A Simple Explanation of the Different Types of Car Warranties
Buying a new or certified pre-owned car has a lot of perks — including coverage for parts that break so you don’t have to pay for repairs. However, that coverage isn’t absolute; only certain parts are covered during certain times under certain conditions. It can be confusing trying to comprehend everything.
Here’s a basic guide to the types of car warranties and what they cover.
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This is the warranty all brand-new cars have. Also known as the “comprehensive” or “new car” warranty, this coverage will replace many of the vehicle’s components should they suffer from any manufacturing or functional defects. So if the audio system glitches, the HVAC system leaks, or a window seizes during this coverage period, you won’t have to pay for the repair (as long as you follow the warranty guidelines and go to a certified repair shop).
This warranty doesn’t cover regular maintenance like oil and air filters, normal wear like tires and seating surfaces, and cosmetic surfaces like body panels and dashboard trim. It also doesn’t cover damage caused by collisions or other outside forces.
Because this coverage is so thorough, automakers offer it for a shorter period than other warranties. The length varies based on the automaker, but it ranges from 3 years/36,000 miles to 6 years/60,000 miles.
This warranty covers the components that are integral to the car fundamentally operating. If the engine, transmission, driveshaft, axle, or another component that generates/transmits power happens to unexpectedly kick the bucket during this period, the powertrain warranty will cover repairs. Some “wear” items related to the powertrain — like the battery and belts — aren’t covered.
Many automakers are generous with this warranty and can offer terms like 10 years/100,000 miles of coverage (whichever comes first).
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Your car is an investment and should survive its initial years without deteriorating. In case that does happen sooner than normal, this coverage will replace metal panels suffering from rust-induced perforations.
Because of government regulations, your new car has many parts and sensors that monitor and regulate its emissions. If these components fail, your vehicle could produce more emissions than legally allowed. So that you’re not held responsible when this happens, automakers offer an emissions warranty that will fix the problem.
The battery is considered a normal wear item for gas-powered cars, but it’s an integral part of the powertrain for a hybrid vehicle. Thus, electric-powered cars receive special coverage for the battery pack, electric motor, and related components. Like the powertrain warranty, this coverage can span a long time — a good incentive for buying an eco-friendly car!
If you purchase official OEM or OEM-approved upgrades and add-ons for your vehicle, those could be covered by an accessories warranty. A normal bumper-to-bumper warranty won’t cover accessories that weren’t part of the car when it was constructed or initially sold. So, if you add enhancements to your car through a certified parts retailer, those will come with their own warranty.
Bumper-to-bumper warranties don’t always transfer to the next owner when a car is resold, so a dealership can offer a certified pre-owned warranty instead. If the vehicle meets certain criteria prescribed by the manufacturer, it can earn certification status that includes a warranty to substitute the original bumper-to-bumper coverage.
If you want a longer coverage period on an existing warranty or want more thorough coverage (on normal wear items like wheels, for instance), you can purchase an extended warranty. These don’t usually come from the automaker; third-party often companies sell extended warranties to you for a small price. You may be asked if you want to add an extended warranty when you’re buying your car from a dealership.
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.