Guide to Extended Car Warranties in California

Guide to Extended Car Warranties in California

When your factory car warranty ends, you can usually add mechanical breakdown insurance, otherwise known as an extended warranty. Extended warranties can come from the vehicle manufacturer or third parties, but both options cover mechanical failures and possible defects.

Vehicles with a factory warranty from the car dealer and some extended warranties may also be covered under California Lemon Law protections. If there’s a defect with a qualifying car that cannot be repaired, you may be due compensation from the manufacturer or dealer.

If your vehicle has an unrepairable defect, call our California Lemon Law Attorney to learn more about your rights. You don’t need to fight a battle against the manufacturer alone. We’ve secured millions in compensation for our clients and are ready to work with you. Get your free Lemon Law Consultation to start the process.

Under California Lemon Law, you have legal recourse if you are driving an unrepairable car that’s covered by a warranty, but there are stipulations and guidelines that the vehicle must fall under. With so many confusing regulations and rules, it’s best to have a qualified lemon law attorney on your side, working with you to file a claim. The lawyer you choose could make the difference between you getting the maximum amount of compensation or nothing but a lemon car.

Understanding Extended Car Warranties in California

Understanding Extended Car Warranties in California

The extended car warranty offers protection beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. It kicks in after the manufacturer’s warranty expires and covers a range of components, depending on what plan you choose.

Some reasons to choose an extended car warranty include:

  • Saving money on unexpected repairs
  • Customizable options available
  • Adding resale value when transferable
  • Reducing worry for more peace of mind
  • Added perks that are often included

The biggest benefit of extended auto warranties is that you may not have to pay out of pocket for the covered repairs unless there’s a deductible involved. In some cases, dealerships get paid for warranty work directly, while other plans have the customer pay the shop and then receive the reimbursement.

California Lemon Law and Warranty Rules

A lemon vehicle is one that has unrepairable defects which can’t be worked out after a reasonable number of attempts. The claims must occur within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). To be eligible, vehicle defects must substantially impair its use, safety, or value.

In comparison, the factory warranty covers any defect or failure of the vehicle during its term. It doesn’t provide compensation for a lemon car, but it does help to weed out any problems covered in those early months of ownership. The original warranty or coverage from a third-party company alleviates the chances of surprise repair bills, but it does nothing to prevent mechanical failure from occurring.

For a lemon law claim to be valid, the car must have been covered under a warranty. In most cases, it’s the manufacturer’s warranty on a new vehicle that’s in place, but it can also be a Certified Pre-Owned warranty or extended warranty coverage in some circumstances, depending on what types of issues are occurring.

There are many types of problems covered by Lemon Law. In fact, any defect that substantially impairs the vehicle’s use, value or safety is covered. Therefore, engine failure is treated the same as a fuel system malfunction or glitches in the electrical systems. Lemon Law also covers other expenses associated with the defect, such as towing bills or if a rental car was needed. When you file a lemon law claim with an experienced attorney, all of these costs can be recouped in some circumstances.

The question always comes down to – how much does a lemon law attorney cost? Every lemon law lawyer sets their own rates for services, but our experienced firm doesn’t believe in getting paid until you do. We also charge nothing for the initial lemon law consultation, so you don’t have to worry about paying anything upfront.  

Why Consider an Extended Car Warranty in California?

Why Consider an Extended Car Warranty in California?

California is the most expensive state for car repairs across the country. There’s no question that drivers spend a lot more on surprise repairs in this state, especially with all the time spent on the road. With more than 386,000 miles of roadway in California, the cars tend to have higher than average mileage on them, leading to more wear and tear, but an extended car warranty can help alleviate some of the financial burdens.

With the right extended car warranty, Californians can keep their vehicle longer, getting more use of it so it provides a better value. Some extended warranty plans are also transferable, making it a good selling feature when it comes time to get top dollar for it.

Legal Framework for Extended Warranties in California

California has a Vehicle Service Contract Law known as the VSC Law. This state law requires vehicle service contract providers to be licensed through the California Department of Insurance (DOI) and comply with regulations that ensure consumer protection.

For starters, all providers must offer consumers detailed information regarding all terms and conditions of the contract before it’s purchased. This information may include the covered components, deductibles, all exclusions, claim procedures, limitations and cancellation rights. In California, the consumer has the right to cancel the VSC within a set timeframe after the purchase, typically between ten and thirty days. During this time, the customer can cancel and get a full refund of the purchase.

Additionally, a California Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights requires all licensed dealers to provide a detailed report of financial items, such as insurance and warranties. Through these guidelines, the dealer cannot misrepresent the benefits or terms of the warranty. The dealer is also not allowed to pressure the consumer into purchasing any warranty. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for oversight and enforcing compliance. Additionally, the California DMV can take its own legal action if these guidelines are violated.

If that wasn’t enough protection, the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) gets involved with warranty disputes. Consumers can file a complaint through the DCA for warranty fraud, unfair warranty practices or the failure to honor warranty obligations.

Key Features to Look for in an Extended Warranty

Key Features to Look for in an Extended Warranty

If you believe that an extended warranty is a good protection in your situation, you want to shop for the best provider, which differs depending on your needs. Here are a few considerations to think about:

  • Coverage Options: You have to start with your vehicle type, mileage and age. Not all providers cover the same types of vehicles.
  • Plan Type: The next question to ask is – what does the extended car warranty cover? Warranties are available across different tiers, such as comprehensive, which serves as a bumper-to-bumper type of warranty or for major components or systems, such as powertrain protection.
  • Term Length: Car warranties cover vehicles for varying lengths of time. The longer the warranty term is, the more protection you have, but it also increases the cost, so you have to decide what’s best for your budget and situation.
  • Mileage Limitations: Warranty providers may put a mileage limitation on the warranty, so you need to choose one that fits your driving habits.
  • Deductibles: The warranty cost may be lower if you have a higher deductible, but that won’t help you if you don’t have the money ready for a surprise repair.
  • Transferability: If you plan to sell the vehicle in the future, you may want a transferable warranty as a selling feature. Used cars with a warranty are more attractive to buyers.
  • Additional Benefits: Many companies provide further perks with the coverage, such as trip interruption coverage, rental car reimbursement and roadside assistance.
  • Nationwide Coverage: If you plan to drive outside of the state, you want coverage allowing for repairs at service centers and car dealers nationwide.
  • Reputation and Reliability: It’s important to research the reliability and reputation of the extended warranty provider. They need to have a good track record for customer service and financial stability.

Don’t rush the shopping process because it’s essential that you understand all of the exclusions and limitations of the plan. Pay careful attention to the components that aren’t covered by the warranty and avoid doing anything, such as modifications, that may void your coverage.

Top Providers of Extended Warranties in California

Based on reviews from MarketWatch, mechanical breakdown insurance in California is best through Endurance. As a direct provider to the consumer and a hassle-free claims process, Endurance continues to earn a high customer satisfaction rate. There are also three tier options available to California residents with several add-ons available, such as emissions coverage and lift kit protection.

Olive is another company that stands out for an extended vehicle warranty, due to its transparent plan options and reputation. Mechanical breakdown plans come in several levels, allowing you to choose what’s best for the vehicle’s needs and your budget.

A third option is Carchex, but these plans must be purchased through qualifying dealerships. With its A+ rating through the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and partnership with Kelley Blue Book (KBB), it might be a plan worth talking to the dealer about.

Why Is It So Hard To Get a Car Warranty in California?

California supplies strict and very specific laws surrounding extended warranties. These laws regulate who is allowed to sell extended warranties, what the contracts look like and how they may be represented.

It’s essential to note that consumers can purchase either a vehicle service contract or mechanical breakdown insurance, but the two are very different. Starting with the VSC, prices aren’t regulated, but only a licensed car dealership can sell the plans.

Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) is more similar to extended car warranty coverage, covering the costs of repairs from a breakdown caused by defects. These plans are regulated by the Department of Insurance Laws and can be purchased from licensed insurance companies, the provider itself, credit unions and banks. For this reason, you may want to discuss your needs with your licensed insurance company at the same time you get liability and comprehensive coverage.

To avoid being scammed or choosing an untrustworthy provider, consider these tips:

  • Research the company carefully before doing business with them. Use tools such as and online reviews to learn more.
  • Don’t ever give out your personal information to a spam caller or disreputable company.
  • Ask for a written copy of the warranty agreement. If you aren’t sure that it’s legitimate, have a lawyer review it before signing.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into signing anything. If needed, take a day or two to consider the coverage before signing.

How to Evaluate and Choose the Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Plan

How to Evaluate and Choose the Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Plan

As you evaluate the providers offering the best extended warranties, you need to give special consideration to your vehicle’s needs. As discussed briefly before, you wouldn’t want to choose powertrain-only coverage if you want the whole vehicle protected. In the same regard, paying for three years of protection may not make sense if you only plan to keep the vehicle for a short time.

It’s always our recommendation to discuss your needs with a licensed dealer or insurance agent who would be able to guide you better. You should also read through customer reviews to get a feel for how other car owners have been treated.

Costs and Financing of an Extended Car Warranty (California)

On average, the total cost for extended warranty protection may be around $3,000. The costs depend on the type of vehicle you drive, its mileage, the coverage protection you need and the length of the agreement.

Sometimes, you can finance the warranty cost to make it easier to afford. When purchasing a VSC through a dealer, the cost can often be rolled into the car’s monthly payments. Mechanical breakdown insurance plans may also be financed, so it’s something to ask about.

The biggest question should be whether an extended warranty is right for you. If one trip to the repair shop would be detrimental to your financial standing, it may be best to put coverage in place. Otherwise, skipping the additional coverage could also be an option if you can afford to pay for the repairs out of pocket. Beyond that, if you drive a reliable car which is newer, the chances of an expensive repair bill are much lower, so it might not make sense to spend $3,000 on a plan you may never use.

Additional Protections Under a Vehicle Service Contract

Lemon law protections are available if a defect cannot be repaired. It allows you to get a replacement vehicle or cash reimbursement when your vehicle doesn’t provide the function it was supposed to. On the other hand, the extended warranty is going to protect you from normal mechanical breakdowns that occur over the life of a vehicle.

To get the most out of the vehicle service contracts or mechanical breakdown insurance, you should familiarize yourself with all of the terms and conditions. It’s also vital to keep thorough records of the car’s maintenance and repair history because this documentation may be needed when filing a claim. You also want to use the additional benefits if they are available. Don’t forget that you may have roadside assistance protection, trip interruption coverage and rental car reimbursement as part of your plan.

Following the factory maintenance schedule is one of the most important things you can do for your vehicle. By getting regular oil changes and keeping up to date on service, you prevent mechanical breakdowns and headaches in the future.


We cannot stress enough how important it is to understand both your extended warranty coverage and California lemon laws. Both of these are going to provide you protection if your car has defects and you want to do everything possible to protect your precious investment.

If your car has an unrepairable defect, consult a lemon car lawyer in California today. Time is the enemy when it comes to filing a lemon law claim, so you don’t want to wait. Our experienced team of lemon law professionals knows how to get compensation for problems of all severities. We’ve helped more than 5,000 other drivers get the resolution they needed and we are ready to help you next. Schedule your free Lemon Law Consultation to see what you are entitled to.

Whether you are trying to determine if a lemon law claim is right for your situation or you are in the middle of the process, it’s good to have experts on your side. We can file the demand letter, guide you through arbitration, and help you negotiate. We will also go to court with you if needed.

When you work with our Lemon Law Attorney Practice in Beverly Hills, you never have to navigate the journey alone.

Call us today for a free consultation before time runs out to pursue your claim.

Phone: (800) 917-7147


Why Choose The Lemon Pros?

Our specialty is Lemon Law, that is why we only handle Lemon Law claims. When you hire us, our attorneys will do all the legal work for you, because we understand the stress that consumers like you deal with when they have a Lemon.

We have an excellent success record in representing consumers just like you! We are award winning attorneys, but that has not gotten to our heads. We are attorneys who care and give personalized attention to each and every client, our attorneys directly handle your claim.

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