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A Buyer’s Guide to a Factory Warranty

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A factory warranty (also called a manufacturer warranty) is coverage against defects on a new car, and most can be transferred to subsequent owners depending on the time since the vehicle was purchased and how many miles it has on it. All vehicles come with some level of a factory warranty, although some automakers’ warranties are better than others. Under a factory warranty, the manufacturer promises to pay for covered vehicle repairs for a fixed time frame or mileage, starting from the day you take home your brand-new car. The factory warranty is usually split into different coverages including basic, powertrain, emissions, paint, hybrid/EV, and more.

What Does a Factory Warranty Cover?

These days, almost every brand offers you a manufacturer’s warranty on new cars. Warranties can vary greatly depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. The basic coverages for each protection plan are pretty much the same since all car brands compete to attract customers in the same marketplace. Moreover, shoppers expect that the factory warranties from most manufacturers offer similar core coverage plans.

One factory warranty may have multiple warranties for different car parts. For instance, if you get an inclusionary factory warranty, your contract will clearly outline every part the manufacturer covers under it. In the case of an exclusionary warranty, you will find a list of excluded car parts instead. For a better understanding of things factory warranties cover, here are the main coverage types that you’ll usually find in a factory warranty:

Basic Limited Warranty

A basic limited warranty, also known as bumper-to-bumper coverage, covers all repairs for material defects for several car parts. A bumper-to-bumper warranty doesn’t include:

  • Wear items such as tires and brakes
  • Any environmental damage, like external rust or natural disasters
  • Routine maintenance, such as oil changes or damage caused by the lack of such maintenance
  • Damage caused by owner negligence

Powertrain Warranty

A powertrain warranty is the second core coverage that almost all factory warranties offer. Here is what a powertrain warranty covers:

  • Engine with the engine block and its internal parts
  • Transmission or transaxle
  • Drivetrain (2WD, 4WD, AWD)

Please remember that under a powertrain warranty, you get coverage for only defective parts or poor installations made by the manufacturer. This warranty won’t cover a transmission repair if an issue results from misuse or negligence.

Other Parts of the Factory Warranty

A manufacturer warranty may come with these coverage types as well:

  • Corrosion coverage: Under this warranty, you will get coverage for the cost of replacing rusted sheet metal. You’ll need to have a hole in the metal to get this coverage, but it may not cover surface rust.
  • Roadside assistance: It can be an independent warranty or combined with the Powertrain warranty with the same duration for both. Some companies might need you to pay some deductible or offer roadside assistance only.
  • Emissions warranty: Federal law mandates that car manufacturers cover emissions parts for defects. This warranty covers emissions-related parts, such as the engine, fuel system parts, catalytic converters, and electronic sensors.
  • Maintenance coverage: Some manufacturers may cover routine service for your car. Regular maintenance can be related to your car’s oil and coolant levels, air filter, tire pressure, and tread depth, among other things.

How Long Does a Factory Warranty Last?

Usually, factory warranties are effective for a specified number of miles or years. As soon as whichever of these is covered first, the protection plan expires. For instance, if your factory warranty is valid for three years or 25,000 miles, your protection plan will no longer be effective if you drive your car 25,000 miles before three years pass or after those three years, even if you have not driven the car 25,000 miles.

A bumper-to-bumper warranty may last three years or 36,000 miles, and powertrain warranties usually last five years or 60,000 miles. Many leading brands, like Chevrolet, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, and Subaru, offer this level of protection. Most brands have a factory warranty period of four years or 50,000 miles. Please note that the general warranty periods from the manufacturer might come with some exceptions. As of now, there are no unlimited bumper-to-bumper factory warranties on the market.

Typically, most emissions parts warranties are effective for two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. But some vital parts, such as the catalytic converter or emissions control unit, get coverage for eight years or 100,000 miles.

The duration of maintenance coverage will depend on your service provider. Some maintenance warranties may have long validity periods, while others might have shorter maintenance periods. For instance, Toyota covers regular maintenance on new cars for 24 months or 25,000 miles. Fiat offers this type of protection for 12 months or 12,000 miles.

What Sets Factory Warranties Apart From Other Warranties?

Besides the vehicle manufacturer backing a factory warranty, there is one key difference between this type of protection and a warranty you may get from a third party: You don’t need to pay a single penny for a standard factory warranty. That is because the price of your new car includes the cost of a factory warranty. However, some dealers may ask you to pay a deductible for certain repairs.

How Do You Know Whether Your Vehicle Is Under a Factory Warranty?

Besides knowing the basics of a factory warranty, you must know how to check if your vehicle is still under a factory warranty. You can use your vehicle identification number (VIN) to determine this. Your VIN acts like a social security number (SSN) for your car, but the VIN has a mixture of numbers and letters. You can locate the VIN in several different places on your vehicle, such as on the driver’s side of the windshield or the inside edge of the door on the driver’s side.

Once you have found your VIN, use it to log into your account on your automaker’s website and see information about your vehicle. Alternatively, you can call a dealership for your vehicle’s brand and ask the staff to look up your warranty coverage through your VIN in the dealership’s database. If you don’t know whom to call, try looking for an online dealership locator for your car’s brand.

Buying a new vehicle can be a lifelong dream, but you should know about various types of warranties and what they cover to improve your car-buying experience. Specifically, knowing what to expect from a factory warranty, like its duration, features, unique selling points, and much more, will help you make an informed decision.

FIXD Research Team

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.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.

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About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

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.

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