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Understanding new car warranties

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While many consumers mistakenly believe that their new car warranty will cover all maintenance and repairs, the truth may differ depending on which car brand they bought. In this article we’ll explore how warranties work and compare how major manufacturer warranties stack up.

  

What does a new car warranty cover?

New car warranty terms can vary depending on the specific components they cover. For example, one warranty might offer bumper-to-bumper coverage for 3 years/36,000 miles, but will continue to cover the powertrain until 5 years/60,000 miles. We’ll look at each of the components most often covered by warranties.

  • Bumper-to-bumper: Also known as a basic warranty, a bumper-to-bumper warranty covers repair and replacement of all vehicle components. The majority of brands do not include maintenance services like oil changes, or items needing replacement due to normal wear and tear such as tires and windshield wipers.

  • Powertrain: Powertrain warranties cover the major mechanical components of the vehicle including the engine, transmission and driveshaft. They do not typically include maintenance such as engine tune-ups.

  • Standard maintenance: Some brands will include basic maintenance such as oil changes in their bumper-to-bumper coverage.

  • Roadside assistance: Most brands also provide roadside assistance as part of their coverage. This includes the cost of towing the vehicle to the nearest factory service center, or fitting the spare tire.

 

Manufacturers' warranties also cover items such as air bags, emissions controls, and rust perforation. A number of hybrid vehicles offer extended coverage specifically for the hybrid components.

 

How do major manufacturers' warranties compare?

We've compiled a list how the major manufacturers compare on each item listed above.

 

  Bumper-to-bumper Powertrain Maintenance Roadside Assistance
Acura 4 yr/50,000 mi 6 yr/70,000 mi n/a 1 yr/12,000 mi
Audi 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi 1 yr/5,000 mi 4 years
BMW 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 years
Buick 4 yr/50,000 mi 6 yr/70,000 mi n/a 6 yr/70,000 mi
Cadillac 4 yr/50,000 mi 6 yr/70,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi 6 yr/70,000 mi
Chevrolet 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/100,000 mi 2 yr/24,000 mi 5 yr/100,000 mi
Dodge 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/100,000 mi n/a 5 yr/100,000 mi
FIAT 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi n/a 4 yr/50,000 mi
Ford 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi n/a 5 yr/60,000 mi
GMC 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi n/a 5 yr/60,000 mi
Honda 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi n/a 3 yr/36,000 mi
Hyundai 5 yr/60,000 mi 10 yr/100,000 mi n/a 5 years
Infiniti 4 yr/60,000 mi 6 yr/70,000 mi n/a 4 years
Jeep 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/100,000 mi n/a 3 yr/36,000 mi
Land Rover 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi n/a 4 yr/50,000 mi
Lexus 4 yr/50,000 mi 6 yr/70,000 mi 1 yr/10,000 mi 4 years
Mazda 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi n/a 3 yr/36,000 mi
Mercedes-Benz 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi n/a 4 yr/50,000 mi
MINI 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi 3 yr/36,000 mi 4 years
Nissan 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi n/a 5 yr/60,000 mi
Porsche 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi n/a 4 yr/50,000 mi
Subaru 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi n/a 3 yr/36,000 mi
Toyota 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi 2 yr/25,000 mi 2 years
Volkswagen 3 yr/36,000 mi 5 yr/60,000 mi 3 yr/36,000 mi n/a
Volvo 4 yr/50,000 mi 4 yr/50,000 mi 3 yr/36,000 mi 4 years

 

Which warranty is best?

These days most car manufacturers make consistently reliable vehicles—the vast majority of new cars will not need any major work done during the warranty period. The primary function of a new car warranty is to protect the consumer against rare instances of unforeseen defects. Typically warranties only provide bumper-to-bumper coverage for three to four years, before the time when normal repairs will ordinarily start to become necessary. 

While manufacturers like Hyundai offer longer coverage periods to encourage clients who intend to hold onto the vehicle for several years to consider the brand, others like BMW offer shorter warranties with extras such a maintenance that can make leasing the vehicle a more attractive option. The best warranty for you depends on how long you intend to drive the vehicle.

 

What do extended warranties cover?

Car owners who plan to keep the car beyond its normal warranty can choose to purchase an extended warranty (also known as an extended service contract) that will continue to cover the vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. These typically cover parts and labor expenses for most repairs after the original warranty expires. Some will also include roadside assistance.

Many extended warranties will have a deductible. If you feel that an extended warranty would be beneficial to you, you should consider both the term of the warranty and the deductible before you make a decision. (Many Cartelligent clients choose a 72 month/72,000 mile and an 84 month/100,000 mile warranty; both have a $50 deductible and other terms are available).

 

No matter what kind of car (or warranty) you're looking for, Cartelligent can help you get a great deal on exactly what you want. Call our team of car-buying experts at 888-427-4270 or get started today.