Understanding the importance of warranties and their functions is important to responsible car ownership. A warranty can save you thousands in repairs and provides the peace of mind you need to operate your vehicle without worry. A drivetrain is a crucial component in any vehicle. Manufacturers and dealerships often offer a drivetrain warranty when you purchase a new or used vehicle. Learn what a drivetrain warranty is, why it is important, what is and isn’t covered under a drivetrain warranty, the difference between a drivetrain warranty and a powertrain warranty, and tips to determine whether you need a drivetrain warranty.
What is a Drivetrain?
A drivetrain in a vehicle comprises all the components necessary to transfer power from the transmission to the wheels. It is all the moving parts that work with the engine to move a vehicle. These parts include the transmission, the axles, the wheels, and the driveshaft. The drivetrain is one of a vehicle’s top two most important components.
What Is a Drivetrain Warranty?
Vehicle warranties cover defects and damage that occur during normal use but aren’t considered normal wear and tear. A vehicle warranty can replace defective parts with new or reconditioned parts and also covers the cost of labor. A drivetrain warranty is a contract ensuring the service of vehicles for specific sections and mechanical parts under certain circumstances only. It offers security for key components of your vehicle after the standard manufacturer’s warranty expires. A drivetrain warranty is typically offered by a third-party provider. If there are mechanical malfunctions, the warranty pays for repairs because of these faulty parts. Some portions of the drivetrain can be costly, so coverage can help you save thousands of dollars on parts and service.
Why a Drivetrain Warranty Is Important
A drivetrain warranty is important because it warranties everything that makes the vehicle move except the engine itself. A drivetrain warranty can give vehicle owners peace of mind that major repairs can still be covered once a manufacturer warranty expires. Drivetrain warranties can reduce the overall cost of vehicle ownership if mechanical malfunctions occur. These third-party agreements often cover the cost of parts and services.
What Is Covered Under a Drivetrain Warranty
Drivetrain warranties cover the parts of the vehicle that transfer power. For vehicles with a manual transmission, these typically include:
- The rear axle
- Hypoid bevel gear
- Final drive
- Propeller shaft
Vehicle owners whose vehicles have an automatic transmission can expect the drivetrain warranty to cover:
- Propeller shaft
- Rear axle
- Torque converter
Understanding what coverage your drivetrain warranty covers is fundamental to planning for your vehicle’s proper care and maintenance. In addition, knowing what is protected under a drivetrain warranty can prevent you from being responsible for costly repairs.
What Is Not Covered Under a Drivetrain Warranty
A drivetrain warranty is the most basic type of vehicle warranty there is because it only covers select items of the car’s components. Parts which you might expect to be included as part of the drivetrain warranty but typically aren’t include:
- Infotainment system
- Fuel system parts
- A/C compressor
- Shock abosorbers
- Sleeve bearings
- Clutch plate and assembly
- Aftermarket and custom parts
- Pre-existing conditions
Drivetrain warranties don’t cover cosmetic damage or damages to a vehicle from an accident. The drivetrain warranty won’t cover the damage if your axle is wrecked in a collision. A claim would need to be filed with your vehicle insurance company.
Drivetrain Warranty vs. Powertrain Warranty
It’s easy to confuse a drivetrain warranty with a powertrain warranty. The fundamental difference between powertrain and drivetrain warranties is that the drivetrain warranties typically exclude the engine. A drivetrain warranty includes the vehicle’s portions that carry energy to the wheels, while the powertrain also contains parts that produce the energy.
Drivetrain coverage includes the bare bones, while powertrain coverage is considered a more inclusive form of coverage. A comprehensive coverage plan is more extensive and often includes wear-and-tear items such as brakes and brake pads. Because a drivetrain coverage focuses on the basics, it is typically the most economical coverage available but may not always be offered. Both car makers and aftermarket third-party service providers are more likely to offer powertrain warranties instead of drivetrain warranties.
Tips to Know Whether You Need a Drivetrain Warranty
Although drivetrain warranties cover the basics, they do offer some substantial benefits. Here are some tips to consider whether a drivetrain warranty is right for you.
Drivetrain Repairs can be Costly
Having to replace an entire drivetrain can be an expensive endeavor. Depending on the parts that work, the amount you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket without a drivetrain warranty can vary. Here are some common drivetrain repair costs:
- Transfer case replacement: $2,588 – $2,688
- Axle shaft replacement: $1,160 – $1,450
- Transmission replacement: about $4,000
- Differential repairs: $200 – $400 each and up to $2,000 each
- CV joints: $260 – $1,180
The Length of the Drivetrain Warranty
The length of a typical drivetrain warranty varies depending on individual manufacturers. A new vehicle typically has a drivetrain warranty that lasts for five years or up to 60,000 miles. Manufacturers may opt to offer extended drivetrain warranties depending on whether drivers are reporting recurring issues.
Types of Drivetrain Warranties
There are different types of drivetrain warranties. Here are the usual versions offered:
- Front wheel drivetrains: These drivetrains only deliver power to the front wheels of the vehicle. These vehicles get better fuel economy and usually emit less carbon dioxide.
- Rear-wheel drivetrains: These drivetrains deliver power to rear wheels. The front wheels maneuver the vehicle.
- Four-wheel drivetrains: These drivetrains allow the driver to switch between rear-wheel and all four wheels.
- All-wheel drivetrains: These drivetrains deliver power to all wheels. This employs front, rear, and center differentials.
There are several things to consider before purchasing a drivetrain warranty. Compare the plan’s price with the amount you’d have to pay out-of-pocket if the drivetrain needed repairs. To get the best value for your money, potential repair charges should be more than the amount you pay for coverage, plus whatever deductible you contribute if you make a claim. The peace of mind you get from a drivetrain warranty’s coverage also has value.
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.