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Warranty Comparison: Endurance vs. Carefree Auto

BY: Chris Brown
Girl embracing her busy mother who is looking at paperwork

Owning a car is like owning freedom, but unfortunately, that freedom doesn’t come cheap. With the average annual cost of maintenance and repairs recently boiling over $12,000, it really isn’t a surprise that drivers across America are searching for ways to keep more money in their pockets.

Preventative maintenance is a good start, but no matter how well you care for your car’s components, it’s unfortunate that they will all fail eventually. When the worst inevitably happens, an extended warranty (more accurately known as a vehicle service contract) can be a lifesaver. However, there are plenty of warranty providers to choose from, and picking between them can be tough.

To help you out, our ongoing comparison series puts two of the leading names in vehicle service contracts (VSCs) head to head to see who comes out on top. Here, we’ll be comparing Endurance with Carefree Auto so that you can make the best decision for your vehicle.

What Is an Extended Warranty, and Why Do You Need One?

In the simplest possible terms, an extended auto warranty or auto protection plan is one of the best ways to save money on the cost of car ownership. But to help you understand how and why, we need to go all the way back to the beginning.

Whatever the automaker, every brand-new vehicle comes with what’s known as a factory warranty or a manufacturer warranty. This effectively promises to repair or replace any components that fail due to fault within a predetermined number of years or miles traveled (whichever comes first). How long this lasts will completely depend on your manufacturer, but there’s at least one thing all factory warranties have in common: once they expire, the owner must pay any future repair bills.

To continue enjoying the coverage you’re used to, there are two routes you can go down. The first is a more traditional extended warranty, which you can usually purchase via your manufacturer or dealership. This does exactly what you’d expect: extending your factory warranty beyond its expiration date.

There are some major downsides to this type of warranty coverage, however. For example, all repairs must be carried out at an authorized dealership (not ideal if you break down hundreds of miles from one), and you can only purchase an extended warranty while your factory warranty is still active. Leave it one day late, and you may no longer qualify for coverage.

As a result, most people prefer the second route, which is a vehicle service contract (VSC) from a third-party provider. Third-party providers are incentivized to offer almost like-for-like coverage at an even better price point, often throwing in useful added perks to sweeten the deal.

Vehicle service contracts can also be purchased regardless of factory warranty status, which is great news for used car owners. If that wasn’t enough, vehicle service contracts also allow you to have work carried out at the certified mechanic of your choice.

While we’re here, it’s also worth pointing out that an extended warranty (or vehicle service contract) and auto insurance aren’t the same. Sure, they both save you money, but in very different ways.

An extended warranty/vehicle service contract is designed to save money on repair bills incurred due to component failure, while auto insurance protects you from repairs incurred due to a collision or other such incident. Having both is like the ultimate armor for your finances, so it’s highly recommended to take each out if possible.

Endurance vs. Carefree Auto: Company Overviews

So, now you know why extended warranties are a must for any driver; it’s time for us to find out more about the companies in question.

Endurance Warranty Background

Established almost two decades ago, Endurance is one of America’s most popular vehicle service contract providers. In that time, we’ve protected thousands of drivers from the cost of unexpected component failure, paying out hundreds of millions in claims and saving them serious money.

We offer extensive protection programs designed for an even wider range of vehicle owners, with unrivaled flexibility, eligibility, and affordability. Pricing starts at just $99 per month, and our 30-day free-look period gives you all the time you need to be sure you’ve chosen the right package for your individual needs and budget.

The goodness doesn’t stop at great coverage. Our plans include great benefits, including 24/7 roadside assistance, towing, lockout services, travel interruption costs, and replacement travel reimbursement. If that wasn’t enough, every new Endurance customer gets a year’s free access to our Elite Benefits package, adding on complete tire repair, total loss protection, and more. Just pay a $29 activation fee, and it’s all yours.

We’re also the direct administrator of most of our plans, cutting out the pesky middleman during the claims process. And, you can choose any ASE Certified mechanic or auto shop to work on your covered repairs.

The award-winning Endurance customer service team is available to answer any questions whenever they arise, or you can access all of the most important contract information in just a few taps with the handy Endurance Mobile app.

Finally, if you sell your car, Endurance plans are also fully transferable, putting future owners at ease and potentially raising your vehicle’s value.

Carefree Auto Background

Carefree Auto is an extended car warranty service from Gallagher Affinity Insurance Services Inc. Founded in 1963, the brand has been around for quite some time and offers just one blanket plan at $24.95 per month. Despite being so established, their Better Business Bureau page doesn’t paint the best picture, with a B grade and only one out of five stars from customer reviews.

What’s immediately apparent from the Carefree Auto website is that they’re behind in terms of tech. The design looks dated, and the information is scarce on the ground. Their one-plan approach, including repair reimbursement, maintenance savings, tire protection, and more, is fairly unusual for the industry. Purchasing protection automatically covers every vehicle you own, but (as you may have guessed from the price), the level of coverage is much lower than most other VSCs.

Auto Protection Plans and Coverage Options

Endurance offers a variety of customizable coverage plans with different drivers in mind, while Carefree Auto offers just one vehicle protection program:

Endurance Warranty Plans

  1. Supreme – Look no further than our Supreme plan for all-inclusive coverage that’s as close to a factory warranty as you’re likely to find. It covers almost every part, component, and system in your vehicle, including seals, gaskets, and more advanced components. When you see other providers offering Titanium or Diamond plans, you can be confident that Supreme is at least as good, if not better.
  2. Supreme For Highline Vehicles – Luxury cars are the dream vehicle for many, but while they might look great, their reliability is often lacking. This can lead to some hefty repair bills, but Supreme For Highline Vehicles is specifically designed to protect luxury vehicles under 80,000 miles on the clock and under eight years of age.
  3. Superior – Another comprehensive plan from Endurance, Superior, isn’t quite as all-encompassing as Supreme but still covers a wide array of stated parts and components. It’s the ideal option for anyone who relies on their vehicle for commuting or those who enjoy a road trip a few times a year.
  4. Select Premier – We pride ourselves on our unrivaled eligibility, and Select Premier is just one example. Covering a high-mileage vehicle can be tough, but this protection plan was created specifically for older cars with up to 150,000 miles on the clock. It covers the more important engine components, transmission, and drive axle assembly components, as well as your cooling system, fuel system, and select air conditioning and electrical parts.
  5. Secure – Secure is the most appropriate plan if you’re only looking for the basic level of coverage. It protects all the essential powertrain components that keep your vehicle moving, such as your engine, transmission, air conditioning, and more.
  6. Secure Plus – Secure Plus provides the best protection for older vehicles and includes everything from the Secure plan and then some. The additional protected components include brakes, air conditioning, steering, and select electrical parts.
  7. Advantage – Advantage is a maintenance plan, offering three different tiers, that provides nearly unparalleled coverage when a component lets you down. It’s also the only protection plan on the market to include up to $3,500 in routine maintenance expenses, like oil changes or wiper blade replacements, ensuring your vehicle is in top-running condition and saving you even more money on the cost of car ownership.

Carefree Auto Plans

Unusually, Carefree Auto doesn’t have typical vehicle service contracts. Instead, you can pay $24.95 per month to receive a membership card that grants you:

  1. Repair Reimbursement – If you need a mechanical or electrical repair, with Carefree Auto, you can take your car to any licensed repair facility and receive a check for 30% of the cost. This requires you to pay for the repairs and only covers up to $500 per occurrence (up to $1,000 annually).
  2. Maintenance Savings – As well as savings on repairs, you also get up to 20% off oil changes, transmission repairs, brake services, new tires, or parts at thousands of participating automotive repair shops, service centers, and dealers.
  3. Tire and Wheel Protection – Members can get up to $25 per flat repair (up to 2 flat tires annually). They also receive $150 for tire replacement per membership year.

Other Provider Benefits

It’s common for vehicle service contract providers to offer added benefits. Endurance and Carefree Auto are certainly no exception:

Endurance Extras

  • 24/7 roadside assistance: Your car breaking down is bad enough, so we don’t want you stuck at the roadside, too. We offer 24/7 roadside assistance with all our plans to ensure you’re looked after – and this includes lockout services, fuel delivery, and towing.
  • Trip interruption coverage: Extra expenses add insult to injury if you have car troubles far from home. To mitigate the inconvenience as much as possible, trip interruption costs are covered as standard.
  • Replacement travel reimbursement: It’s our job to get you back on the road again as soon as possible. When more complex repairs keep your car in the auto shop longer than expected, we’ll cover a rental car and replacement travel.
  • Maintenance costs: Our Advantage plan is the only one on the market to cover $3,500 in annual maintenance costs, saving you even more on the cost of ownership.
  • Varying deductibles: Choose a deductible price that works for you – anywhere from $0 to $500.
  • Elite Benefits package: A year’s access to our Endurance Elite Benefits can be activated for all new Endurance customers, adding complete tire coverage, total loss protection, key fob replacement, and more. (A small $29 activation fee applies.)

Carefree Auto Extras

  • Roadside assistance: Carefree Auto also offers roadside assistance, with a coverage cap of $100 per occurrence up to three times yearly.
  • Rental car discounts: Rather than straight-up replacement travel reimbursement, Carefree Auto membership gets you up to 25% off rental cars at specific participating locations.
  • Carefree auto experts: If you’re unsure whether a repair really needs doing or if you think an auto shop might be overcharging, the My Auto Expert hotline from Carefree Auto puts you in contact with ASE Certified Automotive Technicians for an unbiased second opinion.

Endurance vs. Carefree Auto: Final Pros and Cons

Finally, to wrap things up, let’s weigh up the pros and cons of each provider:

Endurance Warranty pros:

  • Most trusted vehicle service contract provider in the U.S.
  • Administrator of most of our plans
  • Unrivaled eligibility, flexibility, and affordability
  • Award-winning customer service
  • Market-leading benefits
  • Transferable coverage
  • Helpful mobile app

Endurance Warranty cons:

  • Elite Benefits offered, but with a small activation fee

Carefree Auto pros:

  • Established provider
  • Low monthly cost
  • Range of savings
  • Access to automotive experts for second opinions on repairs
  • One card covers all owned vehicles

Carefree Auto cons:

  • Very low coverage cap across the board
  • Limited benefits
  • Lower BBB rating
  • Most services are only available at specific participating outlets

Get the Best Coverage with Endurance

When it comes to total driving confidence, there really is no competition. Wherever you go online, industry experts agree that Endurance is your top choice for a vehicle protection plan. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, we also have thousands of five-star reviews from happy customers on sites like Trustpilot and Google.

To learn more about what we can do to protect your vehicle (and wallet), call our award-winning customer service team at (800) 253-8203 to request a FREE quote. You can also shop online to see your price now!

If you’d like to keep reading about all things automotive, head over to our extended warranty blog. You will find more warranty provider comparisons with CARCHEX and CarShield, expert DIY tips, bumper-to-bumper warranty FAQs, and more.

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