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What is A Car Warranty?

what is a car warranty

Whether commuting to work, picking up the kids from school, or running errands, cars are essential to our everyday lives. We count on our vehicles to work every time we turn the key. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Cars break down — even the most reliable ones — with more parts failing as automobiles age.

This is where car warranties come in. Car warranties help limit the financial risk of mechanical problems and give drivers peace of mind. But what is a car warranty? Read on to learn more about this popular covenant that binds auto manufacturers and vehicle owners.

What Is a Car Warranty?

A car warranty is essentially a contract where the provider agrees to fix certain parts of a vehicle if they break down due to defects or wear and tear. Car warranties are a declaration by carmakers — or third parties — to stand by the integrity of their product and undertake the responsibility to fix said product if their confidence is misplaced. In order words, these contracts are documented offers from the provider to pay for the repair or replacement of a damaged or defective component. Also, what constitute damages, failure, and defects are clearly outlined in the contracts.

Is a Car Warranty Different From an Auto Insurance?

A car warranty is different from auto insurance. Unlike auto insurance, it doesn’t cover the cost of repairs after an accident and is not required by law in many states. What it does is help cover the cost of mechanical repairs due to a defect. To add, a car warranty does not cover artificial damage (by you or someone else) or weather damage. Still, a car warranty and auto insurance are necessary and should complement each other.

Types of Car Warranties

There are two different types of car warranties: the manufacturer’s warranty and the extended warranty. Both cover a wide variety of components. Here are their low-downs:

Manufacturer Warranty

The manufacturer’s warranty comes with every new car. All carmakers offer different types of warranties including basic, powertrain, corrosion, and more with the exact coverage depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Keep in mind, you don’t need to take any extra steps to get this type of warranty. And even if you buy a used car and it is still within the warranty period or mileage, the vehicle is covered. This is possible because the warranty is attached to the car, not the owner.

Extended Warranty

You can purchase an extended warranty to cover repairs after the manufacturer’s warranty runs out. Extended warranties can come from the manufacturer or a third party. Either way, it’s important to look carefully at the contract because each company offers different coverage.

One of the benefits of an extended warranty is that the buyer can choose what they want to cover. Various extended warranties are available, and they cover different components, depending on your plan.

What Do Car Warranties Cover?

The parts a warranty covers depends on the type of warranty. The three most popular car warranties are:

Powertrain Warranty

Most new vehicles come with a powertrain warranty. The powertrain is all the mechanical parts that move the car, such as the engine, transmission, and driveshaft. Some powertrain warranties also cover additional components, like axles, wheel bearings, wheels, and other related parts. What’s more, most manufacturer powertrain warranties last for 60,000 miles or three to five years, although some offer coverage for up to 100,000 miles.

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty

A bumper-to-bumper warranty is a one-year or 24,000-mileage protection plan from the manufacturer of your car. It could also vary from three years or 36,000 miles to five years or 60,000 miles. The bumper-to-bumper warranty is the most important warranty for any car. With it, you can return your vehicle to the dealership if certain problems occur after you take possession of it. This will cover you for any damages to your car caused by defects or faulty workmanship.

Though despite its many benefits, bumper-to-bumper coverage does not include normal wear and tear, such as dents and scratches.

Corrosion and Perforation Warranty

A corrosion and perforation warranty covers the car against rust and corrosion. It comes even more in handy in snowy states, because the salt and sand used to treat roads there can corrode or accelerate rust in car parts. Some manufacturers limit coverage to the perforation of metal panels, while others cover significant corrosion. Nevertheless, many contracts stipulate that the corrosion can not be the result of an accident, extreme environmental conditions, or the driver’s actions.

Federal Emission Warranty

Nowadays, new cars often come with a federal emissions warranty. If an automobile with this warranty fails an emissions test during the first two years or 24,000 miles, the manufacturer will make the repairs needed so the vehicle meets this requirement. Also, many carmakers offer Californian residents this warranty for up to seven years or 70,000 miles. We recommend you check your warranty to see how long it lasts before bringing your vehicle for an emissions test.

Accessories Warranty

An accessories warranty covers components in the cabin and other auto accessories. It might include coverage for seat belts, air bags, and even audio systems. Another thing, check to see if this warranty extends to seat fabrics, exterior sensors, and interior paneling.

Remember, aftermarket accessories often come with their own warranties and are not covered under the manufacturer’s accessories warranty.

Hybrid and Electric Car Battery Warranties

Hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric cars have specific warranties for the batteries. The federal government mandates that these are at least eight years, though many automakers have battery warranties that last longer. For example, Kia and Toyota offer 10-year warranties for their high-voltage batteries.

Is It Possible to Void a Car Warranty?

Yes, it’s possible to void your warranty. Under certain circumstances, the manufacturer will deny repairs that would ordinarily be covered by the warranty. These often include:

  • Reckless use of the vehicle
  • Racing
  • Unauthorized repairs either by you or a repair shop
  • Skipping regular maintenance
  • Unauthorized upgrades that damage a covered component
  • Salvage title
  • Environmental damage, such as fire or flood
  • Altered odometer

A car warranty protects car buyers from paying out of pocket for auto repairs for defective or damaged parts. Extended warranties extend the time and miles for this coverage. The extended coverage might cost extra. But if you buy a used car nearing the end of its manufacturer’s warranty and want financial peace of mind, the added expense is worth the overall benefits.

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.


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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