Nearly every new vehicle purchased from a dealership comes with a manufacturer's warranty, which is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. “A manufacturer’s warranty covers repairs needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship,” says Keith Barry, autos writer at Consumer Reports. “It only covers manufacturer defects, not normal wear-and-tear items or abuse.”
If you’re having a problem with your vehicle, it’s worth taking a look at your warranty to make sure you’re not necessarily paying for repairs. You might be surprised by what’s covered and for how long.
What’s a car warranty?
The manufacturer's warranty is broken up into different categories. The most comprehensive warranty—often called a basic or limited warranty—lasts three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, although some brands, namely Kia and Hunyadi, offer a longer warranty. This is what many people call “bumper to bumper” coverage. This warranty covers almost everything that might break down on your vehicle due to a defect. So if your car overheats or your air conditioning stops working, you’re probably covered during this period.
The powertrain warranty typically lasts until 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first, and it is significantly more limited. This warranty covers possible defects in the engine, exhaust manifolds, transmission, and drivetrain. Certain emissions components, such as your catalytic converter, may be covered under a warranty that extends a minimum of eight years or 80,000 miles.
Smart Tip: Most of these warranties are transferable to second (or third) owners. You can typically find manufacturer’s warranties online to check if any components on your used car are still under warranty.
“One thing to watch out for is that the warranty starts the day the car is first put into service,” says Barry. “So even if you have a 2013 car with a 10 year warranty, if it was first registered in March of 2012, that warranty has expired.” A Carfax report and an invoice from your dealership for service often includes this date, but you can also call your local dealership to confirm.
Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Coverage
If you own a hybrid or electric vehicle, your warranty coverage will include a minimum of eight years or 80,000 miles of coverage on your electric or hybrid battery. “Often, manufacturers add additional years and miles of warranty coverage to parts that are specific to a hybrid or EV,” says Barry. “For example, Toyota warranties its hybrid battery for 10 years from the date of first use or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first, which is longer than the vehicle’s overall warranty.”