All new vehicles come equipped with a warranty, but what does a car warranty cover? It is important that you understand which components of your vehicle are covered so you don’t find yourself financially responsible for damage caused by a manufacturing error.
In this guide, we’ll go over the types of warranties and what each level of coverage includes. We’ll also clarify the difference between a manufacturer warranty and an extended warranty.
If your factory warranty has already expired and you need extended coverage, we recommend you look into the most reputable extended car warranty companies. Our team has reviewed the best extended auto warranty providers, and you can get free quotes from a few of our top picks below.
What Is an Auto Warranty?
A car warranty is an agreement from your vehicle’s manufacturer to cover the cost of repairing or replacing damaged parts of your vehicle. It’s the automaker’s guarantee that all of the parts on your vehicle are in proper working condition. Damage that’s covered under a car warranty typically has to be due to mechanical failure or faulty materials or workmanship. Car warranties are valid for an established period of time or mileage after the purchase of the car.
What Does a Car Warranty Cover?
The warranty that comes with your vehicle is typically broken down into individual levels of coverage. The length of each level of coverage depends on the make of your vehicle, as each car brand will have different terms. Let’s take a look at the most common types of car warranties and what’s covered under each.
A bumper-to-bumper warranty, also known as a basic limited warranty, covers damage to almost every component of your vehicle between the front and rear bumpers. The following components and systems are generally covered with a bumper-to-bumper warranty:
- Vehicle body
- Fuel delivery
- Air conditioning and heating
- Electronics and electrical systems
- Engine, transmission, and drive axles
Each car brand will have its own coverage term limits, but the standard length of a bumper-to-bumper warranty is 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some car brands offer longer warranties, such as Kia and Hyundai, which both offer 5 years/60,000 miles of coverage.
Powertrain warranties last longer than bumper-to-bumper warranties but cover fewer components. They cover the components that make your car move, such as the engine, transmission, and drive systems. Like bumper-to-bumper warranties, a powertrain warranty only covers damage caused by manufacturer errors or flawed workmanship.
The powertrain components of your vehicle are some of the most expensive parts, and repairs can cost thousands of dollars. According to RepairPal, the cost to replace the transmission on a 2018 Ford Focus is around $6,000.
The standard length of a powertrain warranty is usually 5 years/60,000 miles, but some manufacturers, like Kia and Hyundai, offer 10-year/100,000-mile warranties.
Other Types Of Warranties
Specialty warranties of varying term lengths are also likely to be included in your car’s new vehicle warranty package. Some of the common coverages you may see are:
- Federal emissions warranty: The federal government requires that manufacturers cover certain emission-related parts for a specified period of time. California has additional emissions regulations, which many other states have also adopted.
- Corrosion, anti-rust, or perforation warranty: This type of warranty covers repairs or replacements of any sheet metal panels that rust through due to premature corrosion.
- Hybrid vehicle warranty: Hybrid vehicle components require different coverages than standard vehicles.
- Safety restraint system warranty: This warranty covers seat belts, air bags, and other safety features that fail to function.
- Battery warranty: This warranty covers the replacement of your car’s battery if it does not hold a charge properly.
In addition to bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties, your manufacturer’s warranty is likely to include extra benefits like roadside assistance, towing, and rental car reimbursement.
What Doesn’t A Car Warranty Cover?
Every warranty comes with exclusions, which are pretty standard across all providers and car brands. Here are the main items you should not expect your warranty to cover:
- Routine maintenance services like oil changes and tire rotations
- Wear-and-tear items like tires, brakes, brake pads, clutches, windshield wiper replacements,
- and light bulbs
- Exterior body damage
- Interior damage
- Damage caused by driver negligence like missing routine maintenance
- Damage from an accident
- Damage from environmental factors
- Theft and vandalism
To make sure you understand the details and coverage limits of your warranty, it is best to read the fine print of your contract.
What is an Extended Car Warranty?
An extended auto warranty, better known as a vehicle service contract, is purchased separately from your vehicle and acts as an extension of the coverage provided by a manufacturer warranty. If purchased, extended warranty coverage will kick in after your factory warranty has expired.
What Does an Extended Car Warranty Cover?
Extended warranties offer multiple levels of coverage to choose from. Basic plans will only include powertrain coverage, and more inclusive plans will offer comprehensive bumper-to-bumper coverage. Independent warranty providers often offer more coverage levels to choose from than manufacturers. If your car’s warranty is about to expire and you want to extend coverage, you can either purchase an extended warranty straight from the car dealership or you can look into a third-party provider.
How Much is an Extended Warranty on a Car?
The cost of an extended car warranty depends on many factors. Some extended warranty plans require one-time payments, while others have the option to pay monthly. Most deductibles are $100, but you can sometimes choose a higher deductible if you want your monthly payments to be lower.
Here are some of the main factors that influence your extended car warranty cost:
- Vehicle: Factors such as your vehicle year, make, and model will impact your premium.
- Coverage level and limits: Plans with more expansive coverage and longer term limits will be more expensive.
- Deductible: You can usually choose your deductible. A higher deductible will make your premium lower. If your car needs a repair, you will have to pay the decided-upon deductible amount.
- Provider: Some providers offer lower costs than others.
To find out how much an extended car warranty would cost for you, we recommend contacting your dealership or a third-party provider for a quote.
Is an Extended Car Warranty Worth it?
An extended car warranty is worth it for someone whose vehicle has expensive repair costs, who plans on driving their vehicle for a long time, or who wants peace of mind while on the road. If that sounds like you, we recommend you look into some reputable third-party providers.
What is an Auto Warranty: Conclusion
Most new vehicles come with auto warranties to provide you peace of mind when your car is damaged and in need of repairs. However, it should be noted repairs or replacements for parts will only be covered if it was due to mistakes during production. Terms and coverage will also differ depending on the type of warranty your vehicle is under. If the term of your warranty runs out, there are many coverage options available to you from automaker dealers or third-party sources. We recommend that you shop around and compare your options to find the best deal for your needs.
You can start getting free quotes from several top-rated providers below.
Recommended Car Warranty Providers
While most manufacturers offer comprehensive coverage plans, many of their coverage options are standard and offer little flexibility. Third-party providers typically offer more tailored coverage options so that you can pay for what you need. Below you can compare some of our top picks for the best-extended car warranty companies.
Endurance: Best Coverage
Endurance offers a top-level exclusionary plan called Supreme. All Endurance plans include Endurance Elite Benefits, which includes perks like 24/7 roadside assistance and one year of key fob replacement coverage. (On many new vehicles, these sophisticated items can cost several hundred dollars to replace.) In addition, the membership covers up to two tire repairs or replacements per year.
CARCHEX: Best for Used Cars
CARCHEX offers several comprehensive plans, including the top-of-line Titanium. The Titanium plan is a true exclusionary extended warranty, similar to a bumper-to-bumper plan. This means it covers everything on the vehicle minus a short list of excluded parts. You also get benefits like roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement.
CarShield: Best Value
CarShield offers Diamond coverage that essentially duplicates what a new vehicle warranty offers. The popular provider is known for its low rates and benefits like roadside assistance and trip interruption coverage. Learn more about plans and benefits in our full CarShield review.
Car Warranty Meaning: FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions about car 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.