Q: What is a Car Warranty?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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A car warranty gives you peace of mind regarding any repairs that your vehicle needs for a specified period of time. A new car factory warranty will typically extend at least three years after the purchase, but many warranties are available for longer periods of time. Some car manufacturers even offer 10-year powertrain warranties. There are also companies that offer used car warranties and extended warranties for older vehicles. An extended warranty is a warranty that is not issued by the car manufacturer. It is also sometimes known as a service contract or an aftermarket warranty.

Car warranties typically consist of several components, including powertrain, bumper-to-bumper, roadside assistance, corrosion, and emissions warranties. The bumper-to-bumper warranty will usually cover all items on your car besides wear-and-tear items, which include brake pads and wiper blades. Bumper-to-bumper warranties will typically last for at least three years or 36,000 miles (whichever comes first), depending upon the manufacturer. The powertrain warranty covers all lubricated and sealed components that are part of the engine, transmission and drivetrain. It typically lasts a few years longer and a few miles further than the bumper-to-bumper warranty, again, depending on the manufacturer. Some powertrain warranties last as long as 10 years. All car manufacturers provide some type of protection against rust-through or corrosion on the vehicle.

Some vehicle manufacturers will also provide roadside assistance as part of the warranty on a new car. Roadside assistance covers ultra-conveniences like transporting your car to a dealership, emergency fuel if you are stranded, or tire changes.

The Environmental Protection Agency mandates emissions warranties for all new cars. All emissions components on your car will be guaranteed for two years or up to 24,000 miles. Certain major emissions components are covered by a warranty that lasts for up to eight years or 24,000 miles. If your car is covered under an emissions warranty, but not able to pass a federal or state emissions standards test, the manufacturer or dealer will repair the parts that resulted in the failure.

When the original manufacturer warranty expires on your vehicle, you may be offered the option of purchasing an aftermarket or extended warranty. The benefit of an extended warranty is that you can be assured of coverage if anything goes wrong with your vehicle during the term of the warranty, which reduces out-of-pocket repair costs. The cost of an extended warranty may vary based on the make, model and age of your vehicle. A number of companies offer extended warranties, so shopping around may be beneficial.

Regularly scheduled maintenance is typically not included as part of your car's warranty. For instance, a regular oil change is usually not part of the warranty unless the dealership where you purchased your vehicle offers complimentary oil changes and other services, such as a car tune-up, as part of their service agreement.

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