The Best Extended Car Warranty

The best extended car warranty will provide a straightforward claims and repair process in the case of a breakdown as well as excellent customer service. To find our top pick, we consulted auto industry experts and compared 40 providers to see which had the strongest history of financial stability and customer satisfaction. In the end, we found two picks that outperformed the rest.

Editor's Note
  • February 2, 2018 - We've updated this page to consider new contenders and dig deeper into the terms of our top picks. Two of our top picks, Endurance and Easy Care, remain great choices, but Warranty Direct didn't stand up to closer scrutiny of its insurer.

Best Overall
Endurance
Endurance
The most transparent provider we looked at, with a wide range of coverage options.
Pros
Admirable transparency
Range of coverage
Simple repairs
Cons
Claims complaints
Financial strength is under review

Why we chose it

Admirable transparency

Endurance impressed us with their transparency. Unlike many of its competitors, the company’s website provides direct links to sample contracts for each of its four plans. Each of the contracts also clearly states on the first page who the insurer will be (Wesco Insurance). Its top competitor, EasyCare, only provides sample contracts if you send them an email request, and the identity of their insurer is buried in the terms and conditions on the second-to-last page.

Range of coverage

The exact Endurance plan you qualify for will depend on the make, model, and mileage of your car. If your car is fairly old, or has high mileage, you likely won’t qualify for the company’s top-level Supreme Coverage (a standard practice in the industry). But Endurance offers three other coverage plans with more lenient requirements, so most people will be able to find a plan that suits their needs. It is important to note that these other plans won’t cover as many parts as the Supreme plan. That said, they will still cover the most vital components of your car, such as the engine, transmission, and drive axle assembly, at a cheaper price.

Simple repairs

When it comes time to file a claim for repairs, Endurance allows you to take your vehicle to your dealership or any repair facility licensed by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a professional group that certifies automotive repair mechanics and shops. This ensures your repairs will be completed by an experienced professional, and with more than 300,000 ASE certified mechanics in the U.S. and Canada, you’ll be able to find repairs no matter where you are. Better still, every Endurance plan includes 24/7 roadside assistance and rental car benefits so you won’t be without transportation as you wait for repairs.

Points to consider

Claims complaints

Endurance does have a few flaws, though. Customers have filed complaints about difficulty getting claims accepted on sites like the Better Business Bureau. While the company has many positive reviews, most only mention exceptional customer service. We noticed complaints that Endurance was refusing to cover repairs it led customers to believe was covered. Unfortunately, experiences like these are common throughout the third-party extended warranty industry — EasyCare also suffers from the same issues. However, there are also reports of Endurance customer service representatives solving such problems. In any case, we recommend thoroughly reviewing your contract on your own and with a customer service representative to make sure you understand exactly what’s covered and what isn’t.

Financial strength is under review

Wesco Insurance is currently under review with A.M. Best. According to A.M. Best, they still have at least $2 billion in financial surplus which means they will be able to pay off claims. But the implications of a review are negative and their financial strength ratings may take a hit. In other words, when A.M. Best finishes its review, it’s likely Endurance’s score will be even lower.

Runner-up
EasyCare
EasyCare
Pros
Financial Strength Rating
Immediate and extensive coverage
Cons
Strict eligibility requirements

Why we chose it

Financial strength rating

EasyCare’s insurer, Universal Underwriters Insurance Company, has a solid A+ rating from A.M. Best. An A+ is the highest rating and represents a superior ability to meet insurance obligations. By comparison, Endurance is insured by Wesco Insurance, which currently holds an A rating (which is likely to fall lower, pending a review). EasyCare’s superior rating ensures that it can back large claims and outlive the length of your warranty. If you meet EasyCare’s strict eligibility requirements, you can rest assured that the company can back you in the long run.

Immediate and extensive coverage

While most other providers have a 30-day delay, EasyCare’s coverage starts the day after you purchase your warranty. Your car will immediately be covered, and you’ll have 30-days for a money-back guarantee. EasyCare offers four plans to choose from: PowerCare, PrimaryCare, StatedCare and TotalCare. The plans start with basic internal coverage for essentials like the engine and transmission, and works up to total bumper-to-bumper coverage. All of EasyCare’s contracts are renewable and transferable, so you’ll have the freedom to sell or keep your cars. You can also add on additional coverage like Dent Repair and KeyCare.

Points to consider

Strict eligibility requirements

If your car is older than two years or over 24,000 miles, you’re out of luck. On our call with EasyCare we learned that the company does not offer coverage for cars older than two years or over 24,000 miles. This stood in sharp contrast with Endurance, which provided a quote for a four-year-old car with 50,000 miles as well as eligibility for its most thorough plan, Supreme Coverage.

Guide to extended car warranties

How to choose an extended warranty

Know that they aren’t exactly warranties

An extended car warranty is not actually a warranty as defined by federal law. The more accurate term is “vehicle service contract.” The reason has to do with timing. A service contract can be arranged at any time and costs extra, whereas a warranty is included in the purchase price of the vehicle. The term “extended car warranty” is mostly used as a marketing gimmick — it makes the product sound like it’s an extension of the manufacturer’s coverage, when in fact it’s a vehicle service contract sold by a third party. However, it will still protect you from the cost of repair in the case of a mechanical breakdown.

So, just because you’re buying an “extended warranty” doesn’t mean you’re actually extending the coverage you got when you bought your car. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: Extended warranties can actually be tailored to fill the gaps of a manufacturer’s warranty. For example, J.D. Power found that problems with technology like Bluetooth and GPS are the top reasons for declines in vehicle dependability — features manufacturer warranties won’t cover, but extended warranties might (Endurance covers in-car technology that was installed by the manufacturer in some of its policies, but not aftermarket items). Other benefits of an extended warranty include roadside assistance and even rental car reimbursement, both of which Endurance offers.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

At most dealerships, you can negotiate the price of an extended warranty, which warranties are often marked up from wholesale so that the dealer can make a profit. In order to negotiate a different price, we recommend finding cheaper quotes online and using them as leverage to get a lower price when you visit the dealer.

Experts advise finding a good estimate of the dealer’s cost of the warranty and then offering to pay $100-200 dollars over it. This will generally result in a counteroffer that is much lower than the marked-up price. For more information, we advise looking at negotiating samples by professional negotiators.

Negotiating isn’t limited to dealers either. On a phone call with Endurance, our tester was given the option to negotiate a lower price with a manager (even after they were offered a discount for getting a first-time quote). We can’t vouch for every third-party provider, but trying for a lower price is always worth a shot.

Buy early for new cars

Most new cars already come with a warranty that lasts 3 years or up to 36,000 miles. Although it seems counterintuitive to buy coverage from an extended warranty provider while you still have the dealership’s included protection, doing so often results in lower quotes and costs. Simply put, it boils down to one rule: the older your car gets, the more expensive an extended warranty will be. So if you’re confident that you want an extended warranty for the added peace of mind, we recommend looking for a provider within the first year of ownership. The double-protection won’t add any benefits during the first 3 years of ownership, but if you plan to own your car for more than 4 to 5 years, buying early will lead to future savings.

Extended Car Warranty FAQs

Can I cancel an extended warranty?

Cancelling your extended warranty is always an option. If you find the cost is too high, or your repairs tend to call on the exclusion list, or you simply find you don’t need it — you can cancel. The money you get back after cancelling will depend on the contract, it may be a pro-rated refund, a partial refund, or a full refund if you cancel within 30 days.

Can I get an extended warranty on a used car?

Yes, you can. But it can be complicated depending on the condition of the preowned vehicle. It typically will cost more to purchase a warranty on a used car, and you could end up spending more on the warranty than any repair costs. Depending on your vehicle, you’ll have to weigh how often you’re likely to need repairs against the quoted cost of your warranty.

What about manufacturer-backed warranties?

Manufacturer-backed warranties ensure that your repairs include original parts and are in the hands of factory-trained technicians. Automotive expert and analyst Lauren Fix explained, “I prefer going with an extended warranty from the vehicle brand, because there are no third-party parts or services that put you at risk for low quality repairs. Third-party companies can also go bankrupt, taking your money and leaving you without coverage.”

So why does our review focus on third-party providers? Manufacturer-backed warranties are heavily dependent on the brand of your car and the dealership you go to. Rather than recommend a provider that will only serve a select few, we shifted our attention to finding the most trustworthy third-party provider that can serve most people.

“Reputable providers purchase insurance from heavily regulated insurance companies to guarantee the performance of all of their service contracts. If the provider was to go out of business or refuse to pay a claim unjustly, the customer would have recourse with the insurance company.”

Sugein Sanchez Product Manager at RateGenius

The Best Extended Car Warranty: Summed up

Endurance
Easycare
Warranty start date
30 days after purchase
Day of purchase
Deductible
Yes
No
No. of plan options
3
4