A Look at Manufacturers’ Warranty Policies
Increase confidence in the vehicles you buy by understanding the basics of a manufacturer’s warranty
Most new vehicle owners assume that they won't experience any mechanical breakdowns because their vehicle is brand new. Sure, the first 1,000 miles can be worry-free, especially if you don't push your vehicle to its limits. However, this is not a guarantee that all brand-new vehicles are trouble-free, and that's why they come backed with manufacturer warranties.
A manufacturer's warranty is also known as a factory warranty. It's a guarantee that the automaker will cover certain issues with your new vehicle. It typically covers repairs for bumper-to-bumper problems, including the engine, transmission, and drivetrain.
The reason the automaker provides a warranty is to prove to the consumer that the vehicle is a quality product that's built to go the distance. So let's dive deeper into the pros and cons of most manufacturer warranties.
The manufacturer’s warranty is included in the price of the vehicle. The coverage period may vary from one manufacturer to another, though it’s typically in effect for the first three years or 36,000 miles from the vehicle's date of purchase. Also, the automaker makes it standard for all its vehicle models.
- Guarantees that your new vehicle is well-built
- You don’t have to pay a deductible
- Eligible repairs are usually free
- You can get an extension on your warranty
- Dealerships may offer additional perks to the coverage
- Makes it easier to choose a suitable extended warranty from the dealership
- Short bumper-to-bumper coverage
- Doesn’t cover wear and tear items such as tires
- Doesn’t cover maintenance costs
- Corrosion warranty only covers surface damage
Most manufacturer warranties are divided into two categories: a new vehicle limited warranty and a limited powertrain warranty. The former is a comprehensive cover for defects in material and workmanship. It is usually shorter in length than a powertrain warranty in terms of years and mileage. The manufacturer remains the main administrator of the warranty even if the vehicles are sold in different dealerships.
The new vehicle limited warranty is a bumper-to-bumper coverage that tends to be valid only for the first three years or 36,000 miles. It covers all parts and systems of a vehicle except wear items such as brake pads, tires, and windshield wipers. This also means that you may void the warranty if you make alterations to your vehicle and it gets damaged as a result.
There isn’t a standard that all automakers apply for the specific parts covered, and some may even cover fewer parts than others. However, most automakers do have a comprehensive list of what’s covered and what’s not. This may seem irrelevant when your vehicle is new, but you should at least go through the list to decide if you need extended coverage for your vehicle.
Limited Powertrain Coverage
The limited powertrain warranty usually runs for about five years or 60,000 miles from the date of purchase. It covers basic powertrain components that keep the vehicle in motion, including the engine, transmission, and drive components. Damages caused by lack of maintenance, misuse, improper repair, water contamination, fire, and normal wear and tear aren't usually covered.
So basically, any damage that's not a result of an error in workmanship or parts from the manufacturer will not be covered. The information on the inclusions and exclusions of the powertrain warranty can be found in the owner's manual. However, if you don't want to go through the pages, you can access the information from the manufacturer's website.
The factory warranty may also include a corrosion warranty that runs for the same period as the bumper-to-bumper-coverage. A few manufacturers even offer a lifetime cover for corrosion. It covers the cost of repairing corroded steel parts if the cause is determined to result from salt, water, or environmental factors.
Most electric and hybrid vehicles come with a specialty cover for safety systems such as seat restraints, airbags, and other unique features. Also, if your car needs to be in the shop for a few days for repair, a few manufacturers may cover the cost of a rental car.
What We Like
As we noted earlier, the factory warranty is already included in the vehicle's price, so you don't have to worry about deductibles or paying any extra fees when you take your vehicle for repairs.
Even after the manufacturer's warranty expires, some automakers will repair some issues for free, especially for their loyal customers. You may also get a warranty extension for a few more months.
Some manufacturers like Kia, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai offer a longer coverage of up to five years or 60,000 miles. If you decide to sell your car within the first few years, the new owner could enjoy a portion of the cover.
If you are getting your vehicle from a dealership, the dealer may also include adjustment coverages for the first few weeks of owning your car. This includes coverage for wheel alignments, leaks, squeaking brakes, overheating, and any other minor issues you may experience.
What We Don’t Like
The factory bumper-to-bumper-coverage is usually short, and there’s a chance that it might expire before you need to get any repairs done. This means that you have to start considering extended warranty options to avoid out-of-pocket payments in repairs.
With most automakers, the corrosion warranty only covers surface corrosion on the body of the vehicle. This means that your vehicle may not be eligible for reimbursement if the rust causes more severe damage and you have to replace the part.
The manufacturer will recommend a specific maintenance schedule with a list of parts you should maintain every few months or years to keep the vehicle in good condition. This involves oil changes, tire rotations, wheel alignment, and more. However, the maintenance costs are not covered in the warranty.
Also, factory warranties don’t cover the costs of replacing wear and tear items such as windshield wipers, brakes, and tires.
Common Repair Costs
Repair costs usually vary depending on the vehicle’s year, make, and model, but one thing for sure is, the cost of labor will have a significant effect on the prices. To better understand the type of costs that the automaker cushions you from, we have broken down the costs of repairing some major parts of your vehicle prone to failure.
- Engine: The most common engine problems include poor fuel economy, high oil consumption, engine start problems, emission issues, overheating, and more. The repair costs can range from $500 to $3,000.
- Transmission: A few common issues relating to the transmission include shifting problems, fluid leaks, sensor failure, and more. Repair costs can run from $1,000 to $3,500 for a complete transmission replacement.
- Air Conditioning: If your AC unit is blowing warm air, making rattling noises, or has refrigerant leaks, then these issues can trigger the check engine light and call for repairs. The costs can average from $100 to $1,000 depending on if it’s a simple leak, a motor or sensor replacement, or a major repair.
- Electrical: The electrical issues a vehicle may experience include burnt out lights, jammed windows and doors, problematic sensors, and more. Repair costs could range up to $800 depending on how extensive the damage is.
Understanding the basics of a manufacturer’s warranty can help you take better care of your vehicle, as you would not want to end up with damages that aren’t part of the cover. Most importantly, it makes you aware of what you are entitled to should your vehicle suffer a defect in material or workmanship. To offer more clarification on the topic, we've answered a few questions below.
Q: How does a manufacturer warranty work?
When you buy a new vehicle, it comes with a guarantee from the automaker that they will cover the repair costs for defects in material and workmanship. It's part of the vehicle's price and is valid only for a limited period or mileage (usually three years or 36,000 miles).
Q: What’s not included in a manufacturer warranty?
Wear and tear items such as brake pads, tires, and windshield wipers aren't part of the coverage. Also, regular maintenance costs such as oil changes or tire rotations aren't covered in a manufacturer warranty.
Q: What voids a manufacturer warranty?
If you tamper with or make alterations to the parts, the manufacturer can void your warranty. Also, if the damage is caused by failure to follow the recommended maintenance schedule, then your claim may be denied.
Is a Manufacturer’s Warranty Worth It?
Although for a short time, a manufacturer’s warranty cushions you from the cost of unexpected repairs for the first few years of owning your vehicle. All you need to do is to follow the recommended maintenance schedule to avoid voiding the warranty. You can perform the maintenance at any repair shop so long as nothing gets damaged in the process. Generally, the factory warranty will offer peace of mind before you consider getting an extended warranty.