The Ultimate Used Car Warranty Guide

A used car warranty is a protection plan, usually offered by a third-party company to cover a vehicle after an original manufacturer’s warranty has expired. In some cases, a used car may still be covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty. Let’s explore used vehicle protection plans and all they entail.
A used vehicle protection plan covers repairs or replacements on specific vehicle components for a certain period of time. There are many types available. Sometimes they are worth it and other times, not so much. Let's have a look at the various types of used car warranties available, the terms and coverage they offer, and how to find the best warranty for your needs.

Do Used Vehicles Come With A Warranty?

Most used vehicles do not come with a warranty attached. Instead, they are most often sold “as-is.” Sometimes, a used car happens to still be covered under a manufacturer’s original warranty, but these cases are relatively rare.

What does “as-is” mean?

"As is" means a used vehicle is being sold without any warranties. The seller is not responsible for any problems with the car, and the buyer is accepting the car in its current condition, including the risk of any undisclosed defects.

It's a good idea to have a used car inspected by a mechanic before purchasing. That way, a buyer can identify any potential problems or issues.

How to check if a car is under warranty?

Some used vehicles may still have warranty coverage under the original manufacturer's warranty. Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles typically come with an original manufacturer's warranty, and private party vehicles may as well—especially if they are fairly new.
Here are 3 steps you can take to check if a used car is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty.

1. Check the car's documentation. The owner's manual or service records may provide information about the original manufacturer's warranty. Based on the warranty terms, you can then determine whether the warranty has expired.
2. Contact the manufacturer. You inquire about the car's warranty status with the manufacturer. Be prepared to provide the car's vehicle identification number and other info.
3. Check online. Some manufacturers have online tools that allow you to check original warranties of vehicles by entering a car’s VIN.

Are there lemon laws for used cars?

Lemon laws are consumer protection laws that protect buyers of defective vehicles. These laws generally apply to new vehicles that have a significant defect. Most states do not have lemon laws for private vehicle sales.
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Is a Used Car Warranty Worth It?

When considering purchasing an extended warranty for your used car, there are four main factors. Whether or not it’s worth it to you will depend on where you fall in scheme of these.

1. The type of vehicle you’re purchasing and what sorts of repairs you anticipate. Some vehicles are extremely expensive to repair, and you may be glad you had a protection plan to replace that $4,000 windshield.
2. The mileage and condition of the car. Newer cars will need fewer repairs, statistically speaking, while older and high-mileage cars will need more.
3. The level of coverage you’d like to have. The more comprehensive the coverage, the higher the warranty rate.
4. Your finances. You’ll need to weigh the cost of the protection plan against the cost of expected repairs.

We know—this doesn’t give a definitive answer about whether a protection plan is worth it or not. But that’s because we don’t know your situation.

You can also consider mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) in lieu of buying an extended warranty. You can get MBI as an add-on to your auto insurance policy. Most insurance companies offer MBI plans as low as $30-100 per year, depending on the year and mileage of the vehicle.

What types of used car warranties are available?

There are several types of used car protection plans or warranties. Some cover specific components, while others cover the entire vehicle.

Powertrain warranty: covers the engine, transmission, and drivetrain
Bumper-to-bumper: bumper-to-bumper warranties cover all repair costs, except for those listed as exclusions in the warranty agreement
Corrosion warranty: covers rust damage restoration costs
Limited warranties: these coverage plans usually apply to specific parts or systems of the car, such as the electrical system or the air conditioning system
Original manufacturer's warranty: also known as factory warranties, these are issued by a car’s manufacturer. Factory warranties cover specific parts or systems for a limited period of time, and may be transferable to new owners
Third-party warranties: purchased separately from the dealership and may offer more comprehensive coverage at a higher price

Generally, when people talk about used car warranties, they are referring to the last point above: third-party warranties, which are more accurately termed protection plans.

What are the best used car warranty companies?

Third-party protection plans can offer decent coverage, but do your research to know what’s covered by them; then compare the cost of the plan against any potential repairs.

Warranty Factors to Consider

Some issues and ideas you might consider when evaluating used car protection plans:
The types of coverage offered
The length of the warranty period
Any exclusions and limitations of the coverage
The reputation and financial stability of the company offering the protection plan
The cost of the warranty

It's also a good idea to read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends or family members who have purchased a used car warranty from a third-party company.

Third-Party Used Car Warranty Companies

Top used car warranty companies include CARCHEX, Endurance, Concord Auto Protect, and Omega. All of these offer fairly reputable extended warranties, so if you’re thinking of purchasing an extended warranty, feel free to check them out and get car warranty quotes. As with any warranty company, make sure to read the fine print and know your terms and conditions.

CARCHEX offers 4 warranty options, ranging from powertrain coverage to bumper-to-bumper coverage, as well as a variety of add-on options. A CARCHEX warranty includes a 5-day money-back guarantee and a 24/7 claims hotline. If you’re buying or selling a used vehicle, CARCHEX also offers vehicle inspections.
Endurance offers several coverage options, including powertrain and bumper-to-bumper coverage, as well as add-on options such as roadside assistance and trip interruption protection. An Endurance warranty includes a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 24/7 claims hotline.
Concord Auto Protect offers multiple plans and includes roadside assistance and a 30-day money back guarantee.
Omega offers two plans, allowing you to choose your level of coverage. One targeted to older high-mileage vehicles and the other for vehicles on the newer side. They also offer rental car reimbursement and other amenities.

There are many other companies offering used car protection plans, but always do your own due diligence. You want to purchase a protection plan from a reputable, stable company that will honor the terms of the warranty.

How Much Does a Used Car Warranty Cost?

According to Endurance, used car warranties usually cost between $350 and $700 per year. Costs vary significantly based on the following factors:

Type of coverage
Length of the warranty period
Exclusions and limitations of the coverage
Reputation and financial stability of the company
Age and mileage of the car
Make and model of the car
Deductible amount (if applicable)

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Used Car Warranty FAQ

What is a used car warranty?

A used car warranty is a protection plan that covers repairs or replacements on specific vehicle components for a certain period of time. These warranties are often offered by car dealerships as an added incentive when purchasing a used car, but they can also be purchased separately from third-party companies.

What types of used car warranties are available?

Can I get a protection plan on a salvage title vehicle?

How do I find the best used car warranty?

Can I purchase a used car warranty from a third-party company?

Are used car warranties transferable?

What can void a used car warranty?

How long are most used car warranties?

What is an extended car warranty plan and how does it protect my car?

What are the different coverage levels available with extended car warranties?

How does the claims process work for extended car warranties?