Nobody wants to deal with car trouble, and while some issues are small and easy to repair, others are major and require a lot of time and attention. Engine failure, resulting in engine replacement, is one of those big, inconvenient issues. Though needing your vehicle’s engine replaced is never an enviable scenario, many auto warranties cover engine replacement, meaning most or all of the costs associated with the replacement are covered by the warranty. Here’s how engine replacement under warranty works, which warranties cover engine replacement, and what actions might void those warranties.
What Is Engine Replacement?
Engine replacement is the process of completely removing the engine from the car and installing a new or remanufactured one. Routine maintenance usually catches engine problems early enough that repairs can keep the engine working before a problem gets particularly bad. However, sometimes things go wrong inside the engine, and either it cannot be salvaged, or it’s less expensive to replace it than to repair the old one. Engines can go bad thanks to faulty parts, lack of maintenance, or issues in manufacturing.
What Is a Warranty?
An automobile warranty is a type of contract in which a service provider, usually the car manufacturer, agrees to cover the cost of labor and parts for specific repairs done to the car. Warranties cover mechanical issues due to bad parts or defects that occur during manufacturing. Warranties don’t cover typical wear and tear or routine maintenance, nor do they cover problems that occur due to the vehicle owner’s negligence. They also don’t cover collision damage, which insurance is designed to take care of.
Which Warranties Cover Engine Replacement?
Warranties that are included with a new vehicle cover engine replacement for several years after you purchase that car. When those warranties expire, certain extended warranties will cover engine replacement too.
This comprehensive warranty comes automatically with new vehicles. The manufacturer provides this type of warranty for a short period, often three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The exact duration of the warranty depends on the specific vehicle and its manufacturer. Regardless, replacement engine parts or an entire engine replacement are both covered under this type of warranty.
New vehicles also come with powertrain warranties, which cover the components of the car that make it move. This includes everything in the drivetrain plus the engine. Note that the powertrain and drivetrain, while comprising many of the same parts, aren’t the same thing, and if you need your engine replaced under warranty, it usually requires a powertrain warranty.
Car manufacturers offer a longer term on the powertrain warranty than the bumper-to-bumper warranty. Typical terms are five years or 60,000 miles, but some manufacturers offer powertrain warranties that are as long as 10 years or 100,000 miles. An engine replacement is covered under a powertrain warranty.
You can get an extended warranty from either the manufacturer or a third party once your original warranty expires. You pay into the extended warranty and you’re covered if something malfunctions on your car that’s included in the warranty contract. An extended bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranty will cover an engine replacement. Note that a drivetrain warranty, which is another type of extended warranty, may not cover engine replacement, since some drivetrain warranties don’t consider the engine to be part of the drivetrain.
When Doesn’t the Warranty Cover Engine Replacement?
Warranties are wonderful at covering the costs of parts and labor when something goes wrong with your car. However, car owners often accidentally void their warranties without realizing it. Warranties can be strict about how frequently you get routine maintenance like oil changes done, where you take your car to be repaired, and what kind of parts are used when those repairs are carried out. Something as simple as not changing your oil frequently enough can cause issues with warranties.
While your car is under the manufacturer’s warranty, carefully review the terms of the contract before doing any of the following:
- Investing in aftermarket engine parts or upgrades
- Failing to take the car in for routine maintenance
- Misusing your vehicle, like taking it off-road
- Using the wrong fluids
- Altering the odometer
Not all warranties will be completely voided under these circumstances. In some cases, your next claim will simply be denied. For example, if a nonapproved repair shop causes damage to your vehicle or installs aftermarket parts that cause damage down the line, your warranty may not cover fixing that damage, meaning you’ll be paying for it out of pocket.
While dealers would prefer to service your car themselves, you are not required to. It is actually illegal for dealers to require you to get all your service through them. Using a trusted independent shop can save a great deal of money. In order to maintain your warranty coverage, however, make sure you keep detailed receipts that prove you have had all necessary maintenance done at the other shop. When a dealer services your car they already have this information on file, but they don’t have service records from other businesses. So make sure you can prove that you have strictly followed the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to ensure warranty coverage.
Engine replacement is extremely expensive. The new engine alone will cost thousands of dollars. That’s why you want to avoid a denied claim or voided warranty by following the terms of the contract.
Other circumstances that are outside your control may not be covered under warranty. They include:
- Severe damage from an accident that results in a salvage title
- Natural disaster damage
In these instances, your car insurance kicks in and provides you with the funds to repair or replace your car. Warranties and insurance are designed to cover different things. A warranty is meant to cover faulty parts and other malfunctions, so damage from external factors doesn’t fall under its purview.
Replacing your engine under warranty won’t cost you much, if anything, and afterward, you can drive your car with confidence knowing that you’ve got a brand new part under the hood. Having to deal with such a large repair is inconvenient, but being covered by a warranty saves you from additional hassle. Pay attention to the terms of your warranty and make sure you follow the contract to the letter to avoid any denied claims or warranty voids.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.