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Car Warranty Coverage
A car warranty covers repairs and replacements for specified parts when a vehicle breaks down, but coverage only lasts for a set term and mileage.
Car warranties come with all new vehicles and cover breakdowns associated with defects in vehicle parts and faulty workmanship.
Car warranty coverage can include bumper-to-bumper, powertrain, drivetrain, emissions, and corrosion protection depending on your manufacturer’s terms.
An extended car warranty can provide protection from mechanical breakdowns once your vehicle’s factory warranty expires.
Every new car comes with a car warranty, but what does this coverage provide? In this article, we’ll break down what a car warranty covers including factory, extended, bumper-to-bumper, and powertrain protection plans. Common exclusions for coverage and additional benefits that can come with warranties will also be outlined. Finally, we’ll provide our recommendations for the best extended car warranty companies.
Our review team has spent hundreds of hours researching car warranty companies to help consumers choose the best coverage for their vehicles. Writers and editors evaluate each brand based on industry data and real customers’ experiences, meeting high editorial standards to keep readers informed.
What Does a Car Warranty Cover?
A car warranty covers part breakdowns from defects in vehicle production in addition to labor for repairs. A warranty on a car typically only covers components that fail during routine usage of a vehicle and not wear and tear damages. For example, component systems like the powertrain would be covered under warranty, but routine maintenance like oil changes would not.
Your repair or replacement bill will be fully paid for covered items included in your car warranty terms. However, unless you purchase a lifetime protection plan, coverage is only active for a set mileage and time period. Every vehicle warranty is different, so it’s best to check the terms of your contract to ensure you know what’s covered and for how long.
What Isn’t Covered by a Car Warranty?
Car warranties typically don’t cover things such as:
Normal Wear and Tear: Vehicle parts that wear out regularly–as brake pads, batteries, windows, and tires–will not be covered. You’ll typically need to purchase a separate component-specific warranty to get coverage for these items. However, if a part fails sooner than expected, you may be entitled to a covered repair.
Routine Maintenance: Things such as tune-ups, belt and hose replacements, and tire rotations are not usually covered. However, most automaker dealers offer separate packages to include these types of services under warranty.
Abnormal Use: Damage from actions such as replacing the parts on your car or towing past limits will not be covered. In addition, damages resulting from driving off-road or racing with your vehicle will not be covered. Any non-standard use of your vehicle may also void your warranty.
Accidents, Theft, and Acts of Nature: A car warranty is not an insurance policy, so any accidents related to a collision, theft, or weather-related damages will not be covered. For these types of incidents, you’ll need car insurance for coverage.
Cosmetic Damage: Interior wear and tear, such as chipped plastic and tears in your seats, are not under warranty.
Exterior Damage: Items such as paint marks or scratches on your bumper are not normally covered, but a corrosion warranty may give you some exterior protection.
An extended car warranty may not have these same exclusions and can include some coverages not related to major vehicle systems. Other specialty warranties may also cover corrosion and emissions damages.
Types of Car Warranty Coverage
It’s important to understand the types of car warranty coverage available to both new and used cars, as many warranties come with varying part inclusions, exclusions, and benefits. We’ll break down each car warranty coverage type and terms below so you can compare what each provides.
Bumper-to-Bumper Car Warranty
A bumper-to-bumper car warranty provides the most comprehensive coverage for your car. This coverage includes protection for major parts that make your vehicle move, as well as additional items like air conditioning and power steering. This type of warranty is exclusionary and lists excluded parts in the contract. Anything not listed as an exclusion is covered.
Standard bumper-to-bumper warranties have shorter terms and typically last around 3 years with a limit of 36,000 miles. However, some companies offer plans for up to 5 years and 60,000 miles.
Items and systems typically covered with a bumper-to-bumper warranty include:
Electronic vehicle systems
Air conditioning and heating
Specified emissions parts
Powertrain Car Warranty
Under this warranty coverage, only the powertrain vehicle system, which is responsible for moving your vehicle, is protected if any parts break down. Parts included in your vehicle’s powertrain are as follows:
Engine and its internal components
A powertrain warranty is the longest-lasting plan offered and can commonly last anywhere from 5 years/50,000 miles to 10 years/100,000 miles. However, there are longer coverage terms available through third-party providers.
Bumper-to-Bumper vs. Powertrain Coverage
See the infographic below for a direct comparison between bumper-to-bumper protection and powertrain warranty coverages.
It’s good to note that there are “powertrain-plus” plans on the market that combine the critical components of powertrain coverage with a few extra protections typically found only in bumper-to-bumper warranties. You’ll get more protection than what’s provided in a powertrain plan but at a cheaper price than exclusionary coverage.
Factory Car Warranty
There are two main types of coverage through a car manufacturer warranty: a new vehicle limited warranty that’s included with every new car and a factory extended warranty that provides additional coverage after the original warranty expires. Both tend to include both powertrain and bumper-to-bumper coverage for your vehicle.
As previously mentioned, the average period of time for coverage on a new car is 3 years/36,000 miles for the bumper-to-bumper warranty and 5 years/50,000 miles for limited powertrain coverage. If you’re interested in keeping your car safe and avoiding hefty repair costs once these warranty periodsd run out, it’s worth considering a factory or third-party extended warranty.
Own high-tech, luxury vehicles with intricate systems
Don’t mind bringing their vehicles to car dealerships for repairs
Can afford relatively pricey coverage plans
Want factory-trained technicians who use genuine automaker replacement parts
These manufacturer warranty plans often offer less coverage than third-party options at higher rates, but they do offer service under a solid brand name. If you’d prefer cheaper and potentially more expansive coverage, compare free quotes from some reputable extended car warranty companies.
Drivetrain Car Warranty
Rarely, you’ll run into options for drivetrain warranties. These plans are the most basic ones available, only protecting your transmission, axles, and other drivetrain components. Since drivetrain coverage excludes a car’s engine, it’s difficult to recommend it except possibly as an extended warranty for cars over 100,000 miles.
Emissions Car Warranty
Emissions warranties cover repairs for major vehicle equipment that breaks down from normal use. This type of warranty covers parts that are most likely to cause your car to fail state emission testing.
Most plans last from two years or 24,000 miles for parts such as exhaust pipes, but some parts like the catalytic converter may last longer. Terms are also longer in California, as the state provides longer coverage than federal minimums.
Corrosion Car Warranty
For this type of warranty, you are covered for corrosion or rust damages caused by moisture and salt in the air. This type of coverage usually is provided under a new car manufacturer warranty but can also be purchased as a separate plan for used vehicles.
How Does an Extended Auto Warranty Work?
An extended warranty lengthens factory warranty coverage to cover major car systems if they suffer from a mechanical breakdown due to faulty workmanship or defective parts and need expensive repairs. Premium extended vehicle protection plans can also pay for other items such as towing, and they can include some items considered to be wear and tear. Both automakers and third-party providers offer similar extended warranty coverage but differ in some key ways.
Third-Party Extended Warranties vs. Manufacturer Extended Warranties
Both factory and third-party warranty options have exclusions for normal wear and tear and for environmental factors or vandalism. Seat belts are generally included in a separate factory warranty plan, and you’ll see an additional emissions and corrosion warranty.
A third-party warranty holds many benefits over a factory warranty, such as:
Cheaper and more negotiable pricing
Usually more comprehensive coverage
Additional coverage options and a wider array of plans
Flexibility on where car repairs are done
Your choice of deductible
However, if you’re most concerned about unexpected repairs being made with original equipment manufacturer parts instead of aftermarket parts, you may prefer a manufacturer-backed extended warranty over a third-party plan.
What Extra Benefits Does A Car Warranty Cover?
Factory and third-party warranty plans often include perks that can add peace of mind on the road. The following are some relatively common types of benefits:
Roadside assistance: Towing, winching, lockout services, and battery jump-starts are all usually included in warranty roadside assistance plans.
Trip interruption benefits: If your car breaks down more than a certain distance from home, trip interruption benefits cover meals and lodging up to a certain amount of money and number of days.
Rental car reimbursement: When your car is in the repair shop for a covered repair, your company may cover some of your rental car or public transportation costs.
While both factory and third-party plans usually come with these benefits, they’re often more comprehensive and long-lasting when found through a third party. Some other benefits you may find include concierge services, key fob repair and replacement, and total loss protection.
Auto Warranty Coverage: Conclusion
There are a variety of car warranty plans available and each differs in the coverage offered. Full coverage extended warranty plans come at premium prices and often last a shorter time, while powertrain warranties are cheaper and last longer. The best choice for your vehicle depends on your personal financial situation, so we recommend comparing multiple options before deciding.
Our Recommendations For An Extended Car Warranty
If you’re wondering, “What does a car warranty cover?” then you’re likely also considering which providers offer the best coverage. After extensive research, we’ve determined that you’ll find exceptional service and affordable premiums through Endurance, CARCHEX, and CarShield.
Endurance: Best Coverage
In our review of the top third-party warranty providers, we named Endurance Best Coverage. With positive reviews from industry experts and customers alike along with six coverage levels, this provider sits at the top of the list.
Endurance is unique because it both sells and administers its warranty plans instead of using a third-party company to administer. It also offers one year of free Endurance Elite benefits that provide 24/7 roadside assistance, key fob replacement, tire repairs, a collision discount, and total loss protection.
Here’s a breakdown of how Endurance scored in our provider ratings:
CARCHEX earned the superlative of Best For Used Cars in our industry-wide review thanks to its five protection plans that cover vehicles up to 20 years old. This provider also has an excellent industry reputation thanks to its partnerships with Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and Carfax.
You’ll find standard perks with CARCHEX that include roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement. In addition, it offers extended warranty coverage in California, which not all providers in our review currently offer.
See how CARCHEX performed in our comprehensive review below:
CarShield was the most popular provider in our 2022 warranty survey, with over 56% of participants who purchased an extended warranty buying it form this provider. You’ll find five main plans from CarShield, along with one that’s intended for motorcycles and ATVs. It also offers perks such as roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption benefits.
We appreciate how CarShield plans over a wide range of deductibles and month-to-month contracts that keep you from being locked-in to a long term plan. For this reason, we gave this provider the superlative of Best Monthly Payments in our review.
Below is an overview of how CarShield performed in our provider scoring:
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding coverage for car warranties:
A new car warranty comes with your vehicle and covers certain vehicle parts against defects in materials or workmanship. An extended warranty keeps your car systems protected after your original factory warranty expires.
What a car warranty covers depends on the level of coverage you purchase. Bumper-to-bumper warranty plans typically cover almost every component in your car, while powertrain plans cover only your vehicle’s most essential parts.
A bumper-to-bumper warranty covers critical powertrain components such as your engine, transmission, and driveshaft, along with extras including air conditioning, infotainment and GPS systems, and electrical parts.
After purchasing a new car or an extended warranty, you’ll get a copy of your warranty contract. This document should list off exactly which parts your car warranty does cover, but make sure to read the fine print. It’s important to keep this document safe so that you’ll have your policy number handy if you have to file a claim.
Most vehicle service contracts and factory warranties do not cover windshield damage. To get coverage you will likely need to purchase a separate product protection plan.
Car batteries are not covered under most warranties since it is considered a wear and tear item, but separate warranties can be purchased to replace or repair your battery if it fails.
View Pricing for our Most Affordable Provider – Carshield | Save up to $360 per year