Car Warranty Guide

Learn more about auto warranties with detailed research, rankings, and guides.


  • Research & Reviews
  • Automaker Extended Warranties
  • Brand Reviews
  • Cost and Pricing
  • Q&A’s

What Is an Auto Warranty?

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.

Bumper-To-Bumper Warranty

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:

  • Braking
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • 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 Warranty

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.

Survey Results

We conducted a survey in 2022 that polled 1,000 extended warranty customers. According to our results, over half of respondents bought their warranty from the dealership rather than a third-party provider, which only accounted for nearly a quarter of respondents. About half of those polled bought bumper-to-bumper coverage.

Of the respondents who used their warranties to cover repairs, 69% said their warranty covered all repairs for their vehicle. Of those who said their repairs were covered, most said the claim and repair process only took two to three days. However, for those where repairs weren’t covered, the most common reason was the warranty didn’t cover the specific part needed.

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.

Average Car Warranty Costs

In our 2022 survey of customers who purchased extended car warranties, we also asked questions about how much they paid for their coverage. We found that half of respondents paid between $1,615 and $3,208 in total for their warranties. A quarter of respondents paid less and a quarter of respondents paid more.

Similarly, in our survey from 2021 that also polled 1,000 extended warranty customers, we found that about 63% of respondents paid between $1,500 and $3,000 overall. This shows that prices have gone up slightly year over year, but are still staying within the same range for the majority of buyers.

Along with a survey, we also got quotes from third-party warranty providers. We found that the average overall cost of an extended car warranty is $3,026.

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.

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Our Methodology

Our team prides itself on providing accurate and unbiased information about car warranty companies to help inform consumers’ purchasing decisions. We’ve collected data from dozens of warranty providers about their industry standing, coverage, cost, transparency, and customer service to determine the top companies on the market.

Our Research Process

Our process is backed by more than 1,500 hours of research into leading providers in the warranty industry. We collect over 2,200 data points related to key rating factors to provide a thorough picture of each warranty company. To ensure we’re providing you with the most up-to-date information, we update our research several times each year.

Our team has also surveyed 2,000 consumers who have purchased an extended auto warranty. We use information from respondents to get a clear sense of the customer experience, ranging from satisfaction with different aspects of their warranty coverage to which factors are most important when purchasing a coverage plan.

Lastly, to obtain first-hand product knowledge our team bought five warranty plans from separate providers to test the coverage levels and claims process of each company.

We use the research to generate an overall score for each company that we review. Read our full car warranty review methodology.

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