Getting To Know Your Car Warranty


Know what your vehicle warranty covers so that you don't end up paying out of pocket.

Read in this article:

How Does a Warranty for New Cars Work?

A car warranty comes attached to almost every new vehicle sold in the USA, but it's easy to be left in the dark about what this actually means for you. What is the meaning of a warranty, you may ask. Essentially, it is a guarantee that the components of your vehicle will stand the test of time. And, in the event that certain parts fail, break, or malfunction within the specified time frame, the manufacturer will take responsibility for the repairs or replacement. However, it is not to be mistaken for insurance, since a vehicle warranty only covers the manufacturer's responsibility to deliver a quality product. If you're in an accident, you're on your own.

The Different Types of Warranties

If you're wondering which type of warranty you would find on a new car, you can expect several. These warranties each cover a different aspect of the vehicle, and therefore have varying time and mileage limits attached to them. Each manufacturer also offers its own take on this. Here is a quick breakdown of each type of warranty new cars come with for free - or rather, already included in the MSRP - as well as what you can expect from the coverage.

Car Warranty

Bumper-to-bumper Warranty

Also called a basic or new vehicle warranty, bumper-to-bumper covers the widest variety of problems. In general, this includes all the mechanical components inside your vehicle, including the battery, fuel system, and interior electronics such as the radio or air conditioning. However, actual body parts, like the bumpers, are not included. Most such warranties will include a short list of components that aren't included, so you should definitely take note when shopping and ask yourself why certain things are left off.

Powertrain Warranty

As the name suggests, the powertrain warranty is concerned with the mechanical components that make up the propulsion system of your vehicle. Naturally, this includes the engine, but also the transmission, axles, transfer case, driveshafts, and various seals and gaskets. This particular warranty is normally longer than the basic one, and hybrid or electric vehicles get a special version of this warranty, as well as additional cover for batteries.

Corrosion Warranty

The elements can take a toll on your vehicle's exterior and the corrosion warranty is specifically designed to deal with such damage. The most common type of corrosive damage is rust. Since this doesn't usually cost all that much to repair, the warranty is often valid for a much longer period of time. This gives the illusion of added value. Read more about rust on your car here.

Roadside Assistance

While not a warranty per se, roadside assist is a promise by the company to give you a hand should your car break down. Normally, this takes the form of a tow truck, but sometimes, a mechanic may be dispatched to deal with a minor issue so that you can be on your way.

Despite the various types of warranties, there will always be certain things left off. Naturally, damage caused by an accident is not the manufacturer's responsibility. The same is true if you don't take good care of the vehicle or if you mess up an aftermarket alteration. For this reason, you should ensure you have the correct car insurance coverage, too.

Things usually not covered by a standard warranty include:

  • Tires
  • Brake pads
  • Seats and upholstery
  • Accident damage
  • Damage from neglect
  • Scratches and dents in the sheet metal
  • Regular maintenance

The Leaders in the Warranty Game

No two cars are the same, and so, most warranties are tailored to a specific vehicle or brand. Here are some of the most popular automakers in the United States along with a summation of their general warranty coverage. Just keep in mind that these are for gasoline-powered cars for sale currently, as hybrid and EVs receive different packages, especially in terms of powertrain warranty.

ManufacturerBumper-to-bumperPowertrainRoadside AssistCorrosion
Audi4 years/50,000 miles4 years/50,000 miles4 years12 years
Kia5 years/60,000 miles10 years/100,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/100,000 miles
Tesla4 years/50,000 miles8 years/varies4/years/50,000 miles12 years
Cadillac4 years/50,000 miles6 years/70,000 miles6 years /70,000 miles6 years
Hyundai5 years/60,000 miles10 years/100,0005 years7 years
Lincoln4 years/50,000 miles6 years/70,000 milesUnlimited5 years
Volkswagen4 years/50,000 miles6 years/72,000 miles3 years/36,000 miles7 years/100,000 miles
Genesis5 years/60,000 miles10 years/100,000 miles5 years7 years
Lexus4 years/50,000 miles6 years/70,000 miles3 years6 years
Mitsubishi5 years/60,000 miles10 years/10,000 miles5 years7 year/100,000 miles

Is an Extended Warranty Worth it?

If you're buying from a dealership, you can expect the salesperson to try to sell you an extended warranty. Consider an extended warranty on new cars carefully as it is an extra expense, and because the standard one will generally cover you for the average length of ownership already. However, you may be tempted to purchase a car warranty extension if you hang on to the same car for a longer period of time.

Whether or not this is a good idea will depend on your circumstances. The older the model of car or the more premium the brand, the higher the price is going to be - an extended warranty on the newest MercedesGLS SUV will cost a lot more than that of a base model Toyota Corolla. The car warranty is like insurance in the event that something goes wrong, but it gets to the point where the payments simply aren't worth it on the off chance that something breaks down. You may actually end up spending less to just pay for a fix out of your own pocket.

Car Warranty Extension

Taking Over the Warranty on a Used Car

When selling your used vehicle, you should definitely check if the car is still under warranty. There may still be 1 or 2 year's worth of warranty left, and if you plan on keeping the car for another 5 years, you may want to think about whether you should buy an extended warranty on your used car. It could also be in your interest to extend the warranty as a drawcard to buyers if you plan on selling the car.

Transferring the warranty over to your name isn't too difficult, since the warranty is tied to the VIN number of the vehicle. However, there are some cases where the policy may be tied to the individual owner, so you will have to check if that is the case. This can limit your options; if the warranty on a used car is not transferable, you may have to consider an aftermarket car warranty.


How does a car warranty work?

A warranty is a promise by a manufacturer that its product is of the expected quality. Should something break as a result of production error, such as a faulty rearview camera, then the repairs will be covered in full by the automaker. It will not pay for damages caused by operator error, such as accidents, misuse, or improper care. But if something breaks long before it should, it can be repaired or replaced at no cost to you.

Are car warranties worth it?

In most cases, your warranty will be included in your purchase. Any mechanical failures during the period of the policy will be repaired free of charge by the automaker/dealer, so long as it doesn't fall within the list of exclusions. Not only is this worth it for your peace of mind, but it also speaks to the level of trust you can have in the quality of production. An extended warranty is another matter altogether and is not always worth the higher price. Weigh up your options carefully.

What does my car warranty cover?

There are various addendums within a vehicle warranty, and what the powertrain or bumper-to-bumper warranty cover includes differs. Each has a different duration and mile limit for the parts they pertain to. Generally speaking, between the two, almost all the mechanical components of your vehicle will be covered, including the engine, transmission, onboard electronics, and safety systems. Most high-wear components are excluded, though, such as tires and upholstery.

Can a dealer refuse to make repairs on your car?

So long as the problem falls within the purview of your warranty, dealers and manufacturers are required, by federal law, to perform the repairs or replace the faulty parts at their own expense.

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