What Does a Car Warranty Cover?

Last Updated on December 13, 2022

A new car comes with a warranty that covers certain repair costs.

Most cars have a basic warranty, with an extended warranty available for a higher price. Some car warranties only cover manufacturers’ defects – similar to a product warranty. Others cover virtually any mechanical breakdown on your vehicle.

What does a car warranty cover? What’s the difference between a factory warranty and a dealership warranty? Keep reading to find out.

What Does a Car Warranty Cover?

Types of Car Warranties

Different car warranties work in different ways.

BMW, for example, offers a basic warranty on all new vehicles. If you bought a new BMW, then this warranty covers you. Many car dealerships also offer extended warranties, bumperto-bumper warranties, and other warranties that provide different coverage. A normal vehicle warranty does not cover tires, although your tire company may offer its own tire warranty.

Confused? Warranties can seem complicated. We’ll break down specific types of warranty coverage below.

Factory Warranty

All major carmakers offer factory warranties or manufacturer’s warranties. These warranties are available on new cars, certified pre-owned cars, and used cars. If you own a three or four-year-old vehicle with fewer than 30,000 to 50,000 miles, then you may be covered by the factory warranty.

Factory warranties are designed to cover defective parts due to poor workmanship or manufacturing errors. The warranty lasts a specific number of years and miles. Your warranty starts the day you purchase your vehicle.

Factory warranties can be transferred between owners (assuming the warranty has not expired by the time you sell your vehicle).

As of 2020, here are some of the common warranties offered by major car companies:

Chevrolet: 3 years / 36,000 miles (5 years / 60,000 miles drivetrain warranty)

Ford: 3 years/ 36,000 miles (5 years / 60,000 miles drivetrain warranty)

Subaru: 3 years / 36,000 miles (5 years / 60,000 miles drivetrain warranty)

BMW: 4 years / 50,000 miles (4 years / 50,000 miles drivetrain warranty)

Toyota: 3 years / 36,000 miles (5 years /50,000 miles drivetrain warranty)

To view a more detailed comparison of these common warranties, view the table below.

Check your car manufacturer’s warranty coverage. In many cases, you might not have to pay for certain repairs within the first few years of vehicle ownership.

Extended Warranty

An extended warranty extends the basic warranty of your vehicle. It can add years of coverage to your warranty and cover far more vehicle systems.

A basic warranty will cover manufacturing defects and other errors. An extended warranty, however, can extend coverage to systems like:

All Major Vehicle Systems: Most parts of your vehicle are covered by an extended warranty, including everything from your steering system to the air conditioning system (similar to bumper-to-bumper coverage).

Powertrain: Extended warranty covers the engine, transmission, and other powertrain systems.

Roadside Assistance: Many extended warranties include roadside assistance, which means you can get assistance for flat tires, towing, trip interruption, and other issues – just like AAA roadside assistance.

Corrosion: Most extended warranties cover corrosion or rusting within the first few years of ownership.

Normal Wear and Tear: Basic warranties will not cover wear and tear, but extended warranties could cover repairs, replacements, and other issues related to normal vehicle wear and tear.

Extended warranties work similarly to factory warranties, but last longer. You get similar coverage for similar repairs, but you can extend your warranty for 5, 7, or 10 years past the factory warranty expiration date.

You can buy extended warranties from the manufacturer. Or, you can buy extended warranties through third-party companies like CarShield.

It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want an extended warranty. You pay more, but you get significantly more coverage. If you take advantage of your extended warranty, then it could certainly be worth it – but if you never experience vehicle issues, then an extended warranty may not be worth it.

Extended warranties could also increase the resale value of your vehicle. Most extended warranties are transferable, which can significantly enhance their value in the eyes of a buyer.

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty

Bumper-to-bumper warranties offer the maximum coverage for your vehicle. It’s also known as an exclusionary warranty because it only excludes a small number of components.

Bumper-to-bumper warranties are available through both factory warranties and extended warranties. It covers more than a typical warranty and could extend to things like air conditioning systems, steering, high-tech systems (like GPS), and more.

A bumper-to-bumper warranty can cover the following:

  • All major vehicle systems
  • Air conditioning and heating (compressor, condenser, evaporator systems, etc.)
  • Steering systems (power steering, pump, hoses, rack, pinion, etc.)
  • Electrical components (alternator, power windows, locks, sunroofs, etc.)
  • Safety features (passenger airbags, side airbags, driver airbags, seatbelts, etc.)
  • Other systems (backup cameras, lane monitoring systems, GPS, onboard computers, etc.)
  • Hybrid vehicle components (batteries and charging systems, etc.)

Powertrain Warranty

We mentioned the powertrain warranty above. All major car manufacturers offer powertrain warranty coverage. Some car companies have the same basic warranty and powertrain coverage, while other companies provide longer powertrain coverage. You might have a 3-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty, for example, but five years and 50,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

Powertrain coverage covers all of the following components:

Some companies offer powertrain coverage for as long as ten years or 100,000 miles. Most companies offer powertrain coverage between 3 and 5 years.

Powertrain coverage can be important. If there’s a problem with any component listed above, it’s costly to repair. Having good powertrain warranty coverage can help you avoid thousands in repair costs.

Corrosion Warranty

Some dealerships offer corrosion warranty, which covers the cost of repairing corrosion (rust) on your vehicle.

If you live in a winter climate where they salt the roads, then rust can affect the undercarriage of your vehicle. Driving through water (especially salt water) can also increase the chance of rusting.

Factory Warranties by Manufacturer (Compared)

In the table below, we compare factory warranties offered by the top-selling car brands in America:

ManufacturerBumper-to-Bumper WarrantyRoadside Assistance CoveragePowertrain WarrantyCorrosion Warranty
Audi4 years/50,000 miles4 years/unlimited miles4 years/50,000 miles12 years/unlimited miles
BMW4 years/50,000 miles4 years/unlimited miles4 years/50,000 miles12 years/unlimited miles
Cadillac4 years/50,000 miles6 years/70,000 miles6 years/70,000 miles6 years/unlimited miles
Chevrolet3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles6 years/100,000 miles
Ford3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/unlimited miles
Honda3 years/36,000 miles3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/unlimited miles
Hyundai5 years/60,000 miles5 years/unlimited miles10 years/100,000 miles7 years/unlimited miles
Jeep3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/100,000 miles
Mercedes4 years/50,000 miles4 years/50,000 miles4 years/50,000 miles4 years/50,000 miles
Nissan3 years/36,000 miles3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/unlimited miles
Subaru3 years/36,000 miles3 years/36,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/unlimited miles
Toyota3 years/36,000 miles2 years/unlimited miles5 years/60,000 miles5 years/unlimited miles
Volkswagen6 years/72,000 miles3 years/36,000 miles6 years/72,000 miles7 years/100,000 miles
Volvo4 years/50,000 miles4 years/unlimited miles4 years/50,000 miles12 years/unlimited miles

What Is Not Covered by a Warranty?

Warranties cover many aspects of your vehicle. If your vehicle needs significant repairs within the first 3 to 7 years of ownership, then those repairs may be covered by your warranty.

However, certain things are never covered by your basic warranty, including:

Regular Maintenance: All vehicles require regular maintenance over time, and warranties will not cover things like oil changes or tire rotations.

Wear and Tear: Certain components of your vehicle will degrade over time. Wear and tear is an ordinary and expected part of owning a vehicle. For that reason, warranties will not cover brakes, brake pad replacements, clutch issues, windshield wipers, headlight or tail light bulbs, and similar issues.

Exterior Damage: Warranties will not cover scratches, dings, windshield cracks, and other body panel damage.

Interior Damage: Vehicle warranty does not extend to ordinary interior damage. If you tear a hole in your leather seat, for example, or stain your carpet, then the warranty will not cover this damage.

Accident Damage: Your car insurance will cover accident damages, although warranties do not cover accidental damage.

Environmental Damage: Warranties will not protect you against wind damage, fire damage, flood damage, salt, sand, hail, or other environmental issues.

Alterations or Added Components: Warranties will not cover any items you have added to your vehicle, like aftermarket parts.

Extended warranties could cover some of these components – like wear and tear. Check your extended warranty documentation to verify.

Warranties & Tire Coverage

Most car warranties do not cover tires, although some warranties have limited tire coverage.

Tires wear down over time. Tire wear and tear is expected. If you drive your car enough miles, you will eventually have to replace your tires. Warranties do not cover ordinary wear and tear, so tires are not generally covered.

Some manufacturers, including Lincoln, have a limited tire warranty included in the basic warranty. Most manufacturers, however, have no tire coverage.

You may be able to buy a separate tire warranty through your tire manufacturer. A typical tire warranty lasts 4 to 6 years or a certain number of miles or amount of tread life. Generally, this warranty is included in your tire purchase by default.

Tire warranties will not cover certain issues, including punctured tires caused by road hazards, vandalism, etc. However, they should cover any unexpected failures within the first few years of ownership.

Final Word on Car Warranties

Warranties vary among car manufacturers. All car warranties cover basic things – like powertrain problems and manufacturer’s defects. However, it’s important to read your warranty policy to determine what is covered. Different companies have different warranties.

If you want maximum coverage, then consider buying an extended warranty. Extended warranties cover wear and tear and certain vehicle systems not covered by a basic warranty. Some drivers are willing to pay for the added peace of mind, while others are not.

All new cars come with a 3 to 7-year warranty that provides basic protection against manufacturing defects and powertrain breakdowns. To cover more components, however, you’ll need an extended warranty, bumper-to-bumper coverage, or a similar policy.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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