While the terms are often used interchangeably, a drivetrain warranty and a powertrain warranty are not the same. In fact, few companies offer a drivetrain-only warranty.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between the drivetrain and the powertrain as well as offer advice on shopping for powertrain warranty coverage.
Our research team has examined the best extended car warranty companies in the industry, considering coverage levels, contract details, costs and customer review information. If you’re looking for an extended drivetrain warranty, you can start comparing quotes using the tool below.
What is a Drivetrain?
A vehicle’s drivetrain includes all of the parts that deliver power to the wheels, except the engine that generates the power. The powertrain includes all drivetrain components, as well as the engine.
The exact components that make up a drivetrain may differ from car to car. Cars with manual transmissions have slightly different components than those with automatic transmissions. Front-wheel drive vehicles have different drivetrain components than four-wheel drive vehicles. However, most drivetrain components are the same or similar across vehicles.
Parts that typically make up a drivetrain include:
- Torque converter
- Drive shafts
- Propeller shafts
- Constant-velocity (CV) joints
- Universal (U) joint
- Transfer case
- Wheels (excluding tires)
How Does a Drivetrain Warranty Work?
Few, if any, reputable extended car warranty companies sell drivetrain warranties. Many companies offer powertrain warranties, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. A powertrain warranty is a contract that promises to pay for the repair or replacement of any powertrain component that stops working properly.
Virtually all auto manufacturers include limited powertrain warranties with new vehicles. These warranties typically cover all powertrain components, except for wear-and-tear items. Wear-and-tear drivetrain parts include the clutch and CV joints. These are expected to wear down over time. The typical manufacturer powertrain warranty lasts for 5 years/60,000 miles, whichever comes first. But the best new car warranties offer 10 years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.
If a covered component stops working, take your vehicle to a dealership for servicing. Factory drivetrain warranties guarantee the use of genuine replacement parts and servicing by trained technicians.
After your factory warranty expires, you can extend drivetrain warranty coverage by purchasing either an extended warranty from your car manufacturer or a vehicle service contract from a third-party provider. A manufacturer warranty can extend your coverage by three to five years, depending on the vehicle. Aftermarket car warranties can last much longer, with providers like Endurance covering vehicles up to 8 years or to 200,000+ miles.
Manufacturer Extended Warranty vs. Third-Party Warranty
In addition to term limits, there are many other differences between manufacturer and third-party extended warranties.
|Manufacturer Extended Warranty||Third-Party Extended Warranty|
|Coverage must be purchased from the dealership, typically before your new vehicle warranty expires.||Coverage can be purchased at any time.|
|The highest terms available are typically eight years.||Some providers offer coverage for vehicles|
up to 10 to 15 years.
|There are usually only one or two levels of coverage offered.||Most providers have multiple coverage levels to choose from.|
|Repairs must be performed at a dealership||Repairs can generally be completed at a dealership or at any U.S. or Canadian repair facility certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®)|
Best Extended Drivetrain Warranty Providers
If you’re thinking about purchasing an extended drivetrain warranty, it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare quotes from multiple providers. We recommend looking at Endurance and CARCHEX, two of our top-rated providers that offer premium powertrain warranties.
Endurance: Best Provider
Endurance extended warranties are some of the most comprehensive warranty contracts in the industry. There are six levels of Endurance coverage, three of which offer enhanced drivetrain warranty coverage:
- Select Premier: A plan designed especially for high-mileage vehicles that focuses on drivetrain components and the engine
- Secure: A powertrain plan that covers parts of the engine and drivetrain
- Secure Plus: An enhanced powertrain plan that covers everything included in the Secure plan, plus the air conditioning, brake components and steering
- Superior: A named-component coverage plan for hundreds of listed parts, including everything covered in the Secure Plus plan, as well as the cooling system, suspension and fuel system
- Supreme: An exclusionary, bumper-to-bumper warranty that includes coverage for most mechanical and electrical parts
- EnduranceAdvantageTM: A maintenance-warranty combination plan
Endurance Secure and Select Premier plans are most similar to a factory drivetrain warranty, covering the most essential vehicle components. The Secure Plus plan adds a few additional major vehicle systems.
Read more about coverage in our complete Endurance warranty review. For a personalized Endurance quote, click below.
CARCHEX: Best for High-Mileage Cars
CARCHEX offers five contracts, including two levels of powertrain warranty coverage.
- Bronze: Basic powertrain coverage that includes the engine and drivetrain
- Silver: Enhanced powertrain coverage that adds limited electric, air conditioning and steering components
- Gold: Mid-tier coverage that includes everything in the Silver plan, as well as the braking system and full coverage for steering, electrical and air conditioning components
- Platinum: Comprehensive stated-component coverage includes everything in the Gold plan, plus the suspension, high-tech electronics and fuel delivery system
- Titanium: Exclusionary, bumper-to-bumper coverage that includes emissions components and the navigation system
The CARCHEX Bronze plan is a drivetrain warranty that also includes engine components. It offers basic protection similar to a manufacturer’s powertrain warranty at a low cost.
Learn more in our full CARCHEX review, and get a free quote from CARCHEX below.
Frequently Asked Questions: Drivetrain Warranty
Does a drivetrain warranty cover the clutch?
A drivetrain warranty does not usually cover the clutch. Most drivetrain or powertrain warranties do not cover wear-and-tear components such as the clutch, brake pads and CV joints.
How much does it cost to fix a drivetrain?
The cost to fix a drivetrain will depend on the model of the car and the exact issue that needs to be fixed. If the transfer case needs to be replaced, that can easily cost upwards of $3,000, according to RepairPal. If the transmission needs a filter and fluid change, it is likely to cost significantly less.
Is an extended drivetrain warranty worth it?
An extended drivetrain warranty can be worth it by bringing peace of mind on the road. Drivers concerned about facing potentially high repair costs may choose to purchase an extended drivetrain warranty as a way to plan for and finance future repairs.
However, for drivers who can afford to cover hefty unexpected bills, it may be more economical to save for the cost of repairs yourself and pay out of pocket.
How long is a drivetrain warranty?
All new vehicles come with a manufacturer powertrain warranty, which covers the drivetrain, that usually lasts for five years. These warranties can be lengthened by purchasing either manufacturer extended auto warranty coverage or a third-party extended drivetrain warranty.
The Detroit Bureau collects data from every major car warranty provider to formulate rankings of the best warranty companies. Our in-depth rating system takes into account coverage, pricing, transparency, customer satisfaction and ratings from industry experts. Each provider is given a weighted score in five categories, as well as an overall score out of 10.0.
We recommend auto warranty companies based on these rankings, but we also encourage you to perform your own research and compare quotes to find the best coverage.