Finding the best extended car warranty for your pre-owned vehicle can be a challenge. Below, we compare our favorite extended warranty plans for used and higher-mileage vehicles. We also explain how to get a warranty on a used car, how extended warranties work, different coverage options and average costs.
We put together our picks by comparing more than 30 car warranty companies on ConsumerAffairs. To narrow it down, we analyzed reviews for the top-rated accredited providers, focusing primarily on customers who mentioned experiences related to used cars or pre-owned vehicles.
How to get a warranty on a used car
If your factory or dealership warranty is about to expire and you want to extend it, it’s crucial to find a trustworthy provider. Research multiple companies, don’t be afraid to ask questions and always read the fine print.
Gather your car’s information: Before you can get a quote, you must know your car’s make, model, year and mileage. You typically have to submit your name, email, phone number and ZIP code, as well. Remember, if you got your used car from a dealership, it might already be under warranty — ask your dealer if you aren’t sure.
Consider what coverage you want: Extended warranty companies usually offer different tiers or levels of coverage. On the high end, you can find comprehensive plans that cover everything except for a few named exclusions. More basic options might cover only common or the more costly repairs for your engine and transmission. If you purchase a used car with low reliability ratings, you may want to consider more comprehensive coverage.
Compare car warranty companies: Shop around, get free quotes from multiple extended warranty providers and don’t be afraid to ask questions. A trustworthy representative should want to ensure you understand all the coverage details. Next, find out if the company offers any special discounts, such as savings for students, veterans or active-duty military personnel. Look for companies that offer flexible terms and extra perks, such as 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, free oil changes and rewards programs.
Know who backs the warranty: Understand who you are buying your warranty from. Like with many other big purchases, a price that sounds too good to be true probably is. Don’t choose a fly-by-night company that can’t deliver or may go out of business soon. We suggest exercising caution if you receive a call about updating or purchasing a new policy, too. Finally, ask lots of questions and don’t complete the purchase over the phone.
Read the fine print: No matter where you get the warranty from, be sure to read the fine print. You have the right to know the details of what’s covered. Some plans cover the engine but not the lubricated parts inside the engine, for example. If you’re financing, dealerships may offer to roll the cost of the extended warranty in your car payments, but this increases the amount you pay in interest over time.
Used car warranty comparison
We analyzed recent reviews from the top providers on ConsumerAffairs to select our three favorite companies for used car warranties. Read on to learn about their protection plans, coverage and benefits for used or high-mileage vehicles.
Endurance: Select Premier plan
As of publishing, Endurance is ConsumerAffairs’ top-rated extended car warranty company. For used cars, we suggest the Select Premier plan, which covers vehicles with up to 150,000 miles. Coverage includes powertrain components, air conditioning and electrical systems. The Select Premier plan’s standard deductible is $100, according to the sample contract. Every vehicle protection plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Select Premier coverage: This plan covers lubricated internal parts of the engine, the transmission, the drive axle assembly and vital components of the electrical, cooling, air conditioning, heating and fuel systems.
Endurance benefits: All Endurance protection plans come with 24/7 roadside assistance, key fob replacement and reimbursement for up to two new tires each year, car rental fees and trip interruption coverage. Identity theft recovery and financial repair services are also available.
Payment options: You can pay for a policy in full or take advantage of Endurance’s no-fee payment plan. With this plan, costs are split up over 12 to 18 months without fees or penalties. Until you file a claim, there aren’t any additional costs once you pay for the policy. For example, if you pay off a five-year policy in the first year, you would be payment-free for the next four years.
CarShield: Platinum Coverage: CarShield partners with American Auto Shield to offer Platinum coverage for used cars with higher mileage. To find out if you qualify, submit the make, model and year of your car with your ZIP code.
Deductibles vary by covered repair, depending on your contract. If you opt into the Disappearing Deductible program, your standard deductible is waived if you have repairs done at Firestone or AAMCO.
According to the company, you don’t have to worry about your rate going up if you file multiple claims. Positive reviews indicate that CarShield representatives are helpful and professional.
Platinum plan coverage: CarShield Platinum is a comprehensive policy for high-mileage cars that covers the engine, transmission, air conditioning, electrical system, starter, water pump and fuel pump. Optional coverage includes luxury electronics and emissions packages. Contracts vary based on the program you select, your location and your car’s age, mileage and preexisting conditions.
CarShield benefits: CarShield policyholders can take advantage of available 24/7 roadside assistance, emergency tire service, towing and rental car reimbursement. CarShield reimburses you up to $75 per day for up to five consecutive days if you require a covered repair more than 100 miles from home.
Payment options: Most contracts are set up on an automatic monthly payment schedule, but CarShield also accepts annual payments. You can make payments online or over the phone, apply multiple payments to the same account and change your due date as long as you are current on your account.
Protect My Car: Select Coverage
Designed for vehicles with more than 50,000 miles, Protect My Car’s Select policy provides comprehensive coverage for used cars that can’t qualify for its Supreme policy. Policyholders pay a flat $100 deductible per repair. Select plans begin after a 30-day trial period.
You can opt into Protect My Car’s Ambassador program, which the company states helps you save up to 75% on repairs. If you sell the car, your contract is both transferable and eligible for a prorated refund.
Select plan coverage: Select plans include coverage for your engine, transmission, transfer case, drive axle and differential assembly. The contract is similar to Protect My Car’s higher tiers, but it excludes the turbochargers and navigation systems.
Protect My Car benefits: Perks include flexible payment terms, free oil changes, free tire rotations and 24/7 roadside assistance. The company also takes care of parts, labor, towing, roadside assistance and rental car fees for all covered claims.
Payment options: Protect My Car offers flexible payment terms ranging from 36 to 48 months. Students and military members get extra discounts.
What is a used car warranty?
A used car warranty is any kind of vehicle service contract that you have on a pre-owned vehicle. Generally, it is an agreement between you and the warranty provider where you pay an upfront cost and the provider covers repair costs in the future. You can get a used car warranty from a manufacturer, dealership or third party.
Original manufacturer or factory warranties usually last around four years or 40,000 miles, whichever comes first, but many automakers also offer certified pre-owned (CPO) programs. CPO warranties are available after the original warranty has expired and are valid for a specific period of time or miles.
Independent, third-party providers also offer extended warranties for used cars that provide similar coverage to factory warranties. These companies have no connection to the manufacturer or dealer, but they can cover repairs made by local mechanics.
Types of used car warranty coverage
There are different types of coverage available for used cars, including:
Bumper-to-bumper: A bumper-to-bumper warranty covers all your vehicle’s components between the front and rear bumpers, with some exceptions. This is usually shorthand for comprehensive coverage, but each warranty provider differs in exactly what they include in the plan.
Named component: A named component warranty covers a list of specific parts on your vehicle. These usually include most mechanical parts and systems, but be sure to read the named component warranty terms to know what is actually covered. If something is not explicitly stated in the contract, don’t expect this kind of warranty to cover it.
Powertrain: A powertrain warranty covers anything that provides power to the wheels of your car. Because this includes the engine and transmission, a powertrain warranty covers the most expensive and essential parts that cause the mechanical breakdown of a vehicle, but it usually doesn’t cover other nonessential components.
Wrap: Wrap warranties are the inverse of powertrain warranties — they cover the parts and systems that don’t supply power to the wheels. Wrap warranties work well alongside existing powertrain warranties to create almost comprehensive coverage.
How does a used car warranty work?
Car owners commonly purchase third-party warranties for used vehicles when their manufacturers’ warranties are already up or about to expire. You can buy an extended car warranty from your dealership, a third-party company or even the manufacturer in some cases.
When you need a repair that’s under warranty, take your car to a repair shop and file a claim with your warranty provider. If the claim is approved, the provider pays for the cost of repairs, minus the deductible. You are responsible for paying your deductible, no matter the extent and price of the overall repairs. Most warranties have deductibles of $50 to $200.
If you’re in the process of buying a pre-owned car, ask for the manufacturer’s warranty information. There is a chance the car is still covered under it. However, if it’s expired, you can also purchase a protection plan through a third party that extends coverage past what the manufacturer’s warranty offered on a new car.
What does a used car warranty cover?
Different warranties cover different parts of your vehicle, so look at the fine print of the warranty terms to see what’s covered by your chosen plan.
Some higher-tier protection plans cover the following:
Air conditioning and heating systems
Most auto warranties offer less than comprehensive coverage, however. Choose your plan based on the systems and components that are most likely to give out or require expensive repairs.
Unlike car insurance, extended warranties don’t cover damage caused by automobile accidents. They also don’t typically cover consumable parts, including brake pads and tires, or regular maintenance, such as oil changes, filter changes and tune-ups. Warranties also won't cover repairs during the waiting period. Be aware that some high-tech aftermarket additions could possibly void the terms of your vehicle service contract.
How much is a warranty on a used car?
Average car warranty pricing ranges from $350 to $700 per year. However, each contract is different.
Several factors affect warranty prices, including your vehicle’s:
Age: Older cars have higher warranty costs.
Mileage: Cars with more miles have higher warranty costs and fewer warranty options.
Type: Luxury or exotic vehicle warranties often cost more because repairs for those vehicles are more expensive.
Deductible: Car warranty plans with lower deductibles typically have higher upfront costs, but policyholders pay more out of pocket when they need repairs.
Do used cars come with a warranty?
Some used cars may come with a warranty from the manufacturer. If you’re shopping for a used car at a dealership, check the information in the window to see if a warranty is included or it’s for sale as is. Dealerships must provide you with information about the manufacturer's warranty on the car and whether it still applies.
To determine if you already have a warranty on your car, ask the dealership where you purchased the vehicle or check the paperwork that came with it to see if there’s a vehicle service contract (VSC) listed anywhere. You can also use a service like Carfax — run your vehicle identification number (VIN) through the site to check the warranty status. Most original factory warranties expire within five years, but some warranties last longer.
Remember that state laws regulate new and used car dealerships. For instance, some states allow dealers to sell cars “as is” without a warranty. Contact your state attorney general’s office to find out more about regulations where you live.
If the warranty on your used car has expired, you can purchase additional coverage through an extended auto warranty company. For some people, the peace of mind and protection from extraordinary out-of-pocket costs are worth it. Others would rather wait and see, hoping they can afford necessary car repairs as they come up. If you're still unsure if an extended warranty is right for you, learn more about the pros and cons.