For many drivers, a vehicle protection plan is the key to maximum peace of mind on the road. These contracts pay to repair or replace many car parts and systems in the event of a mechanical breakdown.

Vehicle protection plans are also called extended warranties or vehicle service contracts. They can be purchased from car dealerships, manufacturers, or third-party providers. In this article, we’ll dive into what a vehicle protection plan typically covers, average costs, and our recommendations for the best extended auto warranty providers. 

If you’re interested in finding out what a vehicle protection plan would cost for your vehicle, you can get free, personalized quotes from top-rated providers below.

Best Extended Warranty Companies
AutoGuide reviewed the top car warranty companies to find the best.
Below are our top 3 picks.
Best Coverage Best Service Best Value
Endurance CARCHEX CarShield
★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★1/2
Get Quote Get Quote Get Quote
(877) 374-1840 (866) 254-0205 (800) 563-2761

To learn more about our editorial integrity policy and how we make money through affiliate partnerships, read our full disclosure here.

What Is a Vehicle Protection Plan?

A vehicle protection plan is a service contract that promises to cover repairs for certain car components in the event of a mechanical breakdown. These vehicle coverage plans are designed to ensure you won’t need to pay out of pocket for unexpected repairs after your factory warranty expires.

Vehicle protection plans go by many different names, including extended car warranties, extended service plans, and vehicle service contracts. No matter what you call it, a vehicle protection plan can provide drivers with added peace of mind on the road knowing a sudden repair won’t be a huge financial burden.

It’s important to note that, while not legally required, an extended warranty may be required by your lessor if you finance your vehicle. Also, vehicle protection plans do not take the place of car insurance. If you get into an accident, you’ll need to file a claim through your insurance provider, as a warranty will only cover damage due to mechanical breakdowns.

Bumper-to-Bumper vs. Powertrain

The most common types of vehicle protection plans are bumper-to-bumper warranties and powertrain warranties. The former covers nearly all vehicle components, while the latter only covers the most important parts and systems, such as the engine, transmission, and drive axles.

Common Exclusions

Typically, vehicle protection plans do not cover:

  • Wear-and-tear parts like brake pads, shoes, and rotors
  • Cosmetic items such as interior upholstery and exterior trim
  • Auto glass like windshields and light bulbs
  • Aftermarket accessories and lift kits
  • Damage due to weather, a collision, misuse, abuse, or neglect
  • Catalytic converters
  • Air bags
  • Batteries

Who Has the Best Extended Car Warranty?

You may be able to purchase a vehicle protection plan through your car manufacturer, but in some cases, we recommend going with an independent warranty company instead. Independent providers offer many benefits over manufacturer-backed plans, including:

  • More coverage flexibility: Warranty companies typically offer five or so plans to choose from, while most manufacturers only have one or two options.
  • Lower costs: Plans sold through dealerships are often subject to high mark-ups that raise total costs. Plus, warranty companies often have more deductible options, so you can choose the amount that best fits your budget.
  • More repair shop flexibility: With a manufacturer’s plan, you’ll need to take your car into a dealership each time you need repairs. With an independent company, you can go to any certified repair facility, including dealerships, mom-and-pop shops, and national repair chains.

Our review team has analyzed each major player in the extended warranty industry, evaluating companies in terms of plan options, prices, customer reviews, industry reputation, and more. Based on this research, we recommend customers interested in getting the best vehicle protection plans look into Endurance, CARCHEX, and CarShield.

Here’s how we rated each company:

#1 Endurance #2 CARCHEX #3 CarShield
Reputation 4.8 4.9 4.1
Coverage 5.0 5.0 5.0
Price 4.8 4.7 5.0
Transparency 5.0 4.3 4.3
Customer Service 4.8 5.0 4.4
Overall Rating 4.9 4.8 4.6

#1 Endurance: Best Coverage

Endurance is our highest-rated provider thanks to its comprehensive plans and outstanding customer service. The company holds a 3.59-star customer rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has received a 4.2-star rating on Trustpilot. Endurance is also the only top-rated provider to appear on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing US companies.

Here’s an overview of Endurance’s vehicle protection plans:

Endurance Vehicle Protection Plans
Number of Plans 5
Maximum Contract Length 8 years/200,000+ miles
Deductible Options $0, $50, $100, $200
Availability All US states except California
Added Benefits 24/7 roadside assistance; towing coverage; rental car reimbursement;
trip interruption coverage; one-year Endurance Elite Membership
that includes key fob and tire replacements, $5,000 in repair finance loans,
identity theft protection, personal concierge services,
and $250 in entertainment vouchers

Read more about this provider in our comprehensive Endurance warranty review.

#2 CARCHEX: Best Service

CARCHEX has a strong reputation among experts in the extended warranty industry and partners with prominent companies such as CARFAX, Edmunds.com, and Kelley Blue Book. The provider is also a popular choice among drivers, earning an A+ rating from the BBB and 3.3-star customer rating on Trustpilot.

Here’s a snapshot of CARCHEX vehicle service plans:

CARCHEX Vehicle Protection Plans
Number of Plans 5
Maximum Contract Length 10 years/250,000 miles
Deductible Options $0, $50, $100, $200
Availability All US states
Added Benefits 24/7 roadside assistance, towing coverage, rental car reimbursement,
trip interruption coverage

You can learn more about this provider in our full CARCHEX review.

#3 CarShield: Best Value

CarShield’s low-cost warranty contracts have made it one of the most popular providers in the industry. Since opening its doors in 2005, the company’s administrators have paid out over $1 billion in claims to drivers across the nation. CarShield is also our only top-rated provider that offers protection plans for motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.

Here’s a look at CarShield’s extended warranties:

CarShield Vehicle Protection Plans
Number of Plans 6
Maximum Contract Length 200,000 miles
Deductible Options $0, $50, $100
Availability All US states except California
Added Benefits 24/7 roadside assistance, towing coverage, rental car reimbursement

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our CarShield review.

How Much Does a Vehicle Protection Plan Cost?

According to our first-hand research, the average vehicle protection plan costs between $2,500 and $4,000. However, the price of an extended warranty will be different for every driver, as it’s based on individualized factors such as the plan you choose, the deductible you choose, your location, and your vehicle’s make, model, age, and mileage.

To give you a better idea of how much vehicle protection plans cost, we’ve listed the sample quotes we collected from each of our top-rated providers in the table below. These quotes are for a bumper-to-bumper warranty plan for a 2017 Ford Explorer with 45,000 miles on it.

#1 Endurance #2 CARCHEX #3 CarShield
Term Length 3 years/80,000 miles 5 years/100,000 miles Unlimited years/miles
Financing $166.88 per month
for 18 months
$202.89 per month
for 18 months
$129.99 per month
Deductible $100 $100 $100
Down Payment $178.10 First month’s payment First month’s payment
Total Cost $3,181.94 $3,652.02 Varies

As you can see, CarShield offers the best coverage for those interested in low monthly payments. However, if you can pay more per month, an Endurance or CARCHEX plan may be a better deal in the long run because your warranty will be paid off after 18 months.

Are Car Protection Plans Worth It?

When determining whether a vehicle protection plan would be worth it for your vehicle, it’s a good idea to look into your vehicle’s reliability and honestly assess your finances.

To get insight into how dependable your vehicle may be and how much you should expect to pay for certain repairs, you can refer to sites like RepairPal, which uses driver-reported data to estimate repair costs and reliability scores for 32 car brands.

If you find that you drive a highly reliable vehicle and your manufacturer’s average annual repair costs can easily be factored into your budget, a vehicle protection plan may not be a necessary investment. On the other hand, vehicles that are more prone to breakdowns or that may incur higher costs to repair are prime candidates for extended warranties.

To aid in your decision making, take a look at common repairs for some of the most popular vehicles in the US and what they cost on average, according to RepairPal.

Vehicle Common Repair Repair Costs
Chevrolet Equinox Head gasket replacement $1,075 to $1,355
Spark plug replacement $142 to $173
Honda CR-V Fuel pump replacement $552 to $828
Suspension or shock strut assembly replacement $221 to $447
Toyota RAV4 Fuel pump replacement $707 to $732
Suspension or shock strut assembly replacement $164 to $431
Toyota Camry Head gasket replacement $2,531 to $4,017
Spark plug replacement $168 to $280

*Common repairs and costs based on RepairPal data for 2020 model year vehicles.

If you could comfortably pay these costs out of pocket as they arise, you probably won’t benefit much from a vehicle protection plan. However, if you’re one of the thousands of drivers that would rather finance major repair costs over time, an extended warranty could be a great investment.

Final Thoughts on Vehicle Protection Plans

A vehicle protection plan acts as a valuable financial safety net for many drivers, but it may not be for everyone. To determine whether an extended warranty would be a sound investment for you, take a look at your budget and yearly estimated repair costs. Then, get quotes from multiple providers to see whether the cost of a warranty would outweigh the cost of repairs.

You can get started comparing free, personalized quotes from our top recommended providers below.

Best Extended Warranty Companies
AutoGuide reviewed the top car warranty companies to find the best.
Below are our top 3 picks.
Best Coverage Best Service Best Value
Endurance CARCHEX CarShield
★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★1/2
Get Quote Get Quote Get Quote
(877) 374-1840 (866) 254-0205 (800) 563-2761