All new and certified pre-owned vehicles come with a factory warranty, but what parts are covered and under what circumstances?
In this article, we pull the curtain back on factory warranties. We’ll take a look at typical new car warranty terms, how to find out if your car is still under warranty, and the benefits of extended coverage from the manufacturer and third-party warranty companies.
What Does a Factory Warranty Cover?
A factory warranty covers your car after mechanical breakdowns for a certain time period or mileage term. The manufacturer pays for repairs outlined in the warranty contract. Factory warranties may include powertrain, maintenance, corrosion and emissions coverage.
With almost any new vehicle or certified pre-owned purchase, your car comes with a factory warranty (also known as a vehicle service contract). Like an insurance plan, your factory warranty protects your car, but for different circumstances. Your car’s warranty protects from mechanical breakdowns that occur, while insurance protects you in case of a collision.
Most factory warranties are actually a number of smaller warranties wrapped into one contract. Let’s take a closer look at the different warranties you might encounter.
New Vehicle Limited Warranty
A new vehicle limited warranty equates to bumper-to-bumper coverage. Bumper-to-bumper plans cover most repairs your car needs at no cost to you. You’re covered from your back bumper to your front bumper.
This type of factory warranty coverage is usually exclusionary, which means that it comes with a list of components and circumstances it excludes rather than includes. The average car has over 20,000 parts, so an exclusionary contract is actually more comprehensive than an inclusionary contract that lists every covered part.
Among most limited warranties, there are a few things not included in your protection plan, like wear-and-tear items and regular maintenance costs. Car needs like fluid changes or wiper blade replacements will be attributed to the driver.
New vehicle limited warranties typically transfer to subsequent drivers as well. Often, this transfer process is free, but it can also be a small fee of around $50.
Powertrain Limited Warranty
This type of factory warranty covers the most important parts of your vehicle, like its engine, transmission, and front- and rear-wheel-drive systems. Opposite a new limited warranty, powertrain warranties are often inclusionary, meaning your manufacturer warranty contract will explicitly state what powertrain parts are covered.
Because the engine and transmission are fundamental to any car, powertrain warranties cover defective parts only. The hope is that the manufacturer has built a dependable part with little to no evidence of breaking. This is also why powertrain warranties have longer term lengths than new vehicle limited warranties. Again, if the manufacturer has built a trustworthy engine, it shouldn’t have any issues as long as it’s well maintained.
Regarding transferability, powertrain warranties don’t usually transfer to the second owner. Instead, the manufacturer puts a new contract in place, one that has a shorter term length (like five years instead of 10).
Bumper-to-bumper and powertrain coverage are the most important parts of a factory warranty, but there are many more types of coverage that you’ll want to take into consideration.
- Emissions warranty: The federal government mandates that car manufacturers have a limited warranty on specific emission-related parts. By law, they’re expected to span 8 years or 80,000 miles. California has additional emissions laws, which other states choose to follow.
- Corrosion warranty: Also called an anti-perforation or anti-rust warranty, this type of factory warranty covers repairs or replacements of rusted-through body sheet metal.
- Roadside assistance: Not a traditional warranty, roadside assistance is usually a complementary service added to your manufacturer warranty. It may cover towing services, fluid delivery and lock-out services, depending on the manufacturer.
In some cases, a car brand might also provide maintenance coverage with the manufacturer’s warranty. For example, the Ford factory warranty provides 100% tire coverage for the first 12,000 miles of your vehicle’s warranty. The coverage decreases the more miles you drive, but it’s a great perk nonetheless.
How Long is a Factory Warranty?
A factory warranty’s length depends on the car manufacturer. Bumper-to-bumper warranties tend to last 3 years or 36,000 miles on average, while powertrain factory warranties last 5 years or 60,000 miles on average.
How Do I Know if My Car is Still Under Warranty?
You can find out whether your car is still under warranty by locating your vehicle identification number (VIN) and contacting your dealer.
A car’s VIN is its identification, almost like a social security number for the car. Older vehicles have VINs around 15 characters, while newer models have 17. All VINs are a mix of letters and numbers and can be found on your car’s insurance card, on the vehicle title, or on the car itself. Two typical VIN placements are on the driver’s side windshield and inside the driver’s side door.
Once you have your VIN, contact your dealership. It’s best if you can call the dealer that you purchased the car from, but any manufacturer dealership should be able to tell you about the factory warranty. Ask to speak with a representative, and then ask for the car’s information.
If you’re unable to get in touch with the dealership or it doesn’t have the information, you can also try checking CARFAX. Often, a vehicle’s history will have details on when the manufacturer warranty expires.
What Does a Certified Pre-Owned Factory Warranty Include?
While different from a new vehicle warranty, certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles often come with a factory warranty as well. A CPO car has been through rigorous testing and refurbishing before being put back on the market. Since these cars are expected to be “like new,” it’s only fitting that they come with a warranty similar to a new car.
A CPO vehicle may still have the original manufacturer warranty in place or have a shorter, CPO warranty. This often depends on the car’s age and mileage.
For most manufacturers, the original factory warranty continues with CPO vehicles as long as it’s not expired. For example, a CPO Mazda that’d previously been driven 2 years and 24,000 miles will still be covered under the 3-year/36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty. On top of that, CPO Mazdas come with a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty.
On the other hand, if the new vehicle limited warranty has already expired upon the CPO’s purchase date, most manufacturers will provide bumper-to-bumper warranty for 1 year or 12,000 miles.
Factory Warranty Terms for 8 Popular Manufacturers
To give you a better idea of what your factory warranty might encompass, here are the warranty details for some of the most popular vehicle manufacturers.
|Manufacturer||Bumper-to-Bumper Factory Warranty||Powertrain Factory Warranty||Corrosion Coverage||Roadside Assistance|
|BMW||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles||12 years/unlimited miles||4 years/unlimited miles|
|Chevrolet||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Ford||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/unlimited miles||5 years/unlimited miles|
|Honda||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/unlimited miles||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Hyundai||5 years/60,000 miles||10 years/100,000 miles||7 years/unlimited miles||5 years/unlimited miles|
|Mercedes-Benz||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|Subaru||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/unlimited miles||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Toyota||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/unlimited miles||2 years/unlimited miles|
Benefits of Extended Car Warranties
Some manufacturers offer shorter factory warranty terms than others. In any case, it’s important to consider your vehicle’s protection beyond the factory warranty. An extended warranty from the dealer or a third-party warranty company can lengthen your coverage by several years.
An extended warranty from a manufacturer looks a lot like the original factory warranty, encompassing both a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty and a powertrain warranty. But it also has some drawbacks. Manufacturers often only let you have the vehicle repaired at a dealership, limiting your options. Additionally, the manufacturer typically has stipulations about which cars are eligible for an extended warranty, meaning older vehicles are out of luck.
Why Choose a Third-Party Provider?
Warranty companies offer flexibility in coverage, vehicle eligibility and repair shops. While a manufacturer warranty might come with only two or three choices for coverage, the best extended warranty companies have five or six and cover vehicles with more than 100,000 miles. They also allow you to visit more than 30,000 licensed repair shops nationwide.
Awarded a 9.6 out of 10.0 stars from our researchers, Endurance is a warranty company that performs well across the board. It has six coverage plans and the best benefits in the industry, including roadside assistance, identity theft protection, and tire repairs and replacements. CARCHEX is great for high-mileage cars with plans for vehicles up to 10 years or 250,000 miles, and we recommend CarShield for the best value in the industry.
Learn more about third-party warranty companies in our full Endurance warranty review, CARCHEX review, and CarShield review. You can get free, personalized quotes from each provider below to see how much you would pay for an extended 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.