Content on Jalopnik Advisor is commercial in nature and independent of Jalopnik Editorial and Advertising. Jalopnik Advisor content is free to consumers and always will be, however we and our partners may be compensated if you purchase a product or service through the links on this website.
This article will explain what a used car warranty is, what it covers, and how to get one. Our experts will also recommend several of the best extended car warranty companies worth considering.
Used Car Warranties
All new cars come with a factory warranty that pays for unexpected auto repairs if your vehicle breaks down. When you purchase a used vehicle, it’s essential to check if it still falls under the original warranty and what the warranty covers. And if the car doesn’t, you’ll want to consider whether purchasing a used vehicle warranty plan from a dealership or third-party company is worth the extra cost.
What Is A Used Car Warranty?
A “used car warranty” is essentially a warranty that covers a used car. This can mean multiple things, including a factory warranty on a used car, a certified pre-owned warranty, or a used car extended warranty (more on the differences below). In most cases, the term “used car warranty” refers to an extended warranty that drivers can purchase to cover the repairs of major vehicle components on their used vehicle, such as the engine or transmission.
Do Used Cars Come With A Warranty?
The only used cars that automatically come with a warranty are certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. In addition, there are instances in which a manufacturer’s warranty is still on a used car that you buy. There are also some cases where a used car may be covered under an extended warranty purchased by a previous owner that can be transferred.
What Does “As Is” Mean When Buying A Used Car?
Buying a car “as is” means that the car you are buying does not have a warranty. Until you purchase a warranty for your used car, all costs associated with your vehicle will not be covered by the dealership or warranty company and will come out of your pocket. When buying a used car, be sure to find out whether the vehicle comes with or without a warranty. The best thing to do is to ask the dealer questions, check the buyer’s guide, and find out as much information as possible about your used car warranty.
How To Check If A Car Is Under Warranty
Along with asking questions and checking the buyer’s guide, you can find out if your used car is still under factory warranty by checking your vehicle identification number (VIN) and calling your dealership. From there, your dealership can give you all the details on any warranty information you need.
Used Car Lemon Law
There are only six states in the country (New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) that have used car lemon laws. These laws provide a required used car warranty that is based on the condition of the car. The dealer will have to repair any problems from the vehicle for a certain amount of time. If the dealer keeps trying to fix problems and nothing is improving, the dealer is required to give you a new vehicle or refund you.
What To Do If Your State Doesn’t Have Used Car Lemon Laws
If you live in a state where there aren’t any used car lemon laws, there are still federal laws that will help you. The Uniform Commercial Code, The Federal Trade Commission’s Used Car Rule, and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act are three nation-wide laws that can help protect you when buying a used car.
How Does A Used Car Warranty Work?
If you are covered by a used car warranty and your vehicle breaks down, you can take it to a licensed repair shop for diagnosis. Your plan provider or administrator will pay the repair shop directly minus your deductible, if repairs are covered under warranty.
What Is A Factory Warranty On A Used Car?
A factory warranty is a guarantee that the dealership will help replace or repair any parts of your vehicle that are defective after purchase. However, a factory warranty does not cover things like oil changes and regular maintenance. A factory warranty can still apply to a used car if it hasn’t expired or you purchase a certified pre-owned warranty from the manufacturer. Also, some manufacturers offer extended warranties you can purchase for vehicles that meet certain requirements.
What Is A Certified Pre-Owned Used Car Warranty?
A CPO car is a vehicle that is guaranteed to be in good working order and will have a manufacturer’s warranty. CPO’s are different from other used vehicles because the dealer will only sell CPO vehicles that are their brand. For instance, Ford will only sell a Ford CPO and Chevy will only sell a Chevy CPO.
Extended Used Car Warranty
An extended used car warranty prolongs your factory warranty to protect your vehicle against covered mechanical breakdowns for a period that lasts longer than the new car limited warranty. While true manufacturer-backed used car warranties can be purchased from the automaker that built your vehicle in many cases or come with the purchase of a CPO used car, most used car extended warranties are vehicle service contracts.
Warranty Options For Used Cars
You can purchase a used car warranty from a third-party provider or the dealership where you bought your used car.
Aftermarket Extended Warranty For Used Cars
Purchasing coverage from a provider like Endurance, CARCHEX, or CarShield gives you more freedom and flexibility than buying from a dealership. Most third-party warranty providers allow you to purchase coverage for your vehicle at almost any time or mileage. You’re also not limited when it comes to repairs since most providers allow you to take your vehicle to any licensed repair facility.
Used Car Manufacturer Warranty
You can also purchase extended warranty coverage from the manufacturer, usually through a brand dealership. Most dealerships will offer you a powertrain warranty at minimum, which covers your vehicle’s engine, transmission, and drive axle. A manufacturer may also provide extended coverage through a separate administrator, which may give you more coverage choices and term lengths.
How To Transfer A Warranty On A Used Car
The first thing that needs to be done when transferring a warranty on a used car is to contact either the dealership or warranty company. You need to let them know about the sale of the car or the transfer of the warranty within the first 30 days of owning the vehicle.
The buyer of the car will need to give contact information and documentation, such as receipts, to the dealership or warranty company. Lastly, try to get all the information about the type of warranty that you are transferring. You will want to know the coverage, price, and length of the warranty that is being transferred.
Used Car Warranty Coverage
Before you purchase an extended car warranty, it’s important to decide what type of coverage you want. Almost all extended warranty providers and dealerships exclude routine maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, and windshield wipers.
Used Car Warranty Plans
Several levels of warranty coverage are available to drivers, with each covering different vehicle components and repairs. Below are some of the most common types of used car warranties:
- Used car bumper-to-bumper warranty: Covers most vehicle components except for a shortlist of exclusions
- Used car powertrain warranty: Covers a vehicle’s most essential parts including the engine, transmission, and drive axle
- Used car drivetrain warranty: Includes the same components covered in a powertrain warranty minus the engine
- Corrosion coverage: Pays repair costs related to rust
Used Car Warranty Cost
Used car warranty costs vary depending on the provider. While these prices provide an estimate of how much the best coverage could cost, your used car warranty quotes will still vary. Extended car warranty costs depend heavily on factors such as:
- Vehicle make, model, model year, and mileage
- Chosen coverage level
- Contract length
How Much Does A Used Car Warranty Cost?
Our 2022 extended car warranty survey that polled 1,000 respondents found that about half paid between $1,615 and $3,208 for an extended car warranty. Some providers require you to pay the costs upfront, while others allow you to pay monthly.
Here’s a closer look at respondents reported paying for an extended car warranty in our survey:
To give you a better idea of used car warranty cost, we collected cost information from the five best used car warranty companies. The following chart shows the quotes we received for powertrain plans on a Subaru Outback with 88,000 miles. All plans include a $100 deductible.
Used Car Warranty Prices
Used Car Warranty Company
5 years/51,000 miles
$69.96 for 36 months
with a $152.55 down payment
6 years/60,000 miles
$108 for 24 months
Unlimited years/unlimited miles
4. Protect My Car
4 years/unlimited miles
$79 for 48 months
with a $50 down payment
4 years/48,000 miles
$94.50 for 24 months
with a $252 down payment
Buying A Used Car Warranty
Some used cars may come with a limited warranty attached. However, you will more than likely need to purchase coverage from your dealership or a third-party company if you want continued coverage.
Do You Need A Warranty For A Used Car?
Here are a few things to note about used car warranties:
1. Check when the manufacturer’s warranty expires
You shouldn’t purchase an extended warranty if the original warranty is still active on your used car. Most factory warranties come with a 3 years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain warranty.
If you purchase your used car from a dealership, you can find out its warranty status by reading the Buyers Guide, which they are required to display. If the car is being sold “as is,” it means the car is no longer covered under warranty.
2. Read through vehicle service contracts for your used car
Whether your vehicle comes with a used car warranty or you decide to purchase coverage, it’s essential to read through the contract and any fine print. Each warranty should specifically outline who is legally responsible for repairs and what vehicle components are excluded if your car has a mechanical breakdown.
You’ll also want to spend time researching the contract administrator or third-party warranty company before you purchase coverage. Check the company’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot profiles for a look at the overall customer experience.
3. Expect to pay more if your car is older or has higher mileage
Used car warranties can be pricier than vehicle protection plans for new cars. This is because third-party warranty companies weigh age and mileage as factors when providing extended car warranty quotes, which tend to be higher in used cars than new ones.
4. Compare extended car warranty coverage options and pricing
Before you sign with a company, you should reach out to several used car warranty companies for quotes. Comparing estimates and coverage plans will ensure that you find the best deal for your budget.
Is A Used Car Warranty Worth It?
As vehicles age, the likelihood of mechanical issues increases. Used car warranty plans are popular for older vehicles to protect drivers from the costs of unexpected and expensive car repairs.
Should You Buy An Extended Warranty On A Used Car?
Consider the following when determining whether to purchase a used car warranty:
- Vehicle reliability: Does your vehicle regularly need auto repairs? Look up your model’s reliability rating and read customer reviews to see what other car owners have to say.
- Vehicle mileage: High-mileage vehicles have a greater chance of mechanical failure. Older vehicles may benefit greatly from an extended warranty for cars over 100k miles.
- Issues you’ve already faced: Many extended car warranty contracts have exclusions for preexisting conditions, which means that certain car repairs might not be covered. Additionally, most contracts have a waiting period before coverage kicks in to ensure that your vehicle is in proper working condition.
- How long you plan to keep your vehicle: An extended auto warranty might increase the resale value of your vehicle on the open market but likely will not increase your trade-in value at the dealership.
- Your need for roadside benefits: If you’re hoping for roadside assistance, towing, rental car reimbursement, and coverage for oil changes, a used car warranty is an excellent way to find protection.
Used Car Warranty Companies
Many third-party extended warranty providers offer coverage if your factory warranty has already ended. The best used car warranty companies are Endurance, CARCHEX, Protect My Car, CarShield, and autopom! based on our analysis of over 50 providers.
Best Used Car Warranty Companies
Best Used Car Warranty
With each of the best used car warranty companies we reviewed, you can purchase a vehicle service contract any time during your vehicle’s life at a reasonable rate.
Used Car Warranty Reviews
We’ve provided further information on the best used car warranties below:
#1 Endurance: Best Coverage
Endurance is a direct warranty provider, meaning it handles all claims itself without any middleman involved. The company offers a Select Premier plan specifically designed for drivers with up to 150,000 miles on their car. It provides protection for all vital vehicle components in addition to select air conditioning and electrical components. Plans are available in all states except California.
Keep reading: Endurance warranty reviews
#2 CARCHEX: Best for Used Cars
CARCHEX is one of the most reputable extended car warranty providers in the industry. The company is one of the best options for older vehicles since it can cover cars up to 250,000 miles. The Gold Plan was designed for used vehicles with over 60,000 miles and covers the powertrain systems (engine and transmission) and items like the brakes, suspension, and steering.
Keep reading: CARCHEX reviews
#3 Protect My Car: Best Maintenance Benefits
Protect My Car offers three levels of warranty coverage ranging from basic coverage to bumper-to-bumper coverage. These plans are available for vehicles up to 10 years old with fewer than 125,000 miles. The company also offers maintenance plans that can be purchased at any time regardless of your vehicle’s age. With each plan, customers receive 50 to 75 percent off covered repair services.
Keep reading: Protect My Car reviews
#4 CarShield: Best Value
CarShield plans are some of the longest-lasting in the industry. We found that certain plans will provide coverage up to 200,000 miles. The Platinum plan is the best option for used cars with higher mileage, as 15 major systems are covered including the air conditioning, steering, fuel pump, suspension, brakes, and engine.
Keep reading: CarShield reviews
#5 autopom!: Best Claims Process
The three levels of coverage that autopom! offers can cover vehicles up to 14 years old and 150,000 miles. The Exclusionary and High-Level plans offer coverage similar to a manufacturer’s warranty, covering almost any electrical or mechanical breakdown.
Keep reading: autopom! reviews
Used Car Warranty Quotes
When you buy a used car, make sure to compare all of your warranty options to find the best deal for your situation. Read through each vehicle service contract carefully to understand what type of warranty coverage is offered and what vehicle repairs are excluded.
Used Car Warranty: Conclusion
A used car warranty can save you money by paying for unexpected auto repairs. Along with recommendations for who is the most and least likely to benefit from a used car warranty, it’s important to take into account cost and coverage information before considering purchasing a plan from a dealer or aftermarket provider.
Used Car Warranty: FAQ
Below are some common frequently asked questions about used auto warranties:
Used Car Warranty Ratings
Our review process aims to deliver consistent and unbiased assessments of extended auto warranty providers.
How We Rate Used Car Warranty Companies
While there are multiple qualities that make a warranty company successful, our review team focuses on those we believe are the most important for consumers:
- Cost: Cost can be difficult to compare between providers because so many factors impact vehicle service contract pricing. To determine our cost score, we perform a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicles and plans and consider available deductibles.
- Coverage: Our team of experts looks at the number of extended warranty plans available, as well as term limits, exclusions, and added benefits like roadside assistance. Ratings also take into account the availability of maintenance coverage.
- Reputation: It’s important that an extended car warranty company is able to meet its claims obligations. Companies with a strong rating from the BBB score well in this category. Established providers with a long history of reliable service also receive positive marks.
- Customer Experience: We listen to real customer sales calls and comb through reviews on sites like the BBB to learn about customer experiences. Warranty companies with a low volume of complaints score well in this area. We also consider the availability of mobile apps and chat features.
*Data accurate at time of publication.