What Is a Care Car Maintenance Plan?

Learn how these plans can help protect your vehicle

Proper maintenance is key to preserving your vehicle’s value. Oil changes, tire rotations and fluid refills are mandatory if you want to keep your car in good shape, but the cost and hassle of these services lead many people to delay critical car care.

Prepaid car maintenance plans cover the costs of vehicle upkeep, helping you avoid future malfunctions and breakdowns. Keep reading to learn about vehicle maintenance plans, how they work and how to choose one.


How does a car maintenance plan work?

You can generally purchase a maintenance plan from your local car dealership or the automaker itself. If you get a maintenance plan from your local dealership, expect your plan to only pay for service from that particular dealership. However, when you get a plan from the automaker, you can usually take your car to any dealership for that brand.

When you purchase a prepaid car maintenance plan, the cost is usually added onto your monthly loan payment, assuming you have one. The cost of a maintenance plan often depends on its duration, given in terms of time and mileage. For instance, a plan might cover scheduled maintenance costs for up to two years or 45,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Prepaid car maintenance plans are often confused with extended car warranties, but there are significant differences. Although both types of coverage are usually limited by time and mileage, they cover different things:

Prepaid car maintenance plans generally only cover services and parts that are part of your vehicle’s factory maintenance schedule, like oil changes, filter replacements and inspections.
On the other hand, warranties cover vehicle repairs necessary due to malfunctioning or broken parts, such as engine work or transmission fixes.

What you should know before purchasing a car maintenance plan

Before committing to a maintenance plan, weigh the pros and cons of a maintenance plan and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you have room in your monthly budget?
  2. Do you like the idea of paying a little every month to make maintenance more convenient or can you handle paying out-of-pocket?
  3. Do you want a plan through your local dealership or do you need to have service available at multiple locations?
  4. Do you plan on keeping your car long enough to enjoy your maintenance plan?
  5. How long do you need your maintenance plan to last?

Once you know what you want, it’s easier to eliminate bad options and find a maintenance plan that’s right for you.


What does a car maintenance plan cover?

Proper maintenance should protect you against many significant car problems, and prepaid maintenance plans help cover the cost of keeping up with your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, including:

  • Oil changes
  • Filter changes
  • Tire rotations
  • Fluid replacement

Note that this doesn’t cover repairs due to malfunctions (that’s what a warranty is for), accident damage (that’s what car insurance is for) or wear and tear. Components that wear down with regular use include tires, windshield wipers and brake pads, and replacing these components isn’t covered under most prepaid maintenance plans.


Care For Cars Program

Reliable transportation has consistently been a barrier for PRC neighbors to improve their situations, secure employment and to care for their families. In DuPage County, public transportation options are limited by schedule and location. Families and individuals are highly reliant on access to working vehicles to take care of their needs.

Care for Cars is a program of People’s Resource Center in partnership with the private sector, working together to provide affordable car repair for low income residents in order to conduct job searches or retain employment.


Who can use Care for Cars Program?

You must live in DuPage County. You’ll also need to be registered as a PRC Client. Case workers and job coaches from social service agencies can refer clients to the program. If you are already a PRC client, you can contact the PRC social services team to see if you are eligible.

How to Get Started

If you are a PRC client who is currently employed or working with a job coach you can contact us directly to request assistance from the PRC Care for Cars Program, please call 630-682-5402, extension 323 or send an email to and leave a message with your name, phone number, and a short explanation of your situation. You will receive a response from a volunteer or staff member.

If you are not a PRC client, and need a car repair, you must be referred by a case worker or job coach from a partner agency. All individuals that are referred must be in an active job search with a partner agency or currently employed.

What to Expect

You will be contacted by a member of our social services team after we receive a referral from a partner agency or a message from you directly. An initial screening will be completed to determine if your request matches the program requirements.

If you pass the initial screening, you will complete an application with a staff member, including the submission of required documents. The application process may take several days since repairs are performed based on the number of pending applications and mechanic availability.

The type of repairs approved varies according to car age and mileage, as well as, mechanic recommendation. Typical repairs include ignition, brakes, suspension, exhaust, fuel, and tires. Transmission repairs and body work are beyond the scope of this program. All repairs are done by NAPA Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified Technicians that are identified by PRC.

There is not a maximum repair cost, but PRC staff and repair shop mechanics will determine if the repairs are reasonable in comparison to the value of the vehicle. Clients are required to pay a portion of the repair.

Our Mission

People’s Resource Center community exists to respond to basic human needs, promote dignity and justice, and create a future of hope and opportunity for the residents of DuPage County, Illinois.