What Are the Different Types of Car Warranties? [Explained]

Types of Car Warranties Explained

Do you know how we all get those telemarketer calls claiming that your “car’s extended warranty is about to expire”? Have you ever wondered what that even means?

When you buy a car, especially a newer one, the dealership (or website) will typically offer you some sort of coverage, with the option of a “limited” or “extended” one.

But what are the different types of car warranties? How long do they last, and what do they cover?

What Is A Typical Car Warranty?

Typical Car WarrantyThe average car warranty is going to be a basic manufacturer one that covers necessary repairs and replacements for the first three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Among manufacturers, owners of Hyundai and Kia cars get the best-included warranty with coverage for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

This coverage will protect only major parts like the engine, transmission, and axles, and the price is included in the price of your car.

What About Used Cars?

Used Car WarrantyUsed car warranties vary even more widely than new car ones, so you want to do some research into this one.

You can check to see if there are any manufacturer warranties still available on the used car you’re buying, or see what kinds your dealership offers.

When it comes to typical used car warranties, you’re looking at 3 months or 3,000 miles of basic coverage.

What Are the Types of Car Warranties?

The amount of coverage as well as what’s covered depends on what type of car warranty you have, and there are multiple ones available.

If you're a California resident, you will want to search for Mechanical Breakdown Insurance instead of a VSC.

Here are the basics of what warranties are available and what they will cover.

What Is a Bumper-to-Bumper (Basic) Warranty?

Bumper to Bumper WarrantyA bumper-to-bumper (also referred to as basic) warranty is pretty self-explanatory: it’s a car warranty that covers all of the basics and is the most popular option.

This type of comprehensive warranty is offered by the manufacturer or dealer and typically lasts about 3 years or 36,000 miles

A few things usually covered by a basic warranty include:

  • The Powertrain (Engine, Transmission, Differential, etc)
  • Electrical Parts
  • Audio System
  • Air Conditioning

What Is a Powertrain Warranty?

Powertrain WarranyThe powertrain car warranty is much more limited than a bumper-to-bumper warranty, but it does last a longer time/covers more miles than a basic warranty. These types of warranties will cover the components of the powertrain for 50,000-100,000 miles.

This one only covers the components of the car’s powertrain, including:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Axles
  • Driveshaft
  • Drive Box
  • Differentials
  • Transfer Case

What Is a Drivetrain Warranty?

Drivetrain WarrantyA drivetrain warranty is very similar to a powertrain warranty with one exception: the engine is not included in the coverage.

This type of warranty usually covers these parts for 60,000 miles or five years:

  • Transmission
  • Driveshaft
  • Wheels
  • CV Joints
  • Axles
  • Differential

What Is Rust & Corrosion Coverage?

Rust and Corrosion WarrantyRust and Corrosion coverage will offer repairs and replacements on parts where corrosion naturally occurs on the surface area or paint over a set period of time (not through the fault of the owner).

This type of coverage is especially important for those who live in areas where cars are at more risk of this type of weathering, like coastal or desert climates.

This coverage is sometimes, but not always, offered as a part of an extended or standard dealership warranty. It’s important to note that your warranty may not automatically include rust or corrosion coverage.

What Is an Accessory Warranty?

Acessory WarrantyAn accessory warranty will cover all of the extra components of your car that other warranties may not.

This includes things like:

  • Sound & Navigation Systems
  • Seat Belts
  • Airbags
  • Exterior Contact Detection Sensors
  • Interior Paneling
  • Fabrics

These warranties only cover original equipment accessories, so any modifications or aftermarket parts you add to your car will not be covered and may void your warranty.

What Is an Adjustment Warranty?

Adjustment WarrantyAdjustment warranties are typically short warranties that are offered by the dealership to cover any small issues that may arise in the weeks immediately following the purchase of your new car.

These warranties typically only offer 90 days of coverage.

Minor issues that this type of warranty covers include things like:

  • Squeaks
  • Leaks
  • Alignment Issues
  • Small Parts

This type of warranty limits where you can get these minor issues fixed to only the dealership where you purchased your car from.

What Is an Emissions Warranty?

Emissions WarrantyThere are laws in place requiring all manufacturers to offer emissions warranties on any car made after 1972.

This warranty means that the manufacturer is obligated to repair any item that may cause your vehicle to fail the federal emissions standard.

These warranties can vary based on state laws; California, for example, has higher standards for what is considered acceptable in emissions.

What Is a Secret Warranty?

Shhhh, it’s a secret.

Just kidding. This type of warranty refers to a common practice in the automobile manufacturing industry where dealerships will repair certain items free of charge, without an official recall or warranty in place covering the item.

This is done when specific repairs are commonly needed in a certain type of make and model.

What Is Roadside Assistance?

Roadside AssistanceRoadside assistance is something that is typically covered under both the limited and extended warranties offered by manufacturers or dealerships.

Roadside assistance is offered as a way to help vehicle owners with emergencies if they are left stranded. These services include things like:

  • Flat-Tire Changes
  • Emergency Gas Delivery
  • Towing
  • Refills
  • Jumpstarts

Many third-party warranty companies, like Endurance, CARCHEX, and autopom! offer roadside assistance as standard or as an additional benefit. Check out our full comparison of the best third-party providers here.

What’s the Difference Between a Dealership and Manufacturer Warranty?

There are some key differences between dealership and manufacturer warranties.

Dealership vs Manufacturer Warranty

A manufacturer warranty usually:

  • Is automatically included with the overall cost of the car
  • Only replaces or repairs parts that are determined to be defective upon receiving the car
  • Is offered for a certain period of time- 3 years or 36,000 miles

A dealership warranty usually:

  • Is available at an additional cost
  • Has more variety of options
  • Can cover everything from repairs to regular maintenance

Do Hybrid Vehicles Have Different Warranty Programs?

Since hybrid cars work differently, they usually come with a special hybrid battery warranty on top of a regular manufacturer warranty.

This warranty is typically good for 8-10 years or 100,000 miles, but certain states have mandates that require hybrid vehicles to have 150,000 mile-warranty programs for their batteries.

Since hybrid vehicles can be a bigger investment than traditional gas models, repairs can become costly. For this reason, many hybrid vehicle owners will purchase an extended warranty for peace of mind.

What Isn’t Typically Covered Under a Car Warranty?

Not Covered Under WarrantyThough different warranties cover different things, there are a few parts that most car warranties will not cover.

These parts are usually not covered under a car warranty:

  • Body Panels
  • Aftermarket Accessories
  • Regular Maintenance (Brake Linings, Windshield Wipers, and Spark Plugs)
  • Batteries (Hybrid Excluded) - Consider AutoZone for battery warranties
  • Exhaust Systems
  • Tires
  • Accidents or Collisions
  • Regular Wear & Tear

Frequently Asked Questions

What voids a car warranty?

Things like misuse of the vehicle, aftermarket parts or modifications, environmental damage, or using improper/dirty fluids could all void your car warranty.

Are new car warranties free?

New car warranties offered by the manufacturer are already added to the total price of the vehicle, so it’s not an additional cost to you.

Which manufacturer offers the best warranty?

The overall best manufacturer warranty comes from Hyundai and the car brands underneath it (Kia and Genesis) at 5 years/ 60,000 miles covered. The same is offered by Mitsubishi.

Can I buy a car warranty at any time?

Though it depends on what kind of warranty you’re talking about and what dealership you bought your car from, you can usually buy an extended warranty at any time. If you wait until after the vehicle warranty has ended, however, it’s likely going to cost you more.

What types of car warranties are worth it?

This really depends on what kind of car you want. For luxury brands and hybrids, getting a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty can save you money in the long term. Otherwise, many car warranties can end up being more expensive and stressful than they’re worth.

What if a company won’t honor its warranty?

If you find yourself in a situation where the manufacturer or dealership refuses to honor your warranty, it may be necessary to take legal action. You can start by re-reading the warranty and sending letters of demand.