All new and certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles come with a manufacturer-backed warranty that will cover the cost of repairs if your car experiences a mechanical failure. But exactly what does a car warranty cover?
In this article, we’ll review the basics of car warranties, including what’s typically covered, average term lengths and common exclusions. We’ll also discuss the benefits of purchasing an extended warranty, or vehicle service contract, after your original factory warranty expires.
What Does a Car Warranty Cover, and What Is Excluded
All new vehicles come with a number of car warranties that cover certain vehicle components for at least 3 years/36,000 miles. A bumper-to-bumper car warranty covers nearly everything except wear-and-tear items, and a powertrain car warranty covers just the engine and drivetrain.
Many manufacturers offer these two types of protection as separate warranties, but some roll powertrain coverage into bumper-to-bumper coverage. Let’s discuss the ins and outs of each type of warranty.
A bumper-to-bumper car warranty is the most comprehensive auto warranty plan. It covers almost all vehicle parts between your front and back bumpers. However, it usually doesn’t cover the bumpers themselves.
Bumper-to-bumper warranties are often exclusionary, meaning your contract will list the parts that are not covered instead of the parts that are covered.
When you’re reviewing your manufacturer warranty package, bumper-to-bumper coverage may be referred to as a “new vehicle limited warranty,” because these plans only cover your car for a specified term length. Later, we’ll get into how long typical limited warranties last.
Powertrain car warranty plans are much more streamlined. They mainly focus on your engine, transmission and drive axle. Powertrain warranties often last longer than bumper-to-bumper warranties and are inclusionary.
You may see a few additional coverages included in your manufacturer warranty package, like an emissions warranty or a hybrid battery warranty. Here’s what each car warranty covers:
- Emissions warranty: Mandated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, this warranty coverage protects your car’s emissions control system in case of a malfunction. California has adopted additional emissions warranty standards, and some other states use these guidelines, too.
- Corrosion/anti-perforation warranty: This protection covers your vehicle in the case of rusted-through body panels. Some corrosion warranties will protect against minor corrosion damages as well.
- Hybrid battery warranty: This protection covers your hybrid vehicle’s battery and can last up to 10 years.
While it’s not technically a warranty, manufacturers also tend to offer a roadside assistance benefit for the duration of their limited warranty coverage. This can come into play when you’re in need of emergency towing, flat tire changes, fuel delivery services, lockouts and more.
What Does a Car Warranty Not Cover?
Warranty exclusions will vary depending on the manufacturer, but there are some common limitations. Here’s what we often see excluded in sample contracts:
- Theft and vandalism
- Aesthetic issues including dents, dings and interior upholstery damage
- Wear-and-tear parts like brake pads and wiper blades
- Environmental damage
- Unauthorized modifications
- Schedule maintenance repairs
- Collision damage
Additional exclusions will apply based on your bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties, so make sure to clarify these with your dealership. Another car warranty limitation is that you’ll typically be required to take your car back to a dealership for covered repairs.
How Long Does a Car Warranty Last?
Generally, bumper-to-bumper warranties last around 3 years/36,000 miles, but some can extend up to 5 years/60,000 miles. Powertrain warranties typically last around 5 years/60,000 miles but can last up to 10 years/100,000 miles.
The length of coverage varies widely depending on your manufacturer. The table below lists car warranty lengths offered by popular car brands. See our car warranties comparison to learn more about which manufacturers offer the best factory warranty coverage.
|Corrosion Coverage||Roadside Assistance|
|Toyota||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/unlimited miles||2 years/unlimited miles|
|Ford||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/unlimited miles||5 years/unlimited miles|
|Chevrolet||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 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|
As you can see, some manufacturers, like Hyundai, offer exceptionally long term lengths. Additionally, a few manufacturers provide complimentary maintenance for a set period of time.
What Does an Extended Car Warranty Cover?
Extended warranties provide peace of mind on the road after your factory warranty expires. You can buy an extended warranty from either your vehicle’s manufacturer or a reputable extended car warranty company.
Third-party warranties and extended manufacturer warranties usually provide bumper-to-bumper and powertrain plan options, as well as a few additional perks.
Manufacturer Extended Warranty
A manufacturer’s extended warranty builds on your car’s original limited warranty, but it usually isn’t an exact match in terms of coverage. Here are a few pros and cons of going with this car warranty option:
Manufacturer Extended Warranty
Only factory-trained technicians will work on your vehicle.
Repairs are guaranteed to be made with genuine parts.
Filing a claim may be easier than with a third-party provider.
Repairs must be completed at a dealership.
Coverage options are often limited.
You may need to visit a dealership to purchase coverage, and coverage typically must be purchased at the time you buy your vehicle or before your factory warranty expires.
Plans may be subject to dealer markups.
Third-Party Extended Warranty
A third-party provider can offer more flexibility than a vehicle manufacturer. Here are some pros and cons of extended car warranties from third-party providers:
Third-Party Extended Warranty
There are often more coverage plans to choose from.
You have more repair shop options, including dealerships and licensed repair facilities.
Warranties are available for older, high-mileage cars.
You can generally get free quotes and purchase coverage online or over the phone.
You’ll need to do research to find the best provider for your coverage needs and budget.
The claims process can be more involved.
Plans aren’t designed specifically for your vehicle make.
Our Top Recommendations for Extended Car Warranties
A third-party extended warranty is a great option for lengthening your vehicle protection. Our team has reviewed every major vehicle service contract provider’s coverage options, costs, customer service ratings and more. Based on this research, we’ve narrowed down a list of the industry’s best extended car warranty companies.
Below is more information about two high-quality providers that topped the list: Endurance and CARCHEX. Remember, it’s always smart to get quotes from multiple providers before committing to a purchase.
Endurance: Best Provider
We consider Endurance to be the overall best provider in the industry. Its maximum term limit extends up to 8 years or 200,000+ miles, and the company offers six different coverage plans. What we really like is the ability to choose when you buy your extended coverage with Endurance. Unlike manufacturer warranties, an Endurance extended warranty can be purchased anytime.
For additional information, read our comprehensive Endurance review. You can get a free quote to see how much you would pay for coverage below.
CARCHEX: Best for High-Mileage Cars
If you have an older vehicle with a lot of miles on the odometer, you might want to reach out to CARCHEX for a free quote. It offers the most flexibility for high-mileage vehicles without compromising on quality or coverage. Similar to Endurance, it offers five different coverage options, but with a maximum term limit of 10 years/250,000 miles.
To get a full picture of the coverage options available, read our comprehensive CARCHEX review. And to see what coverage would look like for your vehicle, get a personalized quote below.
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.