How to Find the Best Extended Warranty for Your Vehicle (and Where to Start)

What should you do when the factory warranty runs out? Explore your options with a good extended warranty

driving on road with hand on steering wheel

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It’s a common vehicle owner experience: Your car’s factory warranty is about to expire and you’re left wondering if you should be replacing it or not. That all is assuming you realized your vehicle had a manufacturer’s warranty from the dealership in the first place. 

While these warranties can be useful, they don’t really kick in unless there is something wrong that’s due to a manufacturing or material defect. In other words, unless something breaks, you probably don’t have to think about the manufacturer’s warranty until it expires.

So, is extending or getting a new car warranty worth it the cost? If so, what options do you have to get more coverage? These are the questions we’re going to explore so you will know how to get the best extra coverage.

Better Extended Coverage

Don’t just rely on the factory warranty. New or used, there’s a great extended warranty with one of these providers:


Get $350 off an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living. 

Offering more comprehensive coverage on repairs and services OEM warranties list in exclusions, an Endurance warranty actually provides the type of coverage many disappointed vehicle owners assume automakers just include automatically. 

Get a free quote from Endurance today or call: 1-855-632-3655


If you’re a California resident and need coverage most other providers can’t offer, the autopom! line of mechanical breakdown insurance plans has you covered. All it takes is a short glance to see just how many options you have to find the right plan. 

Visit the autopom! website today or call for a free quote: 1-888-528-7487

Is a Car Warranty Necessary?

There are plenty of opinions on the necessity of car warranties, especially factory warranties. Many vehicle owners swear they are just scams designed to drain your wallet more than a vehicle purchase does. 

Anyone who has encountered one of the rare but costly defects a factory warranty covers, however, knows that it is possible to save a lot of money on the right conditions. The real question is whether you are likely to experience these conditions or not.

Car warranties are a bit of a gamble. You put some money down (by purchasing a warranty) betting that something may happen to your vehicle. While you don’t want something to happen to it, you will at least get some value out of the deal from the cost-saving coverage the warranty provides. 

In this way, a car warranty is a tradeoff: You spend some money ahead of time to potentially save more money later on when you are facing expensive repair costs at the local repair shop.

Car warranties aren’t required to drive a vehicle on the roads. Most new vehicles have some kind of limited manufacturer warranty auto protection, but once it runs out, you aren’t required to get a new one or to extend the old. As long as you have the minimum insurance coverage legally required to drive a vehicle, you are good to go.

That said, extended warranties do have the potential to save you money on repairs and to give you extra perks (like roadside assistance, trip-interruption protection, free towing, free oil changes, or rental car reimbursement) factory warranties and auto insurance don’t provide. So, this potential may be worth exploring your extended warranty options a bit more.

Hands “protecting” a car drawing.

Extended car warranties offer more protection and coverage than factory warranties.

What Is an Extended Car Warranty?

On paper, extended car warranties are just like any other kind of warranty. They are a guarantee of sorts: if something goes wrong with the vehicle, someone (other than yourself) will help pay for the repairs. 

In reality, however, extended auto warranties are somewhat more complicated because they apply in certain situations. The good news is they typically cover more situations than standard factory warranties.

Since a factory car warranty only covers manufacturing defects, they are fairly limited in how often they kick in. Extended warranties, however, can have a broader scope, depending on the plan. This is where the advantage of third-party warranty companies comes in.

Unlike automaker extended warranties that have limited plans, most third-party options provide many different plans for you to consider or that your vehicle may qualify for. 

Extended warranties are actually vehicle service contracts: agreements between the car owner and warranty provider for when the warranty will apply. Different plans represent different agreements on what types of vehicles can qualify, what components will be covered and when, and how long the agreement will last. 

Finding the Best Extended Car Warranty

If you are sold on the idea that an extended car warranty is the best choice for your vehicle, it’s time to start shopping. It doesn’t take much effort or time to find potential plans if you start the right way. Things can take longer, however, if you don’t know where to start or how to proceed once you have found a potential plan.

The most logical place to start is with your vehicle. Before you even begin to look at different providers and plans, think about what your vehicle needs. How old is it? Does it have a history of needing repairs or is it fairly reliable? 

These questions will help you define the scope of the coverage you may need. If it’s getting up there in age or has a habit of breaking down, you may need more comprehensive coverage.

Beyond the vehicle, the next step is to consider different providers. Some providers are better, more reputable, and more reliable than others. A provider’s reputation with other customers, for example, will give you an idea of what others think or experience with the service. The provider’s broker vs. admin status may also help. 

If the provider acts as its own administrator, this means it sells its own plans instead of selling another company’s coverages. This can be a benefit to you, since there is one source to go to when questions or problems arise.

The other important component to check out with providers is the range of plans they offer. How many plans does the provider actually offer? Are there plans that will fit your vehicle’s needs? When looking at different extended warranty options, be sure to consider the following:

  • Inclusions: These are the components actually covered by the warranty. Most plans have a certain list of included components they or the local repair facility will cover, giving you an easy way to compare different plans. Basically, if a plan doesn’t cover something you think you will need in the future (particularly powertrain components) in case of unexpected mechanical breakdowns due to wear and tear, it’s best to look elsewhere. 
  • Exclusions: Some plans offer exclusion lists of components the plan won’t cover. More comprehensive plans make things simple by leaving a few components out so you know what to expect. In general, the shorter this list is, the better. 
  • Cost: All warranty plans cost something. Basic plans that have short inclusion lists will typically cost less. Comprehensive plans with short exclusion lists can be anywhere between $250 to $750 a year. Some even present different payment plans (like monthly payments) instead of yearly charges. Keeping a budget in mind can help you pick between different plans based on price alone.
  • Limitations: Eligibility limitations are important to consider to see if you can have a specific plan for your vehicle. Older vehicles tend to be more limited in eligibility because they are more prone to automotive issues and needed repairs. Still, many providers offer used or high-mileage vehicle plans to address this challenge. 
  • Coverage Period: Pay attention to how long an extended warranty service will last. Coverage periods are defined in years and mileage. A typical period, for example, may be for three years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first for the car. Longer coverage periods are better but rarer. This information should be in the fine print of the vehicle protection plan.

Companies We Like

Here at TheDrive, we get to work with a lot of different providers and research even more. Since we’re car enthusiasts, we like to know our precious rides have the best extended warranties possibilities. If you are looking for some good options to consider, here are some of our favorites.

  • Endurance: As a direct provider of most of its extended warranty plans, we’re partial to Endurance because of the excellent coverage and customer care you can get. Avoiding the broker/administrator relationship that can complicate matters when you need to get repair work done quickly, Endurance offers several plans to fit your needs and your budget.
  • CarShield: Carshield offers something most other providers don’t, tons and tons of choices. By far one of the largest providers, CarShield is a good place to start if you don’t know what options you have for a third-party car warranty. The customer service is also a good resource to get questions answered quickly. 
  • CarChex: This third-party provider offers something for just about everything with four wheels and an engine. One thing that makes CarChex stand out is the competitive, flexible price rates you can get with one of its plans.

Picking the Best Warranty

There can be a lot of pressure when searching for an extended car warranty. If you feel a sense of urgency, it’s helpful to start before the factory warranty expires. If this isn’t possible or you are searching for an extended warranty for a used car, don’t despair. The process of finding a good car warranty isn’t difficult. 

The first thing you must do, however, is forget the notion that there is a best extended car warranty out there. There is no single best extended car warranty available to all vehicles that will give you a good peace of mind. Ultimately, the right choice comes down to your specific needs, budget, and vehicle. 

As long as you consider all of these things ahead of time, do your research on different providers, and take the time to think about the different coverage options available to you, it’s more than possible to find the right provider and plan.

Get More Protection

It doesn’t take much to get good coverage for your vehicle. Check out these great extended warranty providers:


Get $350 off an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

You don’t have to rely on the automaker to give you vehicle coverage that actually saves you money. In fact, most factory extended warranties fall short of customer expectations.

A plan with Endurance, on the other hand, is much more comprehensive. As the top warranty provider, according to Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living, Endurance can cover things far beyond factory defects and flaws. So, if you want real coverage, it’s time to check out Endurance.

Get a free quote from Endurance today or call: 1-855-632-3655


In California and don’t have many third-party providers who can sell you a warranty plan? Autopom! Offers a number of mechanical breakdown insurance plans for CA residents, meaning you get coverage that’s regulated by the state. 

Visit the autopom! website today or call for a free quote: 1-888-528-7487