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What Does a Car Warranty Cover?

A car warranty offsets the cost of repairing or replacing certain parts of your vehicle. It comes in handy if you’re not prepared to pay the cost of these fixes—especially if the repairs are hundreds or thousands of dollars. It works similarly to a home warranty, an appliance warranty, or another type of protection plan.

What does a car warranty cover? Your answer depends on details like the type of warranty, your level of coverage, and the brand of car. Rely on the auto warranty and insurance and warranty experts at CARCHEX to answer all of your questions and find the right car warranty for you.

Types of Car Warranties

When you’re investigating what type of warranty would best suit your vehicle, you quickly learn that you have several options.

Factory Warranty

When you buy a car from a dealership, it’s likely you will also leave with a factory or manufacturer’s warranty. This type of warranty is usually offered for new cars, certified pre-owned cars, and used cars, but the details may vary accordingly. It’s meant to cover any defective parts due to poor workmanship or a manufacturer error.

The length of your factory warranty is based on a certain number of years or miles—whatever comes first. A factory warranty is generally transferable between owners if it hasn’t expired when you sell your car.

Here are examples of popular automakers and their warranties for 2020:

Automaker Basic Warranty  Powertrain Warranty
BMW 4 years / 50,000 miles 4 years / 50,000 miles
Buick 4 years / 50,000 miles 6 years / 70,000 miles
Chevrolet 3 years / 36,000 miles 5 years / 60,000 miles
Ford 3 years / 36,000 miles 5 years / 60,000 miles
Hyundai 5 years/ 60,000 miles 10 years / 100,000 miles
Kia 5 years / 60,000 miles 10 years / 100,000 miles
Lexus 4 years / 50,000 miles 6 years / 70,000 miles
Nissan 3 years / 36,000 miles 5 years / 60,000 miles
Subaru 3 years / 36,000 miles 5 years / 60,000 miles
Toyota 3 years / 36,000 miles 5 years / 60,000 miles
Volvo 4 years / 50,000 miles 4 years / 50,000 miles
Mercedes 4 years / 50,000 miles 4 years / 50,000 miles

Extended Warranty

Once your factory warranty expires, you have the option of purchasing an extended warranty. Coverage plan options for extended warranties may be different than your factory warranty. Also, you aren’t limited to buying an extended warranty from the manufacturer. Many drivers choose to purchase an extended vehicle protection plan for more affordable, customizable coverage from a trusted third-party provider like CARCHEX.

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty

A basic, bumper-to-bumper warranty is the most comprehensive coverage you can get for your vehicle. It’s also called an exclusionary warranty because it lists a short number of components that are not included in the coverage. This type of warranty is usually offered for both factory and extended warranties. The standard length of a bumper-to-bumper warranty is three years or 36,000 miles, but your specific warranty may last longer.

Bumper-to-bumper warranties can include:

  • All major vehicle systems
  • Air conditioning and heating (compressor, condenser, evaporator, etc.)
  • Electrical components (alternator, power windows, doors locks, sunroofs, etc.)
  • Steering (rack and pinion, power steering pump, power steering hoses, etc.)
  • Safety features (airbags, seat belts, etc.)
  • High-tech systems (cameras, GPS, etc.)
  • Hybrid vehicle parts (batteries)

Powertrain Warranty

A powertrain warranty covers your vehicle’s powertrain, which includes:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Axles
  • Drive shafts
  • Seals
  • Gaskets
  • Transfer case
  • And more

The coverage period of a powertrain warranty is usually longer than a bumper-to-bumper warranty—five years or 60,000 miles. Some last as long as 10 years or 100,000 miles.

The cost to repair parts of your powertrain doesn’t come cheap. According to Car Care Council, replacing the engine alone can cost several thousand dollars. That’s why many car owners chose to purchase powertrain warranties, even if it’s the lowest level of coverage.

Can You Afford To Pay These Repair Costs?

Corrosion Warranty

This warranty is meant to cover the cost of repairing corrosion on your vehicle, such as rust. Corrosion can cause damage to the car’s exterior from environmental factors such as salty air, water causing rust, and other environmental factors.

What’s Not Covered in a Car Warranty?

In general, these items aren’t covered in a car warranty or have limited coverage:

  • Regular maintenance—routine oil changes, tire rotations, etc.
  • Wear and tear items—brakes, brake pads, clutches, windshield wiper replacements, headlight bulbs, etc.
  • Exterior or body panel damage—dings and scratches in the paint
  • Interior damage—holes in the seats, broken plastic, etc.
  • Damage caused by improper car care—skipping regular maintenance, reckless driving, etc.
  • Damage from an accident—dents in the exterior, broken glass, etc.
  • Damage from environmental factors—tree sap, salt, sand, hail, wind, etc.
  • Alterations or modifications—installing non-Ford parts, tampering with the odometer, etc.

It’s important to read your specific warranty and understand the details for yourself. Your car’s manufacturer and warranty may have a different plan or a level of coverage. Read the warranties of these automakers to know what to expect from your car warranty coverage:

Are Tires Covered Under Warranties?

Tires are usually counted as wear and tear items and aren’t covered under an auto warranty. However, this isn’t always the case. Some factory warranties, including those for Lincolns, have a limited tire warranty.

Warranties that cover tires are offered separately by the tire manufacturer. According to TireBuyer.com, these warranties usually last four to six years, the length of the tread life, or a certain amount of miles. Talk to your tire manufacturer what your warranty covers. Not all include road hazard coverage, such as fixing a flat tire that was punctured while driving. Also, similar to vehicle protection plans, your plan may be voided if you haven’t followed proper maintenance standards, including regularly rotating and inflating your tires.

What’s Covered in an Extended Warranty?

Whether you purchase your extended warranty from the manufacturer or third-party provider, it’s likely that you’ll be able to choose from several coverage plans. The more expensive or high-level the plan, the more car parts and repairs it covers.

Extended warranties can cover:

  • All major vehicle systems—If you purchase a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty, most parts of your vehicle are covered, including air conditioning.
  • Powertrain—The engine, transmission, and other key parts of this system are covered.
  • Corrosion—Your extended warranty may protect you from paying for damage caused by rust.
  • Roadside assistance—Many extended warranties include around-the-clock roadside assistance, which can include towing, trip interruption service, and more.
  • Normal wear and tear—While factory warranties cover defective materials or workmanship, some extended warranties also cover repairs and replacements from regular use.

Should I Buy an Extended Warranty?

After your factory warranty expires, the cost of your car repairs is no longer covered. That means you are responsible for paying the full auto repair bill—no matter what part or how expensive. Extended car warranties help offset these costs. By paying an affordable monthly amount, it’s less likely you’ll have to foot the complete repair cost.

People also choose to buy an extended warranty because it provides peace of mind. If you would sleep better at night knowing that you won’t be surprised by any costly auto repair bills, you may want to purchase an extended warranty.

Another thing to consider is how long you plan to keep the car. Do you have plans to sell your vehicle? If your warranty is transferable, having one can increase your resale value, according to AAA. On the other hand, if you plan to drive the car for years to come, it’s bound to need repairs. Your warranty can cover the costs.

Cost of an Extended Warranty

What you pay for an extended car warranty is largely dependent on your specific plan. Here are the factors that make up the cost of your extended warranty:

  • Who made your car—Luxury cars and expensive models usually drive up the cost of your warranty due to pricey replacement parts.
  • When your car was made—Warranties for older cars may cost more than newer cars since they generally need more repairs.
  • How many miles are on the car—Cars with high mileage are more expensive to cover.
  • What condition the car is in—If your car isn’t reliable or is damaged, expect a higher warranty cost.
  • What the car warranty covers—Warranties that include more vehicle systems are more expensive.
  • If your plan includes a deductible—Plans with deductibles have lower premiums.
  • The provider—Whether you purchase your extended warranty from a dealership or third-party company can affect the cost. For example, the cost of a car warranty from a dealership may be wrapped into your car’s finance plan, meaning you’re paying interest on it.

Make sure to get several quotes and ask questions when shopping around for an extended warranty. Knowing how much it costs helps you determine whether it’s the right purchase to protect your vehicle.

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Considering Your Car Warranty Options

As you think about what type of extended auto warranty you want to purchase, ask yourself these questions:

What does the car warranty cover?

Do you want comprehensive coverage with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, or are you most concerned about protecting your powertrain?

Is my car reliable?

If the make and model of your car is known to need several repairs, or if you have a luxury vehicle with expensive parts, an extended warranty can help cover those costs.

How much does the warranty cost?

Is the monthly cost car warranty coverage more affordable than your car's most commonly reported repair costs after a breakdown?

Who should provide my warranty?

Car manufacturers and third-party providers both offer extended warranties. What are the best third-party auto warranty companies?

Benefits of CARCHEX Vehicle Protection Plans

CARCHEX is considered a third-party auto warranty company. We have a team of experts who are committed to helping you understand your options and purchase the right plan for your budget, vehicle, and specific needs. When CARCHEX provides your extended vehicle protection plan, you can expect to enjoy these benefits:

  • Trusted throughout the industry—Our partnerships and endorsements come from Kelley Blue Book, SiriusXM, RepairPal, CARFAX, Autoblog, The Motoring Club, and more.
  • Freedom to choose your repair shop—Manufacturer warranties require you to use their dealership facilities, technicians, and parts, which are known to be pricey. CARCHEX allows you the flexibility of working with your own trusted mechanic or auto shop. If you prefer to use the dealership service center, that’s approved, too.
  • Direct payments to the repair shop—CARCHEX pays repair shops directly, so you don’t have to shell out the cost then wait for reimbursement.
  • Five quality coverage levels—We offer a wide range of plans, from comprehensive coverage to protection for your car’s essential systems.
  • Bonus features—All of our coverage plans include 24/7 roadside assistance, offering gas delivery, towing, trip interruption services, rental cars, and more.
  • Exceptional customer service—Dedicated to helping you understand car warranties and your needs, Customer Experience Above All is our promise. What’s more, the Better Business Bureau gives us an A+ customer service rating.
  • Affordable prices—In addition to our low monthly payments, ask us about our No-Haggle, Low-Price, Everyday Guarantee™, and 30-Day Money Back Guarantee when you purchase an Extended Vehicle Protection Plan from CARCHEX.

What Does a CARCHEX Protection Plan Cover?

At CARCHEX, we offer several vehicle protection plans that are designed to be flexible and customizable, and satisfy the needs of our customers.

Choose from Titanium—our highest level of coverage—to Bronze, which covers your essential vehicle systems.

  • Titanium Coverage (up to 10 years)—This plan is most similar to a basic warranty from your dealership and is our bumper-to-bumper coverage level. It has only a short list of excluded items.
  • Platinum Coverage (up to 10 years)—Offering the highest number of stated-component coverage, this plan covers hundreds of car parts and all major vehicle systems.
  • Gold Coverage (up to 10 years)—This protection plan is ideal for vehicles with over 60,000 miles and includes all major systems.
  • Silver Coverage (up to 7 years)—Much more than a basic powertrain warranty, Silver Coverage provides essential coverage to your car’s major systems.
  • Bronze Coverage (up to 6 years)—CARCHEX offers this plan to protect our customers from the most common and expensive repairs to the engine, transmission, and major systems on your vehicle.
CARCHEX Vehicle Protection Plans

FAQ: What a Car Warranty Covers

What is a car warranty?

A warranty on a car is a contract between the provider and the car owner. These vehicle service contracts determine what repairs and replacements are covered under the warranty, what the owner pays for, and for how many years and/or miles the warranty lasts.

How do car warranties work?

A car owner submits a claim to the provider (whether a dealer or a third-party warranty company), who determines whether the repair or replacements is covered under the warranty. If it’s covered, the owner takes their car to the approved facility to complete the repair. The best warranty providers pay the auto shop up front and don’t make car owners pay then wait for reimbursement.

Can a warranty cover a used car?

Yes, many providers offer warranties for used cars, including those with over 100,000 miles. If you buy a used car from a dealership, it’s likely that it will also come with a warranty. There may be some differences in what the used car warranty covers—compared to a new car warranty—so make sure to discuss that with the provider before you buy.

Learn more about the best used car warranty companies.

If my car is under warranty, do I have to pay for a service?

It depends on the service. If your car is under warranty but the repair or replacement itself is not covered, then you will have to pay for the service.

What is included in a basic car warranty?

A basic warranty is another name for a bumper-to-bumper warranty, which covers most systems and parts of your vehicle, with a short list of exceptions.

Does a car warranty cover accidental damage?

No, a car warranty doesn’t cover accidental damage. However, insurance companies may provide coverage instead.

What does a mechanical warranty cover?

Mechanical breakdown insurance is similar to an extended car warranty in that it’s a service contract. They both pay for car repairs and replacements, but mechanical breakdown insurance will likely not cover repairs from normal wear and tear.

How do I check to see if my car is still under warranty?

To check your car’s warranty, first, find your vehicle identification number (VIN), or at least know your car’s make, model, and model year. Call the manufacturer and provide the information, or check online at a site like Auto Consumer Info.

What parts are covered under an extended warranty?

What’s covered under an extended car warranty depends on your specific warranty. In general, they can include the powertrain (engine, transmission, etc.), air conditioning, alternator, gaskets and seals, electrical components, safety restraints, and more.

Helping You Understand What a Car Warranty Covers

Whether you want to understand what a bumper-to-bumper covers or how much to expect to pay for a car warranty, trust the guidance of the auto warranty and insurance experts at CARHEX. We can answer the question of what a car warranty covers and what plan is the best protection for your vehicle.

Call 866-261-3457 to speak with one of our representatives and get a quote today.



Nerd Wallet: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/auto-loans/car-warranties/

Your Mechanic: https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/what-is-a-powertrain-warranty-and-why-does-it-matter-by-jason-unrau

Car Care Council: http://www.carcare.org/ask-the-tech/engine-problems-and-your-options/

Autotrader: https://www.autotrader.com/car-shopping/buying-a-car-what-doesnt-the-warranty-cover-238887

FTC: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0138-auto-warranties-routine-maintenance

Toyota: https://www.toyota.com/owners/resources/owners-manuals

Honda: http://owners.honda.com/vehicles/warranty

BMW: http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/Explore/BMWValue/BMWMaintenance/ServiceandWarrantyBooks.aspx

Lincoln: http://www.fordservicecontent.com/Ford_Content/Catalog/owner_information/2018-Lincoln-Car-Lt-Truck-Warranty-version-2_frdwa_EN-US_07_2017.PDF

Cadillac: http://www.cadillac.com/ownership/warranty-repairs

Chrysler: https://www.mopar.com/chrysler/en-us/care/current-model-year-coverage.html

Ford: https://www.ford.com/cmslibs/content/dam/brand_ford/en_us/brand/resources/general/pdf/warranty/2020-Ford-Car-LT-Truck-Warranty-version-1_frdwa_EN-US_04_2019.pdf

Kia: https://www.kia.com/us/content/dam/kia/us/en/images/warranty/manual/general-warranty-and-consumer-info/2020_warranty.pdf

Subaru: https://www.subaru.com/owners/vehicle-warranty/warranties-2018.html

Nissan: https://www.nissanusa.com/content/dam/Nissan/us/Nissan_Commercial_Vehicles/ncv_owners/manuals-guides/pdfs/2019/2019-nissan-warranty-booklet.pdf

Edmunds.com: https://www.edmunds.com/auto-warranty/understanding-tire-warranties.html

TireBuyer: https://www.tirebuyer.com/education/understanding-your-warranty

AAA: https://exchange.aaa.com/automotive/car-buying-and-selling/car-resale-value/#.XBk1oBNKhTY

Better Business Bureau: https://www.bbb.org/greater-maryland/business-reviews/extended-warranty-contract-service-companies/carchex-in-hunt-valley-md-23015869

FTC: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0054-auto-service-contracts-and-warranties

CARCHEX 118 Shawan Road, Suite 210 Baltimore, MD 21030 (FL License # E155490)

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We proudly offer the CARCHEX No-Haggle, Lowest Price Everyday Guarantee™ for all of our auto warranty and car inspection programs.
Consistent with consumers’ understandings and expectations of the market in which CARCHEX operates, CARCHEX uses the terms “warranty”; “extended warranty”, “extended auto warranty”, “extended service protection plan” and similar terms to describe the more technical term “vehicle service contracts”. For more information, see this FTC link or learn more here or by reviewing CARCHEX’s website.
CARCHEX markets and sells extended warranties on behalf of third party extended warranty providers, and your extended warranty will be between you and the provider. This website site is intended solely for the purpose of providing general information regarding the purchase of extended warranties. Specific contract terms, rates, taxes, fees and other charges are determined upon validation of vehicle information and acceptance by the extended warranty provider, for which CARCHEX is not responsible. Extended warranties may not be sold where prohibited by law.
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