CarShield Review: A Detailed Look at How It Works, Cost, and More

By Zina Kumok
Updated on: Mar 26, 2020

Extended warranty policies always sound great on paper. Much like insurance, you pay a set monthly fee in exchange for some peace of mind. If an emergency happens and your car needs major repairs, the extended warranty would, in theory, cover all the costs.

But how often do those emergencies actually crop up? As it turns out, not as often as extended warranty companies would like you to think.

A 2013 survey from Consumer Reports found that “55 percent of owners who purchased an extended warranty hadn’t used it for repairs during the lifetime of the policy, even though the median price paid for the coverage was just over $1,200. And, on average, those who did use it spent hundreds more for the coverage than they saved in repair costs.”

To examine the issue a little more closely, we took a look st CarShield, one of the most popular providers of extended warranty coverage. Here’s what we found.

How CarShield Works

CarShield provides extended warranties for cars when the original warranty has expired or when the owner wants to buy additional coverage.

If the car needs a repair, they take the car to a CarShield-authorized mechanic who will contact CarShield, verify the policy and start work on the car. CarShield will pay the mechanic directly, so customers don’t have to pay for the repairs and then wait to be reimbursed.

There’s no annual contract with CarShield; users can sign up and cancel anytime. Payments are made on a monthly basis.

Rates depend on the car’s make, model, year, mileage and location. There are also six different tiers of coverage which will affect the price. CarShield does not provide rates online.

On top of the monthly fee, you’ll still owe a copay every time you take the car in, generally around $100.

Every CarShield warranty has a 20-day and 500-mile waiting period, meaning that you have to wait 20 days and 500 miles after purchasing a policy for the coverage to kick in. This is to prevent someone who just found out their car needs a new engine from buying a policy and filing a claim immediately.

Customer reviews for CarShield vary. The company has a 3.8-star rating here on HighYa based on over 260 reviews, as well as a 4.1-star rating on Trustpilot with more than 6,000 reviews.

While that may sound respectable, they have an F rating from the Better Business Bureau with 630 complaints in the past three years. The BBB even has a warning for customers interested in CarShield, stating that there is a record of CarShield having “misleading sales and advertising practices,” including not covering repairs that should be under warranty.

CarShield has six service tiers with varying levels of coverage. All tiers cover towing and rental car reimbursement, and many have complimentary roadside assistance as well.

When you call CarShield for a quote, they’ll tell you which coverage level you qualify for. The price difference between levels may be minimal, around $10 or so, but not every car will qualify for each tier.

Getting a Quote

To get a quote, you have to submit some basic information about the car and wait for a phone call from a CarShield representative. It can be frustrating to not get a quote instantly or in an email.

Like some financial service companies, CarShield’s reps can be aggressive if you request a quote and don’t sign up right away. I sent information about my car and had two missed calls from them within two hours. They’ve called about once a day since then.

When I did call back, I was quickly connected to a sales rep who said my 2016 Toyota Camry with 51,000 miles qualified for the highest coverage possible. The diamond level covers the engine, transmission, drive axle, steering, suspension, computer, and electrical systems.

Initially, he said the rate would be $129.99 a month. Because it was my first time calling, the rep said he could knock it down to $109.99 a month. I told him I wanted to discuss the policy with my husband, and then he offered to decrease the cost to $99 a month.

I repeated that I’d have to talk with my husband and call back, and he offered to wait on hold while I did that. I told him that I would prefer to call back, and he became slightly irritated. Overall, it was a pushy experience.

Even with the highest-level policy, I would still be responsible for general wear-and-tear including oil changes, brake pads, and new batteries. The policy has a $100 co-pay for every repair. While the representative argued that paying $100 would be cheaper than a new engine or starter, this would still be a significant expense for such an expensive policy.

When I called back a few hours later with more questions, I spoke with a new rep who said he could offer me an employee discount for $89.99. As I tried to get off the phone, he told me his manager authorized him to offer me a policy of $79.99.

Finding a Mechanic

Like other extended warranty companies, CarShield requires you to use a certified mechanic when you submit a claim. You can go here to see if your current mechanic would be covered under a CarShield plan.

When I went to the CarShield website to see which mechanics would be covered, I couldn’t find any within a 10-mile radius. I called CarShield, and they claimed to work with any ASE-certified mechanic.

I then called my mechanic, who said he is ASE-certified but doesn’t work with CarShield because of delayed payment issues on their end.

Use a Sinking Fund Instead

Given CarShield’s high rates and frequent customer service complaints, you’re better off saving for car repairs yourself without relying on an extended warranty company.

The CarShield rep I spoke with quoted me $99 a month, which comes out to $1,188 a year.

RepairPal.com says a 2016 Toyota Camry will have an annual repair cost of $365. That will likely increase as the car gets older, but it still means a CarShield policy will cost three times more than what I’m likely to pay in a year.

Instead of relying on CarShield or another extended warranty company, consider starting a sinking fund for car expenses.

A sinking fund is a savings fund for a specific goal or future expense. In this case, the sinking fund will be exclusively for car maintenance and repairs. The fund should be held in a savings account, separate from an emergency fund.

High-yield savings account with an interest rate between 1.5 to 2% is your best bet, because the savings will earn interest to help combat inflation.

Instead of paying CarShield a premium every month, you’ll set money aside in your sinking fund. You can set up automatic transfers so you don’t have to manually move it from a checking to a savings account.

A sinking fund, unlike an extended warranty, has no restrictions or limits. You can put the money toward any repair or maintenance cost with any mechanic.

The downside of a sinking fund is that you’re completely responsible for the money. If you feel like spending it on a trip to Vegas or a new TV, there’s nothing stopping you. If you have trouble resisting temptation, a sinking fund may be more of a burden than a boon.

Another drawback to a sinking fund is that it may take a while to accrue enough money to pay for any major repairs.

If you have a CarShield powertrain warranty and your transmission dies, the warranty will pay for a new transmission right away. If you only have a $200 sinking fund when your transmission dies, you won’t have enough to replace it.

Most mechanics don’t offer a payment plan, so your only option would be to put the funds on a credit card, borrow money from another source or raid another savings account. Obviously, none of these are great options.

The Bottom Line

Car owners interested in the towing and roadside assistance that CarShield provides can look elsewhere for this benefit.

Many credit card providers offer this as a complimentary benefit to cardholders, and a AAA membership costs between $30 to $100 a year, depending on the membership and location. That’s generally less than the cost for one month of CarShield.

An extended warranty is often a poor financial decision. Instead of paying for CarShield, you’re better off taking that money and saving it yourself. If you save consistently, you’ll have enough to cover all the necessary repairs.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of CarShield:
  • 272 Customer Reviews
  • 71% Recommend This Company
3.8 out of 5
5 star: 59% 4 star: 8% 3 star: 4% 2 star: 1% 1 star: 25%

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  • Still waiting

    • By John M.,
    • Charleston, SC,
    • Jul 8, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 6–12 months
    Overall Experience:

    I put the claim in ten days ago and am still driving a rental car. We (me and my repair shop) have done everything they asked and still no response. You call and every day no matter what time of day they are experiencing higher than normal call volume. I suggest they add a few employees!

    So much for listening to Glen Beck!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Annoyed!

    • By Rno D.,
    • Jersey City, NJ,
    • Jul 5, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 2+ years
    Overall Experience:

    Brought my vehicle to the dealership and was told my coverage was denied because every other part was covered except that particular part, other problems were diagnosed and still denied. And I’m supposed to have a platinum level policy? I’ll be paying over $4K for my repairs, what a scam!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Jul 8, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hello,

      Sorry to hear we could not help out on your repairs. We have helped tons of customers save over $1 billion on repairs. The repairs must be listed for coverage on your policy, however.


  • They lie to get you to purchase a plan

    • By Dyvonia J.,
    • St. Louis, MO,
    • Jul 2, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 3–6 months
    Overall Experience:

    I feel like I was lied to when the salesperson was presenting this service to me. I was told every major repair under my hood would be covered with the Gold level coverage. The only thing that was not covered with this plan would be regular routine maintenance (oil changes, tires, brakes). The very FIRST TIME I needed to use CarShield for a repair, for a non-routine maintenance repair, the claim was denied. I am canceling my contract and NO, I will not recommend CarShield to anyone.

    Pros and Cons:

    • No “pros” were specified in this review
    • Lied about the coverage
    • I did not receive the list of covered repairs with my contract, only got the list after they denied my very first claim
    • Waste of money

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Jul 8, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Dyvonia,

      Our reps cannot say everything under the hood is covered and would lose their license if they said so. We will review this call to confirm. Perhaps there may have been confusion about your policy, and for that, we are sorry.


  • CarShield is horrible

    • By Lewis S.,
    • Brooklyn, NY,
    • Jun 21, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 2+ years
    Overall Experience:

    I had a horrible experience with the CarShield inspector that came to inspect my car and gave a misleading report or lied. It contradicts with my mechanic's conclusion. So I asked them to send another inspector but the answer is a flat NO.

    Pros and Cons:

    • No “pros” were specified in this review
    • Never cover claims
    • Make up excuses

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Jun 22, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Lewis,

      I am unable to pull up specifics of your account, but sorry to hear there was a discrepancy about this. We have helped our customers save over $1 billion on admin repairs and we wish we could've helped you, too.


  • Lack of pro-rating payment.

    • By Gary K.,
    • Olive Branch, MS,
    • Apr 18, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Kind of disappointed in CarShield. I just made a payment 3 days before I traded off my pickup. I don’t understand why there is no reimbursement for 27 days for a pickup truck that I traded for another vehicle. This lack of pro-rating will probably not be a good thing when I talk to my friends about CarShield extended warranty coverage. For this same reason, I will probably purchase an extended warranty from General Motors. I really don’t understand the lack of pro-rating. You are kind of controlling when I would trade off my pickup truck. Less than impressed with CarShield.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 24, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Gary,

      Unfortunately, people can say they traded their vehicle at any point in the contract so we have to stand firm with what is written in our contract, which is: refunds are only due in the first 30 days of signing up. We do apologize for the inconvenience and do hope you consider us for coverage on your next vehicle.


  • A scam to the lowest form

    • By Burt G.,
    • Minneapolis, MN,
    • Apr 1, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    This such a scam. I put my car in a shop with their permission or their preauthorization for repairs. After that, 3 hours later a call came in that the fuel pump wasn’t covered, it was my floater on my pump that gives my car an inaccurate reading, so now I’m stuck with a rental car and a diagnostic and my repairs but CarShield and America Auto, now this is my out-of-pocket cost. Trust me, it’s not what it appears to be, the apple can look good on the outside but there could be a worm on the inside, be careful. I’m filing charges to get my money back and to report to BBB and the Attorney General and anyone else that listens to me, but be careful. Would I recommend this to anyone else? Heck no.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 2, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Burt,

      There is no way to know what the cause of failure is without a diagnostic test. We pay for that if the part that failed is listed for coverage. We are sorry to hear there was confusion about this. Please review your contract and give us a call with any questions you may have.


  • Not happy

    • By Hardy D.,
    • Colorado,
    • Mar 31, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I put my car into the shop on the 13th of March 2020, I'm still waiting to get my car approved by United Car Care of Greenwood Village, CO. I have paid out of pocket $200 and I'm still waiting to get my car fixed.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 1, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Hardy,

      Sorry to hear this is taking longer than normal. We recommend reaching out to United Car Care for an update on the status.


  • Good people to talk to, upset with the terms I encountered.

    • By Richard F.,
    • Flanders, NJ,
    • Mar 18, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    First attempt at a transaction. The people were very nice but they did not cover my situation. Very upsetting. I read the policy. This part leaves something open. I feel they should have paid a portion.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Mar 19, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Richard,

      It is always unfortunate when a needed repair is not covered under the policy. If you have any questions about your policy or your recent claim, please contact us.


  • Friendly girls who were quick to answer my questions.

    • By Deloros B.,
    • Ontario, Canada,
    • Mar 17, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Very helpful and the transaction was completed quickly and friendly.

    I would certainly recommend your program to my friends and relatives.

    The program gives me the confidence that I know I would be looked after financially if I should have an accident. This is truly a great service for seniors on a limited income who might have an accident and would possibly leave them with no way to get around.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Mar 19, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Delores,

      We're happy to help! Let us know if you need anything else.


  • Be sure you are clear

    • By Dennis D.,
    • Sierra Vista, AZ,
    • Mar 4, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    When contracting with this company, be very clear as to the date you want the payments taken from your financial institution.

    This company will take it out the date you agree to the coverage.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Mar 5, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Dennis,

      Thanks for the review. Yes, you can let us know when you'd like the payment to be made each month. We are always happy and willing to work around what works best for you!


  • Fuel pump

    • By Gregory R.,
    • Lakewood, CO,
    • Feb 26, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    On Saturday the 22nd, my car wouldn't start at my work and I had it towed to the Firestone mechanic. They discovered it was a bad fuel pump. Called CarShield and claims were closed. Going to call back on the 24th to see if it is covered.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Feb 27, 2020

      Company Response from CarShield, LLC

      Hi Gregory,

      It looks like the claim is approved for $506! We're happy to help!


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