Many new vehicles come with a standard manufacturer warranty that lasts 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. But if you didn’t purchase a brand new car or you’ve had your car for a while, how do you know if you’re still under warranty?
In this review, we’ll discuss factory warranty term lengths and coverage, then break down how to extend your vehicle protection plan.
Factory Warranty Overview
When you buy a new car from a dealership, it usually comes with a vehicle protection plan, commonly known as a manufacturer warranty or factory warranty. This warranty covers most parts that break as a result of an automaker’s error or defective workmanship.
With this protection, you know you won't have to cover the cost of repairs or replacements if parts fail, aside from a deductible. However, factory warranties cover only a small fraction of your vehicle’s lifespan. And it’s after the factory warranty period expires that a car will most likely have a significant mechanical issue and need an expensive repair.
What’s Covered Under A Car Warranty
The types of repairs covered by car warranties vary depending on the manufacturer or provider. Factory warranties typically cover all major vehicle systems and the powertrain, including the engine, transmission, and other vital components.
To ensure that your car warranty covers a comprehensive list of vehicle components, read the coverage details thoroughly before purchasing a plan. If you’re buying an extended car warranty, review a sample contract before signing on the dotted line. Extended warranty plans are usually more flexible than factory warranties – with options ranging from bumper-to-bumper protection to coverage only for the vehicle’s most essential parts and systems.
What’s Not Covered Under A Car Warranty
Not all factory or third-party protection plans provide complete coverage, so make sure to read up on exclusions in your contract. Most car warranties will not cover the following:
- Wear-and-tear components: Parts that wear out over time, including brake pads, windshield wipers, and headlight bulbs
- Routine maintenance: Maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotations
- Modifications or alterations: Includes parts that aren’t factory-installed and cars with altered odometers
- Interior damage: Includes holes in the upholstery and cracked or broken plastic
- Exterior damage: Includes paint damage, dents, and scratches to exterior panels
- Inadequate car care: Damage caused by driving irresponsibly or skipping services from the vehicle’s maintenance schedule
- Environmental/natural disaster damage: Damage caused by environmental factors such as hail, wind, and fires
- Accident/collision damage: Includes dented exteriors and broken glass from a car accident
How To See If Your Car Is Still Under Warranty
A common factory warranty term is 3 years or 36,000 miles, but your own terms may vary based on your vehicle’s manufacturer. To see if your car's factory warranty is still active, try one of these three methods:
Find Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
You’ll typically find your VIN inside the driver's side door or on the driver's side of the windshield, but its exact location depends on your car’s make and model. With a VIN in hand, you can visit Carfax.com and enter the number to find your warranty status and much more about your vehicle.
Check Your Odometer
By checking the odometer and model year, you can easily determine if your car is still under warranty. The odds are good that your factory warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles, but it could last for up to 5 years/60,000 miles.
Depending on the warranty terms, you’ll know if your plan is active or expired based on how many miles you’ve put on the vehicle and when you bought it. A factory warranty expires once the car eclipses the years or miles listed in the service contract. It doesn’t need to exceed both.
Ask Your Car Dealer Or Seller
If you don’t know your warranty limits or can't find your owner's manual, contact the car dealership or original seller. Either should be able to give you all the information you need about the vehicle, including whether it’s still protected under a warranty.
How Much Is An Extended Car Warranty?
Dealerships and third-party warranty companies like CarShield offer extended warranties with prolonged coverage designed to take effect after a factory warranty expires.
The typical cost of an extended auto warranty is between $1,000 and $3,000 according to our secret shopping experiences, but this depends on the coverage level you select, your deductible, and other details such as the make and model of your car.
With most extended car warranties, you can make monthly payments or pay the total upfront. When your car needs repairs, you only have to pay the deductible.
Third-party extended warranties, also known as vehicle service contracts, are generally cheaper than dealership extended warranties and can have longer coverage terms. From a convenience standpoint, you can also take your car almost anywhere for service instead of being required to visit the dealership where you purchased the vehicle.
Should I Get An Extended Car Warranty?
If you want to avoid out-of-pocket payments on car repairs once your factory warranty expires, an extended warranty can be a worthwhile investment. But if your car is relatively young and a traditionally reliable make and model, you may not benefit from an extended warranty.
Recommendations For Extended Warranty Coverage
Our team has reviewed more than 50 extended warranty providers and rated them based on coverage, price, customer service, and added benefits like roadside assistance. In 2022, we awarded CarShield the designation of Best Value.
CarShield has served customers for more than 15 years and has covered more than a million vehicles. The St. Peters, Missouri-based company is known for its affordable rates, discount for having multiple cars under a CarShield extended warranty, and flexible coverage terms.
Unlike many extended warranty providers, CarShield offers month-to-month contracts as well as more traditional multiyear contracts. The month-to-month option can be especially appealing since you don’t have to enter a long-term agreement and payments start as low as $99.
CarShield's six extended warranty plans cover vehicles with up to 300,000 miles on the odometer, which is significantly more than any other third-party extended warranty company we’ve reviewed.
With a CarShield extended warranty, you can also pick the approved repair shop of your choice, transfer the contract to a new owner if you sell your vehicle, and take advantage of 24/7 roadside assistance if your car breaks down.
Learn more by reading our complete CarShield review and getting a free quote.