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. We’ve provided our recommended best extended car warranty companies.

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What Does a Warranty Cover on a Car?

Part breakdowns from defects in vehicle production and labor for repairs are covered by a car warranty. A warranty on a car normally 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.

For covered items included in your car warranty, your repair or replacement bill will be fully paid for and you’ll only need to. 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 is best to check the terms of your contract to ensure you know what is covered.

What Does a Car Warranty Not Cover?

Car warranties typically do not cover things such as:

  • Normal Wear and Tear: Vehicle parts that are expected to wear out regularly such as brakes, batteries, windows, and tires will not be covered. Oftentimes you will have to purchase a separate component-specific warranty to get coverage for these items. However, if a part fails sooner than expected, this may not be the case and you may be covered.
  • Routine  Maintenance: Things such as tune-ups, belt and hose replacements, and rotating your tires are not usually covered. However, most automaker dealers will offer you separate packages to include these types of services under warranty.
  • Abnormal Use: Actions such as replacing the parts on your car or towing past limits will not be covered. If you are driving off-road or racing with your vehicle any damages from these activities will not be covered. Some of these non-standard uses can also void your warranty.
  • Accidents, Theft, and Acts of Nature: A car warranty is not insurance so any accidents related to a collision, theft, or weather-related damages will not be covered situations. For these types of incidents, you’ll need auto insurance for coverage.
  • Cosmetic Damage: Interior wear and tear like chipped plastic and tears in your seats are not under warranty.
  • Exterior Damage: Items such as paint or scratches on your bumper are not normally covered, but a corrosion warranty may give you 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

When talking about car warranty coverage, you need to understand the types of protection plans available. Many come with varying part inclusions, exclusions, and benefits. Each car warranty type coverage and terms will be broken down in the below sections so you can compare what each provides.

Bumper-to-Bumper Car Warranty

A bumper-to-bumper car warranty gives the most comprehensive coverage including 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 and have limits of 36,000 miles. However, some companies offer plans for up to 5 years and 60,000 miles.

A more detailed list of typical coverage is included below:

  • Powertrain
  • Electronic vehicle systems
  • Suspension
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Specified emissions parts
  • Safety equipment
  • Steering

Powertrain Car Warranty

Under this warranty coverage, only the powertrain vehicle system, which is responsible for moving your vehicle, is protected parts break down. The parts that are included in the powertrain are as follows:

  • Engine and its internal components
  • Transmission
  • Axels
  • Driveshafts
  • Transfer case
  • Differentials

A powertrain warranty is the longest-lasting plan offered and can commonly last anywhere from 5 years and 50,000 miles to 10 years and 100,000 miles. However, there are longer coverage terms available through third-party providers.

Powertrain Warranty Vs. Bumper-to Bumper

Below, we’ll explain the differences between bumper-to-bumper coverage and a powertrain warranty:

  • Bumper-to-bumper Warranty: This term generally refers to the highest level of car warranty coverage available. Sometimes known as an exclusionary warranty, this type of contract lists only the parts that are not covered since the majority of car components will be protected.
  • Powertrain Warranty: This is some of the most basic coverage offered by any provider, protecting only the powertrain. This plan is a stated-component contract, meaning that your powertrain warranty will list each car part that is covered.

There are also “powertrain-plus” plans that combine the critical pieces of powertrain coverage with a few extra pieces 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.

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/40,000 miles for limited powertrain coverage. If you’re interested in keeping your car safe and avoiding hefty repair costs once these warranties run out, it’s worth considering a factory or third-party extended warranty.

Factory extended warranty coverage from automakers like Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Toyota, or Nissan is best for car owners who:

  • 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 parts

These manufacturers’ 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 tends to cover the 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 which 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 be purchased as a separate plan for used vehicles.

What Does an Extended Warranty Cover on a Car?

An extended warranty extends coverage from a factory warranty to cover major car part systems if they suddenly break down and need expensive repairs. Premium extended vehicle protection plans can also pay for other items such as towing and 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.

Extended Warranty Vs. Factory Warranty

Both factory and third-party warranty options have exclusions for normal wear and tear and for environmental factors or vandalism. The seat belts are generally included in a separate factory warranty plan, and you’ll see an additional emissions and corrosion warranty. 

However, 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

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, an auto warranty covers 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. While some plans provide full coverage, they 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 and CarShield.

What Does An Endurance Car Warranty Cover?

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.

Here’s a breakdown of how Endurance scored in our provider ratings:

Reputation

4.4

Coverage

4.9

Price

4.5

Customer Experience

4.5

Overall Score

4.6

Endurance Car Warranty Plans

Endurance offers six coverage plans:

  • Supreme: This is Endurance’s bumper-to-bumper exclusionary warranty, covering almost your entire vehicle.
  • Superior: Endurance’s Superior plan provides coverage for hundreds of specific car components.
  • Select Premier: This plan protects high-mileage vehicles, focusing on your car’s powertrain and electrical, air conditioning, and fuel systems.
  • Secure Plus: This plan’s major areas of coverage include the engine, transmission, brakes, air conditioning, electrical components, and steering.
  • Secure: The most affordable plan focuses on vital and expensive powertrain components in your vehicle, such as the engine, transmission, and water pump.
  • EnduranceAdvantage™: This combines extensive component coverage with routine maintenance needs such as filter and oil changes, tire rotations, protection of seals and gaskets, and brake pad and wiper blade replacements.

All Endurance plans come with one free year of Endurance Elite Benefits membership, giving you the following perks:

  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Key fob replacement
  • Tire replacement or repair
  • Collision discount
  • Total loss protection

What Does A CarShield Car Warranty Cover?

For over 15 years, CarShield has provided quality car warranty services to motorists across the country. You’ll find five main plans from CarShield, along with one that’s intended for motorcycles and ATVs.

Below is an overview of how CarShield performed in our provider scoring:

Reputation

3.8

Coverage

4.6

Price

4.5

Customer Experience

3.6

Overall Score

4.2

Carshield Car Warranty Plans

Here are CarShield’s five main levels of coverage:

  • Diamond: A bumper-to-bumper warranty with few exclusions that’s extremely similar to your manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Platinum: This is the best coverage option for high-mileage vehicles, as it covers a mix of high-level components and basic powertrain parts.
  • Gold: This covers parts such as the engine, transmission, water pump, alternator, starter, air conditioning, and windows.
  • Silver: CarShield’s affordable powertrain warranty covers the most important parts of your vehicle, such as its engine, transmission, and water pump.
  • Aluminum: This plan provides specialty coverage of electrical components including the engine control module, starter, alternator, GPS system, and electrical system.

You’ll also receive roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and trip interruption benefits from CarShield for the duration of your contract. Most CarShield warranties are transferable to a subsequent buyer, meaning you could increase your vehicle’s resale value if you sell it under warranty.

Car Warranty Coverage: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding coverage for car warranties:

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