CarShield is a company that offers an aftermarket (not-manufacturer-backed) warranty on your car, truck, crossover, or motorcycle after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. The idea is that you pay CarShield a monthly fee (in the ballpark of $100 per month) and if your vehicle then requires a pricey repair, the CarShield policy will cover some or all of the cost. This is how most extended car warranty programs work. CarShield says that when you have a breakdown, it’s the company’s job to help you get back on the road. In addition to subsidizing the cost of repairs that would upset your monthly budget, CarShield includes roadside assistance, towing, and car rental as part of its warranty plan.
CarShield bills itself as “Number one in the country.” However, we are not sure how that ranking was calculated. The BBB ratings and many online reviews of CarShield are quite negative. If those concern you, we suggest you consider alternatives (we’ve listed some below).
CARCHEX is one of the more flexible car warranty companies, having a wide range of plan options. In contrast to CarShield, CARCHEX has an A+ rating from BBB. You can read our full review of CARCHEX here.
Endurance is a car warranty company that not only sells you the policy but also administers it. The company that has a strong marketing presence and overall good online reviews. You can read our full review of Endurance here.
If you’ve got a vehicle made by FCA (Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Fiat), you should take a serious look at the Chrysler Warranty Direct program before you consider other service contract providers. There are three things we like about CWD. They’re a direct provider, meaning that while they’re selling you a contract, they’re also administering the contract when repairs are needed. Chrysler Warranty Direct also uses original parts to service your vehicle. Last, all of the work performed is at authorized, franchised FCA dealerships, by technicians trained by the manufacturer.
Similar to CWD, GM Extended Protection Plans cover General Motors vehicles (Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac) and extend the coverage of your bumper-to-bumper warranty for up to 10 years. GM administers this program, but the plans are sold through authorized resellers and franchised GM dealerships. Ease of use is one plus of a GM Extended Protection Plan. You don’t need to carry paperwork or a membership card. Any authorized GM dealership in the country can access your plan information from the car’s vehicle identification number and will provide services using their factory-trained technicians, and service your vehicle with GM-specific parts.
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Car Shield’s pricing will depend on your vehicle’s particular make, model and year, and also what options you want. Like all car warranty companies, CarShield offers to provide you with a warranty that will cost you very little and cover only a handful of the most basic items, or you can pay more and have a more comprehensive policy. The majority of CarShield customers report paying around $100 per month for the policy with a range from around $80 to around $130 being the typical price spread. The best way to find out your cost is to phone CarShield.
A CarShield warranty can be purchased to cover just the largest and most basic items, such as the engine and transmission, or much more. In between are policies that layer in more and more components and systems. Shoppers for such warranties typically ask themselves, “What kind of repair can I myself handle, and what type will I need to purchase insurance to cover?”
If you have a specific concern about your vehicle, you can be sure to add that type of repair to the contract you buy. For example, let’s say you own a used Subaru about ten years old. You learn from reading forums on Facebook that this particular model has a habit of needing expensive repairs due to overheating. You could add that in. Or perhaps you own one of the Nissan vehicles that were early adopters of the CVT transmission. You could be sure to add coverage for that item. Perhaps the model you own is notorious for infotainment issues. You could structure a plan that includes that as well.
Generally, maintenance is not covered by a CarShield warranty. Do not confuse a vehicle warranty with a maintenance plan. They are two different things. That means when you need a timing belt replacement, water pump, spark plugs, and all the fluids changed at around 100,000 miles, you are going to pay out of pocket for those maintenance items. And they can add up to thousands of dollars. The same is true of brake maintenance, oil changes, filters, tires, and any other routine maintenance parts and labor your vehicle may need.
Here’s a very important thing that a CarShield plan will not cover: A pre-existing failure. If your vehicle has already had a problem come up and your scheme is to buy a monthly plan, have the expensive vehicle problem fixed, and then cancel the plan, you should run for Congress. You’ll fit right in. But don’t try to game the system by thinking the folks that sell warranties by the gazillions haven’t figured out ways to protect themselves from fraud.
A vehicle warranty also only covers exactly what it says it does in your contract. So you need to have a discussion with the CarShield sales representative and then you need to closely review what you are buying before you opt in.
Many vehicle owners don’t need an extended warranty. The list of reasons why you don’t is almost endless. Starting with you may already have a vehicle that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. For original owners, Hyundai’s warranty is good for ten years and 100,000 miles. For almost any modern automobile, the drivetrain warranty extends at least five-years and 60,000 miles. The full-coverage warranty on a newer vehicle typically lasts about 36,000 miles and three years. If you are still within that period, you already have a vehicle warranty. And you likely also have the option of extending it for a fee directly from the manufacturer if it has not yet expired.
Vehicles purchased used sometimes also have warranties included. Certified pre-owned vehicle warranties usually last a year or longer and at least 10,000 miles. If you are within that period, you are already covered.
Let’s say you are a good saver and have enough money in your savings or emergency fund now to cover a repair that could cost you as much as $2,000. Or, you could use that money towards a used car if your old car finally dies due to a very expensive repair. If so, you don’t need a used car aftermarket warranty because you have enough to either fix the car and pay for it, or you could ditch the old clunker (donate, junk it, sell it as is) and buy a new-to-you used car.
If you drive an older car, and you live paycheck to paycheck like many Americans, a car warranty may prove helpful to you. Others among us don’t like surprises and would struggle to manage a situation where an expensive car repair was required. For folks in these categories, an aftermarket vehicle warranty may be a good fit.
Step back a moment and realize that the entire vehicle warranty business cannot work if the companies are paying out more than they take in. Consumer Reports conducted a study in 2013 and a survey in 2014 that found most buyers of such warranties paid more out than what they got in repairs. Furthermore, the majority of warranty owners did not use those warranties.
CarShield has earned a 4-out-of-5 star rating on Google Reviews as of the date of our research for this article. But when we sorted the Google Reviews by “newest” we found that six out of the newest ten reviews were the lowest rating of 1 Star. Three of the six low ratings were from Google Reviews Local Guides (Folks who do frequent reviews and post up images and comments).
On Yelp, we found that CarShield earns a 1.5-out-of-5 star rating. The newest 20 reviews posted showed the lowest possible rating of 1 star. “Nightmare, scam, worst, beware,” and other descriptive words of this type gave us pause.
Car Talk always likes to look to the Better Business Bureau for its rating of companies we research. What we found about CarShield was disturbing. Here is the note we found on the BBB’s site warning consumers considering CarShield:
“Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to use caution when considering doing business with CarShield, an Auto Service Contract company. BBB has received a pattern of consumer complaints alleging misleading sales and advertising practices, rude customer service, failure to cover needed repairs, difficulty canceling a policy and obtaining a refund, and that the firm made harassing calls or sent harassing mail solicitations.”
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We offer a qualified “yes,” but we hope readers will look closely at the red flags we uncovered when researching the company’s ratings.
No. CarShield does not offer any vehicle breakdown protection contracts in California.
Yes, you can purchase a CarShield policy that will cover your car’s transmission.
No. CarShield does not offer vehicle maintenance contracts. Please see our section on what CarShield does cover for more details.
Yes. You can purchase a CarShield warranty that will cover electrical issues.
Although not a direct provider, CarShield does a great job of building awareness about its brokerage services. The Better Business Bureau, however, advises caution when considering doing business with CarShield and even gives them an F rating, so we'd recommend reviewing our checklist of how to find a reputable car warranty company.
Car Talk always likes to look to the Better Business Bureau for its rating of companies we research. What we found about CarShield was disturbing. Please make certain to look at all the reviews and information before making a decision about CarShield.
CarShield’s pricing completely depends on your vehicle’s particular make, model and year, and also what options you want. Like all car warranty companies, CarShield offers to provide you with a warranty that will cost you very little for the basic plan, or pay more for more converage. As always, make sure to read your contract carefully.
The best way to get a good price is to compare offers. We recommend reaching out to...