About Warranties: What is an Extended Car Warranty?

Looking to lengthen your factory car warranty? Extended car warranties can help provide repair coverage.

Cars are complex machines with a lot of moving parts. Do you ever think about everything going on under the hood when your car starts? Internal combustion engines start when you turn the key right? Well, yes at a very basic level, but the process has many steps in it. It includes the gas that is fed through the injectors into the cylinder by the fuel pump. The fuel is ignited by the spark plugs.

The explosion forces the piston heads down which move the rods rotating the crankshaft. The force engages the transmission, clutch, driveshaft, axles, and wheels. This basic overview of how a car moves shows how complicated the process is! There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your car, but there are ways you can get help too. Car warranties are one option to repair your vehicle for covered situations.

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    About Car Warranties

    A warranty covers defects, problems, and non accident-related breakage on a vehicle’s factory equipped parts and accessories. This includes repairs in an attempt to make the car good as new. Cars come from the factory with a manufacturer’s warranty. These warranties usually last for a limited number of years or a specific number of miles.

    For example, a Ford New Vehicle Limited Warranty on your new Ford Mustang may last around 3 years or 36,000 miles depending on how much the vehicle is driven. This is often referred to as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. It covers manufacturer-related defects and problems on parts located between both bumpers. If you encounter a defect or experience a problem, your warranty can handle it.

    There are also powertrain warranties which cover the parts and components which move the vehicle. These parts include the engine, drivetrain, axles, differential, gearboxes, and other similar things. For example, Ford Powertrain Warranties on new vehicles provide coverage from a duration of around 5 years to 60,000 miles – whichever comes first. The reason why the powertrain and limited warranties are different is due to the fact that powertrain parts are built to endure higher levels of stress and use.

    Unpacking Extended Warranties

    About Extended Warranties & Service Plans

    Extended warranties are often called extended service plans. They are just what they sound like. When the car’s factory manufacturer’s warranty ends, extended warranties can provide additional coverage for maintenance, unplanned services, and repairs. These warranties usually last for a limited number of years or a specific number of miles.

    Extended Warranty Types

    Several types of extended warranties may be available depending on the type of vehicle you have and the level of coverage you need. Talking to a qualified product representative can help you figure out how to get the most repair coverage for your car. The types of extended warranties include the following plans.

    • Limited Warranties

      Limited warranties which cover a set number of parts, components, and vehicle systems.

    • Enhanced Warranties

      Enhanced warranties which can cover additional systems, electrical units, subsystems, and more.

    • Comprehensive Warranties

      Comprehensive warranties which cover most parts and components of the car. Bumper-to-bumper warranties fall into this type category.

    Similar to VSCs

    Extended warranties are very similar to vehicle service contracts. These plans often provide the same repair coverage.

    Car Repair Help

    The extended plan can help cover car repairs when your factory warranty ends giving you peace of mind on the road.


    Worried about the high value parts which move your vehicle? Extended warranties can provide drivetrain protection.

    Use Cases

    Why Purchase an Extended Warranty?

    There are a number of reasons you may want to consider getting an extended warranty or service contract. These include peace of mind, repair coverage, getting a mid-term rental, protection against repair cost increases, and vehicle resale value.

    Extended warranties can help you keep peace of mind. Life can throw a lot of unexpected circumstances at you. Knowing that you have a plan which can help maintain your vehicle and cover problems with some of the parts is one less thing you have to worry about and keep track of.

    Repair coverage is another factor. Vehicles need constant maintenance and upkeep. They should be maintained and repaired on schedule or you risk exacerbating the problem – potentially making things much worse at increased cost. Extended warranties can allow you to make repairs when you need without waiting for payday or using up your savings you were planning to use for the next vacation.

    Extended warranties and also help to provide access to rental cars while your car is in the shop for covered repairs. This can be a great feature to have if you only have one car in your family or household. Some shops do offer courtesy vehicles you can drive if your car is there for repairs, but the number of courtesy vehicles is often very limited. Courtesy vehicle wait lists can be weeks or months – putting off your covered car repair by that much longer. Getting an extended warranty plan with rental coverage gives you a way to get around while waiting for your car to get out of the shop.

    With inflation consistently increasing, more so than ever now, extended warranties can help protect against the rising costs of repairs. The prices of fuel, parts, and labor are increasing on a regular basis depending on the economy and supply chain disruptions. Extended warranty plans can help keep repair costs down when the parts and associated repairs fall under plan coverage.

    Extended warranty plans are also transferable with most vehicles to the new owner at the time of sale. This means if you get a warranty plan on your current vehicle now, you can sell your car later with the plan adding increased value to the new owner. This can help you sell your used car for a better price due to the added resale value.

    Extended Warranties Versus Service Contracts

    When looking at either an extended car warranty or a vehicle service contract, it depends on which type of plan works best for you and is available in your area. Warranties and contracts are very similar and include repair coverage for many of the same car parts. Several of the differences are the terminology and how dealerships and service partners cover repairs. You usually only need one or the other. Do not need both an extended warranty and a vehicle service contract.

    What to look for in an Extended Warranty

    Several types of extended warranties may be available depending on the type of vehicle you have and the level of coverage you need. Talking to a qualified product representative can help you figure out how to get the most repair coverage for your car. The types of extended warranties include the following plans.

    • Bumper-to-Bumper Coverage

      Bumper-to-bumper coverage is a valuable feature to look for in an extended warranty. This coverage means practically any and all parts are covered. By definition, a bumper-to-bumper plan is an exclusionary plan meaning that it will tell you which aspects of the vehicle or parts, if any, are not covered with anything else not mentioned being covered. Areas which do not normally fall under bumper-to-bumper coverage often include cosmetic defects to paint and exterior finishes as well as scheduled maintenance items and related parts. If a contract or plan specifically lists the items like components, parts, systems, and subsystems, it is not a bumper-to-bumper warranty plan.

    • Wear and Tear Protection

      Check to see if the extended warranty has a wear and tear provision or clause or if it includes wear and tear protection. This includes coverage for parts that get worned out and break with regular use of the vehicle. Many extended warranty plans may not cover parts and components which fail or need replacing due to normal use over time. These parts can include parts that move or oscillate a lot along with sealing parts. Some examples include struts, values, gaskets, o-rings, seals, piston rings, certain rubberized components, and other expensive parts.

    • Mechanical Breakdown Plans

      Most drivers will experience a mechanical breakdown at some point on the road. Hopefully when this happens, you will not find yourself far from home, but if you do, a mechanical breakdown plan can help. These plans cover catastrophic failures of components and parts. However, they often have wear and tear exclusions and will not cover repairs to parts that fail or need replacement at the end of their useful life. This fact makes them less useful when it comes to covering your car when compared to more comprehensive warranty options.

    • Heat-related Coverage

      Some extended warranties will not cover repairs or replacement of parts due to overheating and heating-related damage. This is because engines can heat up extremely fast when they overheat and the temperatures can affect many parts and compromise their integrity. Keep in mind that non comprehensive extended warranties may exclude covered repairs if your vehicle is experiencing unrelated overheating at the same time or both problems occur in the same episode. Check the clause in your extended warranty to see what heat exclusions exist, if any. If you are in the market for a warranty, try to find one that includes heat damage coverage.

    • Roadside Assistance & Towing

      Many extended warranties offer roadside assistance plans allowing you to get help if your car becomes stranded while traveling on the road. Look for a plan which offers nationwide roadside assistance so you will be able to request assistance wherever you go within the United States. If your warranty does offer this feature, make sure it covers you per occurrence. The towing aspect will normally cover mileage to the nearest service station or auto repair shop with additional mileage fees afterward if you specify your own destination. Avoid warranties and plans which have an out-of-pocket reimbursement clause which is related assistance due to covered repairs. This means you will be paying extra if your car broke down to uncovered parts. Warranty features to look for include the following items.

      • Emergency Roadside Assistance Service
      • Towing with Mileage Coverage Provision
      • Mechanical First Aid Help & Breakdown Service
      • Emergency Tire Service & Fix-a-flat Help
      • Battery Assistance & Jump-start Service
      • Gasoline Delivery (usually does not include fuel cost)
      • Fluid Delivery (may or may not include fluid cost)
      • Emergency Lock-out Service & Locksmith Service
      • Nationwide Coverage (usually anywhere within Continental US)
      • Includes a Toll-free 800 Number
      • Provides Service 24 Hours a Day, 365 Days a Year
    • Car Rental Coverage & Reimbursement

      Car rental coverage is another helpful part of an extended car warranty plan. This plan feature kicks in if your car is in the auto repair shop for covered repairs which will take longer than one day or one overnight. The plan can provide a daily rental amount to use for renting a car. The exact amount depends on your specific plan. Rental car reimbursement may also be available and/or included in your plan.

    • Trip Interruption Provisions

      Trip interruptions are not fun. It is a bad day when you find yourself hundreds or thousands of miles away from home and your car breaks down. Extended warranties can help mitigate this circumstance by providing trip interruption help which can pay for your lodging, meals, and other unplanned expenses. Expense reimbursement and a daily expense allowance may also be available. This provision can normally help you if your car is in the shop for covered repairs which occur farther than 100 miles away from your home address. The distance and details are outlined in your warranty plan terms, so check the specifics there.

    • Nationwide Protection

      North America is a very large continent with many places to explore. If you are planning on taking road trips, driving long distances, and crossing borders, make sure your extended warranty plan provides unlimited repair coverage in those areas. Look for highlights in your plan for nationwide protection and assistance to include the United States and Canada. Certain warranty plans may also cover Mexico as well. Checking for these areas will help you make needed repairs at any repair facility within that area or country.

    • Deductible Amounts

      Deductibles are important to understand so you will know how much you are paying for covered repairs and/or help on the road. Most extended warranty plans offer deductible options between $0, $50, and $100. This means you will pay that amount if or when you need to use the plan for covered repairs and help while on the road. The cost associated with the plan will sometimes change slightly depending on the deductible amount you select. For example, a plan with a $0 deductible means you can use it without paying per occurrence, but the plan’s base cost may be higher than a $100 deductible plan.

    • Extended Warranty Renewals

      To make sure your vehicle is always covered, check the renewal policy on the extended warranty plan. Plans are usually active on an annual basis with the repair coverage and plan benefits lasting for 12 months. The most helpful plans have a rolling renewal period so that the warranty will continuously be active for as long as you own the car.

    • Transferable Warranty Coverage

      Extended warranty plans have a unique value-add concept. As the owner of the car, they help you fix and replace covered repairs while on the road, but what if you sell the car? Most  warranties are transferable with the vehicle. This means if you sell your car, the plan can go with it, and the new owner will benefit from the same coverage. This can increase the resale value of your car to the right buyer. There may be a small transfer fee to update the new owner’s information.

    About Extended Vehicle Warranties in Remote Locations

    Extended Warranty FAQs

    Looking for information about extended car warranties? Find out more about how a warranty can help you on the road.

    Extended warranties can help you repair your car. The warranty usually includes or excludes a list of car parts. If your car has problems related to a covered part, the plan can help pay for getting you help on the road as well as the repair costs and labor.

    Yes, some extended warranties come with roadside assistance. This allows you to get help on the road for covered car-related problems. If you have an uncovered problem, you can also get help for an extra cost.

    How often you can use roadside assistance depends on your warranty plan. There may be limits to the service. For example, you may be able to use roadside assistance every few days.

    The specific parts list depends on your warranty. If your warranty is more limited it will have an included parts list. If your warrant is more comprehensive like a bumper-to-bumper warranty, it will have an excluded parts list with everything else being included.

    It depends on the warranty. Some may help with maintenance, but most warranties only cover problems with parts and not maintenance or repairs from normal wear and tear on parts.