Even car enthusiasts sometimes confuse drivetrain warranties and powertrain warranties, which are two ways to describe the coverage found in vehicle service contracts. When you’re buying a new car or choosing an extended protection plan for your vehicle, it’s important to know exactly what’s included in your coverage.
Here, we’ll discuss the difference between a drivetrain and a powertrain warranty before breaking down the industry’s leading warranties. Afterward, you’ll be able to make better informed decisions when it comes to car maintenance and repair coverage.
What Is A Drivetrain Warranty?
A drivetrain warranty is an automaker or third-party vehicle service contract that covers the car part system known as the drivetrain. The drivetrain encompasses all moving parts that connect with the engine to move a vehicle, so it includes the transmission, the driveshaft, the axles, and the wheels. Each of these parts allows for the transfer of energy from the engine to the wheels to occur. Besides the engine, the drivetrain is the most essential component of any vehicle.
What Does A Drivetrain Warranty Cover?
A drivetrain warranty covers all the parts of the drivetrain that help the vehicle to move, including:
- Axle shafts
- CV joints
- U joints
Warranties can vary, so we recommend reading the fine print of any sample contract so that you know exactly what’s covered.
Drivetrain Warranty vs. Powertrain Warranty
Although people often hear the terms drivetrain warranty and powertrain warranty used interchangeably, it’s important to note that these words do not mean the same thing. A powertrain warranty covers all the parts of the drivetrain plus all engine components, which is why people often confuse the two. However, drivetrain warranties don’t cover the engine or any of its parts.
What Is An Extended Drivetrain Warranty?
Even if you get a long-lasting factory warranty on your drivetrain, the coverage is going to expire eventually. Luckily, both car dealerships and third-party providers offer extended protection to help vehicle owners get the most out of their cars and avoid costly repairs.
An extended drivetrain warranty typically covers the repair or replacement of components like:
- Axle shafts
- CV joints
- Axle seals
- Axle housing
- Transfer case
- U joints
Where Can I Purchase An Extended Drivetrain Warranty?
When considering any extended auto warranty, you have two options: dealer-backed or third-party plans. Below, we break down each of these options as well as their benefits and drawbacks.
Dealer Extended Warranty
An OEM-backed extended warranty, which is purchased from the original equipment manufacturer, typically provides similar coverage to the factory warranty. While some companies like General Motors allow customers to simply extend their existing factory warranty, most extended warranties are separate plans that protect the vehicle after the original warranty expires. These vehicle service contracts sometimes include added perks like roadside assistance and towing coverage.
Dealer warranties almost always require that you perform all repairs and part replacements at a dealership repair facility with name brand parts. This may mean higher costs and, in some cases, long wait times for repairs. Additionally, some dealer vehicle service contracts request proof of regular maintenance performed at an authorized dealership facility before performing covered repairs.
Third-Party Extended Warranty
Third-party warranties make up a large portion of the extended car warranty market today. Like dealer warranties, they provide coverage for mechanical issues after the factory warranty expires. Although vehicle service contracts vary between third-party providers, most include coverage for anywhere from five to 10 years.
Third-party vehicle service contracts often offer car owners more flexibility. You can generally choose your own repair shop from a network of local mechanics and national chains. The contracts also don’t require brand name parts, allowing the repair facility to use the most cost-effective options. Finally, most third-party warranty companies offer benefits like 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption coverage as standard parts of the contract.
Best Factory Drivetrain Warranty Coverage
Although most automakers provide average warranty coverage for new vehicles, a few brands stand out with longer term lengths and great added benefits.
|Make||Bumper-to-Bumper Coverage||Powertrain Coverage||Other Perks|
|Hyundai||5 years or 60,000 miles||10 years or 100,000 miles||Corrosion warranty for 7 years|
|Volkswagen||4 years or 50,000 miles||6 years or 72,000 miles||Free service for 2 years or 24,000 miles|
|Jaguar||5 years or 60,000 miles||5 years or 60,000 miles||Roadside assistance for 5 years|
Common Drivetrain Warranty Repairs and Costs
Many people wonder if an upfront or monthly payment toward a drivetrain warranty is a cost-effective choice. After evaluating some of the most common drivetrain repairs through RepairPal.com and CarTreatments.com, we think the numbers speak for themselves.
|Transfer case replacement||$2,771–$2,896|
|Axle shaft replacement||$836–$932|
|CV joint replacement||$1,053–$1,100|
|Axle shaft seal replacement||$244–$298|
|Transmission mount replacement||$264–$292|
Do New Vehicle Warranties Include Drivetrain Coverage?
When you purchase a new vehicle, the factory warranty that comes included will likely provide drivetrain coverage through the bumper-to-bumper warranty and powertrain warranty.
The bumper-to-bumper warranty covers virtually everything on the vehicle except for “wear items” like tires, brake pads, and windshield wipers, along with routine maintenance including oil changes and tire rotations. Most bumper-to-bumper warranties last for at least 3 years or 36,000 miles.
The powertrain coverage offered by most manufacturers usually lasts beyond the bumper-to-bumper warranty. As discussed above, this type of coverage includes the drivetrain.
Although a powertrain warranty doesn’t cover as many components as a bumper-to-bumper warranty, it does cover the repair or replacement of everything that moves the car from the engine and transmission to constant velocity joints and axle shafts. Typically, most powertrain warranties last for at least 5 years or 60,000 miles.
Is An Extended Drivetrain Warranty Worth it?
While an extended drivetrain warranty lacks coverage for the engine, it does include many of the other most essential – and sometimes most costly – repairs. It’s also important to note that an extended drivetrain warranty generally lasts significantly longer than an extended bumper-to-bumper warranty.
An extended drivetrain warranty can provide you with peace of mind knowing that your car’s most important systems are covered in the event of a breakdown. It can also add value to your car if you ever decide to sell it and the warranty is transferable.
However, the warranty you need depends on your current situation. So, we recommend comparing multiple coverage options and costs to get the best deal possible to protect your vehicle.
Drivetrain Warranty: Conclusion
Drivetrain warranties provide you with great coverage for the parts that allow your vehicle to move. While coverage may not be as inclusive as with a powertrain or bumper-to-bumper warranty, it can help to offset repair costs for major components of your car. As with any warranty, we recommend weighing provider coverage options and costs before making a decision.
Recommended Drivetrain Warranty Providers
We researched the most popular extended car warranty companies and rated them on reputation, coverage, customer service, and extra benefits. Based on our findings, we think it’s important to consider the following companies when making a decision about an extended drivetrain warranty.
Best Coverage: Endurance
Endurance, which offers direct-to-consumer extended service plans, received a 4.6-star rating from our team. Endurance stands out among its competitors in the following ways:
- Repair options: Endurance allows automobile owners to choose from any repair shop certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) to complete their covered repairs.
- Covers automobiles with high mileage: Endurance offers extended service plans for automobiles with up to 200,000+ miles. This mileage rate is much higher than with most other providers.
- Gold-level certification from the Vehicle Protection Association: The Vehicle Protection Association (VPA) is a nonprofit organization that checks if its member companies are using the best business practices. Few companies hold a gold-level certification from the VPA, so this accomplishment by Endurance is impressive.
Here’s a closer look at Endurance warranty plans:
|Supreme||Bumper-to-bumper coverage with only a few listed exclusions|
|Superior||Highest level of stated component coverage, including hundreds of listed parts|
|Secure Plus||Comprehensive coverage for all major vehicle parts, including steering, brakes, and suspension|
|Secure||Basic powertrain coverage, including the engine and drivetrain|
|Select Premier||Plan for high-mileage vehicles with an extensive inclusion list that focuses on the powertrain|
|EnduranceAdvantage™||Covers mechanical breakdowns as well as maintenance|
Drivetrain Warranty: FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions about drivetrain warranties:
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of extended auto warranty companies to formulate rankings of the best providers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Warranty providers with a history of strong business practices and endorsements from experts receive the highest scores in this category.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of extended warranty plans available, coverage terms, and added benefits like roadside assistance.
- Cost: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of plans and vehicles. Companies with lower prices per year of coverage receive the best scores.
- Transparency: This score takes into account contract transparency and the availability of a money-back guarantee.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and perform our own shopper analysis to get a sense of the responsiveness and helpfulness of each warranty company.