan with exclusionary coverage, and a Secure Plus plan with the shortest waiting period available.
We chose this provider as the best for high mileage vehicles based on the fact that its Select Premier plan is geared toward drivers with up to 150,000 miles logged on their vehicles. This plan includes coverage for some internal parts of the engine, transmission, and drive axle assembly, as well as electrical, cooling, A/C, and auto heating and fuel systems.
Keep in mind that all plans from Endurance include roadside assistance, car rental coverage, and trip interruption reimbursement. You’ll also get one year of Endurance Elite Membership, which includes a personal concierge, key fob replacement, ID theft recovery, a mobile app, tire repair and replacement, and other perks.
Endurance won’t provide a quote until you provide your personal information and car details.
Best for No Down Payment : Carchex
Carchex stands out among the competition in this category since its plans come with flexible repayment terms and little down payment required.
Flexible repayment plans and little money required upfront
Accredited with the BBB
Choose from five tiered levels of coverage, depending on your needs
Carchex is an auto warranty marketplace, so you can use this provider to compare multiple plans in one place
Choose your own repair facility
Get a 30-day money-back guarantee
Many details need to get a quote
Carchex was founded in 1999, which makes it one of the longest-standing car warranty providers offering plans today. Carchex is also one of the few auto warranty providers that is accredited with the BBB, and it boasts an A+ rating to boot.
Carchex website has an instant quote function online, but it requires a lot of details. You will have to speak to a representative after to complete the process.
On the upside, Carchex is an auto warranty marketplace, meaning you get to compare plans from multiple providers in one place. All of the plans come with flexible repayment terms and little money down, which is unique among competing companies since some require you to pay for your auto warranty upfront, or at least put down a percentage of your plan for your coverage to begin. As a customer, you’ll also get the ability to choose your own repair facility, protection for car keys that are lost, damaged, or stolen, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
While warranties offered through Carchex can vary depending on where you live and the provider you decide to work with, you can use this provider to buy extended auto warranty coverage that lasts from five to 10 years.
Best for Roadside Assistance : CarShield
We chose CarShield based on its high-quality roadside assistance service, which is included in many of its contracts and available 24 hours a day. CarShield maintains that many of its customers rely on this service instead of paying for other roadside assistance memberships.
24/7 roadside assistance available in many plans
Get your car fixed at any ASE-certified repair facility of your choice
Courtesy towing of your vehicle
Many plans include rental car coverage
Flexible payment plans available
You have to speak with an agent and provide considerable information to get a free quote
Most affordable plans include limited coverage
CarShield is known for offering 24/7 roadside assistance coverage as well as protective benefits like courtesy towing and rental car coverage in many of its plans. Founded in 2005, the company says it has provided coverage for more than 1 million vehicles so far, and that it aims to help make car repairs more affordable over the long haul. Note that CarShield works with ASE-certified repair facilities, which means they meet standards set by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
CarShield currently offers various plans consumers can choose from depending on their needs. The Diamond plan includes the most comprehensive coverage for engine and transmission failure, starter problems, fuel pump breakdowns, and more. You can also purchase a Platinum plan for vehicles with higher mileage, a Gold plan that includes PowerTrain coverage and other protective benefits, Silver PowerTrain coverage with fewer covered components, and an Aluminum plan that includes specialty coverage for most electrical and computer-related problems. Interestingly, CarShield also offers extended warranty coverage plans for ATVs and motorcycles.
Major benefits of choosing CarShield include the ability to choose your own in-network mechanic, roadside assistance, flexible repayment terms, courtesy towing, and rental car coverage with some plans.
Best for Rental Car Coverage : Concord Auto Protect
Concord Auto Protect earned a spot in our ranking due to the fact that all of its plans include rental car coverage. This protection can provide you with a car to drive while your car is in the shop for repairs.
Free roadside assistance and courtesy towing
All plans come with rental car coverage
Use any ASE-certified shop for your car repairs
30-day money-back guarantee applies to all plans
Only three levels of coverage to choose from
Basic PowerTrain coverage doesn’t include many major vehicle components
You can only get a quote by speaking with an agent or entering a lot of details
Concord Auto Protect was founded in 2013, and this provider offers vehicle service plans that include an array of perks that can help you keep your car in good working order longer. Not only do you get coverage for major repairs included in the plan you choose, but you also get roadside assistance and a 30-day money-back guarantee with its plans. Also note that, unlike many other providers, Concord Auto Protect includes rental car coverage, locksmith access, and towing in every plan it offers. Concord Auto Protect also lets you get your car fixed at any ASE-certified facility, of which there are approximately 1,500 locations to choose from nationwide.
When you’re looking at available plans from this provider, you’ll notice that Concord Auto Protect offers three types of coverage to choose from—basic PowerTrain coverage, Advanced coverage, and Premium coverage. While you’ll have more components of your vehicle covered if you buy an Advanced or Premium plan, all plans from Concord Auto Protect include protection for major engine, electrical, cooling, and transmission problems, and more. All plans also come with trip interruption coverage, which can reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses if your car breaks down far from home.
On the downside, this provider is like many others in the fact that you cannot get a quote without speaking with an agent or providing your personal information.
Best for Added Perks : Omega Auto Care
Omega Auto Care earned a spot in our ranking based on the many perks you get with its plans. Benefits include trip interruption coverage good for up to $75 per day for up to three days, rental car reimbursement, road hazard coverage for your tires, roadside assistance, and more.
Qualify for additional perks with your plan such as trip interruption insurance, rental car reimbursement, road hazard coverage, roadside assistance, and more
Choose from five different tiers of coverage, depending on your needs
Coverage for high-mileage vehicles available
Use any licensed repair facility of your choice
You have to keep extensive maintenance records on your car to qualify
You cannot get a free quote online
Omega Auto Care made our ranking due to all the bells and whistles you can get with your plan. This includes trip interruption coverage good for up to $75 per day for up to three days, rental car reimbursement, road hazard coverage for your tires, roadside assistance, jump starts, flat tire assistance, lockout services, and more.
This company was founded in 2012 and currently offers five levels of service. A basic PowerTrain plan is available, but you can upgrade to a PowerTrain Plus or PowerTrain Enhanced plan that covers additional vehicle components that could easily break down. Used Stated coverage is also available for cars 10 years or older, but you can also pay for New Exclusionary coverage that provides exclusive care for cars 7 years old or less and with up to 100,000 miles at the time of the purchase.
Omega Auto Care lets you get your car fixed at any repair facility of your choice, and it pays repair facilities directly so you don’t have to pay upfront and wait to be reimbursed. However, Omega does not make it possible to get a free quote online, and you’ll have to speak at great length with an agent to find out how much their plans cost based on your vehicle, its mileage, where you live, and other factors.
Best for Platinum Coverage : Liberty Bell Auto Protect
Liberty Bell Auto Protect stands out due to its Platinum Prime coverage option. This true bumper-to-bumper warranty program comes with coverage for nearly every component of your vehicle that could possibly break down.
Plans come with a 30-day-money back guarantee
Plans come with roadside assistance, rental car coverage, trip interruption coverage, and more
Platinum Prime plans from Liberty Bell include some of the most comprehensive coverage inclusions on the market today
Warranties are only available for vehicles with 140,000 miles or less
Coverage not available in the state of California
Lower tier coverage doesn’t include major auto systems like your steering, air conditioning, or fuel system
Liberty Bell Auto Protect was founded in 2016 and offers three main coverage plans that have the potential to suit your needs. Platinum coverage from Liberty Bell includes the major components of your vehicle: engine, transmission, cooling system, axle, brake system, and more. However, you can upgrade to the Platinum Plus plan if you also want coverage for your steering system.
Liberty Bell Auto Protect really stands out in terms of its top-tier Platinum Prime coverage, which includes all the components of the lower tier plans plus air conditioning, fuel system, abs-brakes, suspension, supercharger, seals, gaskets, and a GPS navigation system if you have one.
Keep in mind that you’ll also get major benefits as a customer, including roadside assistance, rental car coverage, trip interruption coverage, and more. Optional road hazard coverage is also available if you want help fixing a flat tire or tire replacement in the event a repair cannot be made.
Unfortunately, Liberty Bell Auto Protect does not provide new plans for cars with more than 140,000 miles. You also cannot purchase this coverage if you live in California.
What Are Auto Warranties?
When you purchase a new vehicle, you typically get an initial warranty from the manufacturer. This manufacturer’s warranty will provide repair and replacement for major components of your vehicle during the coverage period, although the timeline of manufacturer’s warranties typically only lasts for up to three years or 36,000 miles.
Some consumers choose to buy an extended warranty for their car that provides similar coverage for periods after the manufacturer’s warranty period runs out. An extended auto warranty can pay for major repairs and component replacements in your vehicle for as long as the coverage is in place, minus any applicable deductible required.
What Do Auto Warranties Cover?
Extended auto warranties cover the same auto components that a manufacturer’s warranty covers. A bumper-to-bumper warranty should include all major vehicle systems, your car’s air conditioning and heating, electrical components of your car, steering, any car safety features you have, high-tech systems like GPS, and hybrid vehicle parts such as a battery.
However, not all auto warranties are bumper-to-bumper, and some of the most affordable coverage options only include your car’s PowerTrain and other features less likely to break down. Before you buy an extended auto warranty, you should compare all the options available so you know exactly which of your car’s systems and components are included.
Meanwhile, you should also consider the fact that car warranties are not meant to cover everything that could possibly go wrong. For example, auto warranties do not cover basic wear and tear, regular maintenance, exterior or interior damage, damage caused by an accident, and plenty of other issues.
What Do Extended Auto Warranties Cost?
According to Endurance Auto Warranty, the average auto warranty costs consumers $350 to $700 per year. However, the amount you’ll pay can vary depending on where you live, the car you drive, and the level of coverage you purchase.
Are Extended Car Warranties Worth It?
Extended car warranties are most valuable when you have a lot of expensive car repairs come up during your warranty period. If your car is repair-free after you pay for coverage, on the other hand, you’re less likely to feel like your extended warranty was a good value.
Then again, extended car warranties can come with added benefits that can make your plan more beneficial. For example, you may qualify for roadside assistance, towing, rental car coverage, trip interruption coverage, and other perks that can make your plan seem like a better deal.
Also keep in mind that the value of your extended warranty will vary based on how much you pay for coverage. We suggest shopping around and comparing extended auto warranties so that you know you’re getting the best price for the coverage you want. In the meantime, look for providers with a money-back guarantee so you can cancel your coverage and get your money back if you change your mind.
How We Chose the Best Auto Warranty Companies
We compared more than 20 auto warranty companies in order to find the top providers in this space. We compared them based on the inclusions in their plans, the added benefits and protective perks you can qualify for, and the number of plans they had to choose from. We gave preference to auto warranty companies that offer a money-back guarantee, as well as providers that let you get your car fixed at any certified repair facility.
Finally, we focused on auto warranty companies that are transparent in terms of what their extended warranties offer. Plans with roadside assistance and 24/7 customer service also performed well in our ranking.