For maximum protection, an “exclusionary” extended warranty can give car buyers peace of mind for the long haul.

 

Buyers keep cars an average of seven years, and the average age of cars on the road now nears 12 years old. This data from IHS Markit shows us why an extended warranty is becoming an appealing option for more and more buyers. Such warranties are available from new car dealers and third-party providers, giving buyers ample choices.

The most comprehensive type of extended warranty plan is sometimes referred to as “bumper-to-bumper,” a term that carmakers sometimes use on their new vehicle warranties. Such warranties cover nearly everything on the vehicle, usually with a brief list of exclusions, most often related to maintenance and wear-and-tear items. That’s why they're more accurately referred to as “exclusionary warranties.”

It makes sense to compare bumper-to-bumper extended warranty plans offered by the dealer to those of third-party providers to find one that ideally suits your unique needs and budget. Compare quotes between some of the best extended auto warranty providers in the industry.

 

In this article:

Are New Vehicle Warranties Really “Bumper-to-Bumper”?

Some confusion may arise from a difference between a new vehicle limited warranty, sometimes called “bumper-to-bumper,” and a powertrain warranty. These warranties often differ in term lengths. 

For example, some mainstream brands, including Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota, provide a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which covers the vehicle’s engine, transmission and driveline. Meanwhile, the new vehicle warranties from all of those brands run for 3 years/36,000 miles.

Hyundai and Kia lead the pack with 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle warranties and 10-year/10,000-mile powertrain warranties. Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand does the same. Other luxury brands vary, many offering 4-year/50,000-mile new vehicle warranties. Some, including Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus, and Lincoln provide a 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Hyundai and Kia, just as two examples, do not refer to their 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle warranties as “bumper-to-bumper” coverage. One reason is that the audio, entertainment, and navigation systems are covered by a separate warranty that runs for a shorter 3-year/36,000-mile term.

If you choose a hybrid or electric vehicle, you’re already getting extended coverage on certain components, including electric motors and battery packs. Such coverage may run up to 10 years/100,000 miles, but the rest of the car won’t have that longer coverage.

With many new vehicles, you can download the manufacturer’s warranty booklet from the brand’s website to review it before purchasing a car. Spending 10 to 15 minutes reading it is time well spent. 

What “Bumper-to-Bumper” Really Means

A “comprehensive” or exclusionary warranty generally covers:

  • Powertrain (engine, transmission, certain driveline parts)
  • Engine cooling system
  • Steering system
  • Suspension
  • Fuel injection system
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Electrical (including power seats, sunroofs, heated seats, etc.)

An Important Note About Vehicle Electronics

Remember the tidbit about Hyundai and Kia covering audio and navigation systems for less time and miles than the main vehicle warranty? You will sometimes find that some extended warranties don’t cover these features unless you specifically choose such an option. There is a good reason to do so: According to the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability StudySM for 2020, audio, communication, entertainment, and navigation technology “still account for more problems than any other category in the study.”

These systems use more robust electronic components than, for example, personal audio equipment, because they must function under a wider range of conditions. Parking a vehicle outside can subject these systems to extreme interior temperatures from season to season. As a consequence of their specialized electronic components, these systems can be very expensive to replace if they fail.

Types Of Extended Warranties

Extended warranty options vary by brand. Many offer a choice of coverage levels, including comprehensive plans that cover most parts of the vehicle, with certain previously mentioned exclusions. Some also offer powertrain-only extensions. Such a plan can be an economical choice to cover what are usually the most expensive parts of a car.

Chevrolet is one brand that offers a true extended warranty on new vehicles. Selecting this option simply extends the 3-year/36,000-mile new vehicle warranty to 5 years/60,000 miles, the same term as the standard powertrain warranty. We think that could be a good choice for Chevy buyers. However, you have to make that decision at the time of the vehicle purchase.

Extended Warranty For Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles come with a warranty, which is a key reason people buy them. In most cases, you get any remaining part of the original new vehicle warranty, plus, for example, another 1-year/12,000 miles of comprehensive coverage.

You may also get extended powertrain coverage with a CPO vehicle. In addition to a 1-year/12,000-mile comprehensive warranty, Ford CPO vehicles come with 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty coverage. For the latter, that means 7 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first, from the date the vehicle was placed into service when new.

From there, you might still want to invest in an extended warranty to take over when the CPO warranty expires. Recall that statistic about Americans keeping their cars longer. One reason the average age of cars on the road has risen to nearly 12 years old is that many modern vehicles last longer than their older counterparts. No modern car, no matter how good its quality ratings from J.D. Power or Consumer Reports, will be problem-free over its entire service life. An extended warranty can protect you from a financial hit for a major auto repair down the road.

Which Bumper-To-Bumper Extended Warranty Is Best For You?

While auto brands tend to offer comprehensive extended warranties with one or two levels of coverage, third-party warranty providers usually offer variations that let you tailor the level of coverage to your particular needs. Examine all the plans a provider offers, and then see which level of coverage and length of term makes the most sense for the price.

  • Endurance offers a top-level exclusionary plan called Supreme. Below that is the Superior plan, which is comprehensive but not as broad. All Endurance plans include Elite Membership, which includes such perks as 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 replacements per year.
  • CARCHEX offers several comprehensive plans, including Gold, Platinum, and the top-of-line Titanium. The Titanium plan is a true exclusionary plan, which means it covers everything on the vehicle minus a brief list of excluded items. You may find, however, that the less-expensive Platinum level meets your needs for coverage.
  • CarShield offers a top-line product called New Car Diamond that essentially duplicates what a new vehicle warranty offers. Just below that is the more affordable CarShield Platinum plan, which is still quite comprehensive and is a solid coverage option for older or higher-mileage vehicles.

Look For These Must-Have Warranty Benefits

When considering any extended warranty plan, whether from the dealer of a third-party provider, make sure the plan is transferable if you sell the vehicle (most are), and look for the following critical benefits:

  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Towing coverage
  • Trip interruption services or reimbursement
  • Choice of deductibles
  • Monthly payment plans

Freedom Of Choice Equals Better Warranty Value

Whether you call it “bumper-to-bumper” or not, an exclusionary extended warranty can provide peace of mind after the purchase of a new, used, or CPO vehicle. The aftermarket offers some solid alternatives to dealer extended warranties.

Contact one or all of our top-rated providers to assess their extended warranty plans and prices before you shop for a car. It may be the most important option you purchase for your car.

 

Q&A: Bumper-to-Bumper Extended Warranty

Q: It seems that many new car warranties and extended warranties don't cover brake parts. Why?

A: Brake components including rotors and pads are usually excluded, because those parts wear out from everyday usage. Every driver wears out the brakes at different rates. Someone who drives 10,000 mostly local miles in a year will almost certainly cause more brake wear than someone who drives 10,000 mostly highway miles.

Q: Where do I get my car repaired with an extended warranty?

A: With an automaker’s extended warranty, you usually must get covered repairs done at one of the brand’s dealers. With a mainstream brand like Chevy, there are thousands of dealers across the country, which is a positive. But with some luxury or niche brands, the number of dealers is far smaller, sometimes just a few hundred. As one example, Mitsubishi, which offers a line of affordable vehicles, has just 350 dealers across the U.S.

A key benefit of a third-party extended warranty from one of our top providers is that it enables you to get repairs performed at any one of about 30,000 repair facilities nationwide.

Q: If I accidentally poke a hole in the seat with a pen, or if my child spills juice onto one of the audio system speakers, will the extended warranty cover the damage?

A: Those are examples of owner-caused damage or neglect, not manufacturing or material defects. So, no, a warranty won’t cover that. Also, after years of everyday usage, the upholstery and other surfaces in the car may show signs of fade or wear. That’s normal and not considered a defect or failure.

Q: Does “bumper-to-bumper” include the bumpers?

A: A bumper is unlikely to be damaged unless in an accident, or if struck by something like a stone. New car and aftermarket warranties don’t cover dings, dents, and scratches to any parts of the vehicle.

Q: I’m thinking of using my car to be an Uber driver. Does an extended warranty cover me?

A: New car and aftermarket warranties don’t cover vehicles used for taxi, limousine or “for-hire” purposes, and that includes ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.

Read our other guides: