CarShield is aptly named. The company offers low-cost service protection plans for your vehicle. We normally refer to these types of programs at extended warranties. We researched CarShield and discovered some good that we feel CarShield shoppers will want to know about. We also found some red flags.
Due to the number of complaints we uncovered when reviewing CarShield, we suggest you at least comparison shop them against alternatives. You can read our article on the 8 Best Warranty Companies... or if you are lazy, just check out CARCHEX, Toco, autopom! or Endurance, all have better reviews than CarShield.
Car Talk has spent the last year doing a deep dive into the warranties industry for the benefit of our readership and long-time listeners. Our process for deciding on the best warranty companies for the year was exceptionally thorough, involving in-depth research and our unique secret shopper initiative. We compiled over 50 data points across all reviewed companies to refine and inform our selection process. Car Talk reviewed the following important criteria for each company:
Consumer Satisfaction: Cross referencing multiple trusted resources to pull our fair and balanced customer reviews.
Cost: Utilizing our secret shopper initiative, we got comparable quotes across all companies so we can validly compare pricing.
Coverage and Offerings: Our research team delved into the coverage and offerings for each company, comparing what is available, including extras and discounts.
Official Ratings: We consulted a wide range of verified review sites to extrapolate a ratings score for each.
CarShield offers to pay for covered repairs to your vehicle for a set monthly fee. Your plan renews with each monthly payment. This makes it easy for you to depart from the plan, however, if you don’t pay the monthly premium you risk being dropped from the plan.
CarShield offers four plans in theory, but in practice, the cost is the same for each of the three plans. The CarShield service representative we spoke to informed us that the company doesn’t actually write new contracts for the lower tiered plans.
CarShield offers multiple levels of coverage, but as we mentioned above, there is no point in worrying about any but the top plan since they cost the same amount of money. CarShield says that its Diamond protection plan “Covers everything ranging from engine and transmission failures, to starter problems, and fuel pump breakdowns.”
This plan is similar to the bumper to bumper plan that your manufacturer offers, but not identical. Some items that are excluded include:
Most of what CarShield is excluding are wear items and items that have a life expectancy, but not all. Be sure that you read and understand section B of this Sample Contract Here before you agree to the plan.
|Common Repair||Avg Cost||Diamond Plan|
(*) Brake coverage does not include normal wear.
(**) Catalytic converters are covered under extended emissions warranties provided by every manufacturer. Check your state laws for details.
Our research of CarShiled uncovered some interesting aspects of its business model. One of the good things we discovered is that CarShield steers its customers away from contracts that only provide limited protection. If you press the CarShield folks on the phone they will offer you a very slightly lower cost for a substandard coverage policy. However in our discussions with the company they were very assertive about providing the downsides of a policy that may or may not help you if your car breaks down.
One other unique way CarShield conducts its business is that it uses a monthly payment payment structure. Instead of offering you one upfront price, which can be a big number, the company instead offers to cover your vehicle’s repair needs, as long as you pay the monthly contract premium.
CarShield’s policy also includes almost all of the breakdown benefits one gets from a AAA policy. We are fans of AAA, and its offerings go beyond roadside assistance. However, not everyone signs up and maintains a membership. If you have a CarShield policy you get roadside assistance and more as part of the monthly fee.
We found some serious warning signs when we researched CarShield. The information about the company from the Better Business Bureau was downright scary. The third-party reviews for CarShield we could find were primarily negative. Although we expect to see more folks fire off angry-grams than write love letters in reviews, what we found about CarShield was beyond typical.
CarShield is also pricey. $129 per month may not seem that unusual, but consider that earlier this year Chevy was leasing Bolts for $145 per month in our state. Hmm. A car under a factory warranty or just a warranty. Tough decision. Do the math on a CarShield policy for three years and you will find a total cost of $4,680. Keep the policy for five years and the cost is $7,800. You don’t have to be an MIT grad to know that is a lot of money to pay for repairs you may never need.
All of the plans offered by CarShield have a number of side benefits that you should be aware of before you purchase:
Since the CarShield representative we spoke to informed us that the company does not offer any meaningful difference in prices between plans, the Diamond Plan is the one the company offers.
|CarShield Plan||What is Covered|
The simple answer is that a CarShield plan costs $129.99 per month, on average.
That being said, their very basic, no frills plan begins at $99.99 per month. Your cost will vary greatly depending on the age and mileage of your car, and other factors that are specific to you.
The prices below were obtained by phoning CarShield’s free quote line at 1-800-974-9385. The representative we spoke to quoted us that price for a 2017 model year vehicle with 60,000 miles on the odometer at the time of the contract’s inception. Here is the list of vehicles we ran through with the representative:
|Vehicle*||Diamond Cost Per month||Platinum||Gold||Silver||Aluminum||Deductible|
The plan never expires as long as you continue to pay the monthly premium. The representative we spoke with told us that miles and years are unlimited.
Please note that CarShield does offer some discounts if you are a driver that falls into a specific category. These include:
The representative declined to offer the discount amounts, but said that it is not uncommon for the totality of discounts to bring a monthly contract price down to $100 per month.So be sure to ask your representative for the full listing of available discounts available to you.
CarShield pays the service provider directly. You do not need to file any paperwork. CarShield says that in order to have your vehicle repaired you simply need to take it to any dealership or any ASE certified repair facility in the United States or Canada. Claims are paid directly over the phone with a CarShield corporate credit card, so as long as your repair facility accepts credit cards, you should be fine.
Unlike most extended warranty plans, CarShield offers a pay-as-you-go plan. Since you have not paid in advance, you won’t be receiving a refund of any kind. You can cancel any time you wish by no longer paying for the plan each month.
That said, we would suggest that before you sign up for CarShield, ask the agent you speak with to point out the cancelation policy in the contract you are being sent. It would also be wise to contact CarShield’s customer service department at 1-800-587-4162 and give them formal notice you are opting out.
CarShield says that most cars, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs are eligible for a Carshield vehicle service plan. You will need to have the full maintenance records proving that the vehicle was maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, if you have modified your vehicle, be certain to discuss that with the agent you speak with. In addition to cars, CarShield offers motorcycle and RV plans.
CarShield lists 21 situations in which your plan would not cover you. They are listed in the contract under section D. Exclusions. Most of these are common sense. These include the following:
For a full listing, check your contract very closely. You should be reading through all the fine print, before you sign anything.
The reviews for CarShield vary widely. So make certain you are doing your research and comparing customer experiences before making any decisions.
CarShield has a solid 4.5-star Google Reviews rating. One recent positive CarShield review from a Google Local Guide reads, “I haven't had to use it yet. That is a blessing itself, but when it comes time to use it I'm covered bumper to bumper and I think it's a very good deal.”
A second reviewer wrote, “I am very happy with Car Shield. It was fast, accurate, professional all the way through.”
On Yelp, we found that CarShield earns a 1.0-out-of-5 star rating. That is down a half-star from 2021. The newest five pages of reviews posted showed the lowest possible rating of 1 star.
“Nightmare, scam, worst, beware,” and other descriptive words of this type gave us pause.
We like 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.
BBB advises consumers to use caution if considering doing business with CarShield, a vehicle service contract company. BBB received a pattern of consumer complaints alleging the company:
In April and December 2020, BBB contacted CarShield regarding how it planned to address ongoing patterns of complaints. The company stated, “CarShield works hard to provide excellent customer service to all consumers we encounter and to meet the demands and standards set forth by the BBB.” - BBB
BBB has received 2,544 complaints about CarShield in the last 3 years. Half of those were in the last 12 months alone.
Check our helpful infographic to help you decide if you need a vehicle service plan. There are two types of shoppers for whom a product like this is a good idea. The first is vehicle owners who can have their monthly budgets upset by a large and unplanned repair bill. The second case is a shopper who owns a vehicle they still love and wish to hang on to, but which has a poor track record of reliability. Our advice is to listen to CarSheild when they tell you that the Diamond Plan is the only one that makes sense. Paying a few dollars less per month for a plan that does not include the most common types of breakdowns seems like a way to be unhappy down the road.
Call now 1-855-534-1173 or get an online quote
Vehicle owners who would have their monthly budget upset by a large vehicle repair cost may find CarSheild a good value. Also, owners of vehicles with known problems may also benefit.
We hope our readers will look closely at the red flags Car Talk uncovered when researching the company’s ratings. The warning from BBB gives us pause. While their prices are quite reasonable, there might be a reason for that.
Our research shows that a plan typically costs buyers $129.99 per month, but that available discounts can drop that price to as low as $100 per month. The cost for your own coverage will vary depending on many factors, so make certain to get a quote that is specific to you.
CarShield states that they have low or no deductible, in most situations, so that the consumer can save money. But again, please check reviews and ratings and proceed with caution.
CarShield covers cars with up to 200,000 miles on them. This is one of the highest limits available. Most providers and third-party carriers stop coverage at 150,000.
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.
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