Do car warranties cover brakes?

It’s more complicated than you might think

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    Taking good care of your brakes is critical, and sooner or later, you’re going to need to replace or repair them.

    When that time comes, who foots the bill? Under what conditions would your warranty cover the cost of new brakes? And how much does it cost if you have to pay out of pocket?

    Read on to find out.

    Key insights

    Generally speaking, auto warranties only cover parts that aren’t designed to fail after a certain amount of use.

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    Some parts of your brake system — like your caliper and master cylinder — are built to last, so they should be covered. Others — like your pads and rotors — only last around 50,000 miles by design, so they likely won’t be.

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    That said, there’s a small chance those wear-and-tear parts are covered under a part-specific warranty or a complimentary maintenance plan, depending on your car’s manufacturer.

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    The cost to replace brake pads and rotors usually hovers around $600 per axle if you’re paying out of pocket.

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    Brake warranty coverage

    Auto warranties only cover some of your brake components, some of the time. We’ll explain how you can tell which components should be covered below.

    Parts that are meant to wear down, like brake pads and rotors, generally aren’t covered under your car’s warranty.

    Broadly speaking, any component that’s expected to fail within a certain time frame is called a wear-and-tear part. Wear-and-tear parts are almost never covered under regular auto warranties because when they fail, the manufacturer just shrugs and says, “Well, they’re supposed to.”

    Your brakes are made up of over a dozen individual components. Some components, like your brake caliper (the big metal clamp that bites onto your rotor), are designed to last a very long time with regular maintenance — usually over 100,000 miles. Because they’re not designed to wear down over time, they’re typically covered under warranty.

    But other brake components — like your brake pads, shoes and linings — are only designed to last around 30,000 to 50,000 miles each. As a result, they’re usually not covered under warranty.

    Using Endurance’s Supreme warranty plan as an example, here are the brake components that typically are — and are not — covered under warranty:

    Typically covered

    • Master cylinder
    • Power brake cylinder
    • Vacuum/hydro assist booster
    • Disc brake caliper
    • Wheel cylinders
    • Compensating valve
    • Brake hydraulic lines and fittings
    • Hydraulic control unit
    • Hydraulic trailer brake assembly and its components

    Typically not covered

    • Brake pads
    • Brake linings
    • Brake shoes
    • Brake rotors
    • Brake drums

    The one exception to this rule of thumb is part-specific warranties. Some automakers acknowledge that even wear-and-tear parts should last for a while and attach a short bonus warranty to them. Hyundai, for example, covers its brake pads and linings for one year/12,000 miles from the date of original retail delivery or date of first use, whichever comes first.

    But, whether it’s a part-specific warranty or a more comprehensive warranty, auto warranties in general only cover parts that fail due to factory defects. Basically, if a non-wear-and-tear part failed on your vehicle for seemingly no reason at all, there’s a good chance you’ll be covered under warranty. But, if your brake component failed due to one of the following causes, your warranty provider will very likely deny your claim:

    • Damage, such as from a collision, weather damage, vandalism, theft or corrosion
    • Abuse, such as towing too much, racing or going off-road
    • Neglect, such as failing to stick to the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual (e.g., calipers failing due to worn-out pads)

    Lastly, warranties of all kinds never cover preexisting conditions. If you were hoping to purchase an extended warranty to help with your existing brake issues, that isn’t quite how warranties work. They’re more like insurance against unseen future issues rather than a discount on existing ones.

    » LEARN: What does a car warranty cover?

    What types of warranties cover brakes?

    Assuming you’re looking to replace the right brake component for the right reason, here are the different kinds of warranties that cover brake components:

    • Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically cover non-wear-and-tear brake components for up to five years or 60,000 miles. If you’re not sure whether your vehicle has any of its original factory warranty remaining, you can check with your VIN.
    • Factory wear-and-tear warranties may cover your brake pads, linings and other limited-life brake components for up to one year or 18,000 miles. Check your vehicle’s warranty booklet for details.
    • Other warranties may include up to three years of complimentary maintenance. This means they might pay to replace your brake pads and rotors for free at certain intervals, even if there’s no factory defect.

    We know that figuring out which parts are covered when can be tricky, so — as a shortcut — you can always call your local dealer and ask. Just have your VIN ready.

    » MORE: Car warranty guide: what you need to know

    Does your extended warranty cover brakes?

    While factory warranties generally only come in two flavors — bumper-to-bumper and powertrain — extended auto warranties come with a lot more choices. Here’s a quick list of some extended warranty companies and which of their plans covers brake components.

    While this chart can serve as a quick reference, always be sure to read any and all extended warranty contracts carefully before signing. Case in point, a reviewer in California told us he thought his contract covered his brake pads only to discover that wasn’t true.

    “When he gave me the paperwork, I read it and it said that they cover brake systems. So, I figured that included brake pads,” he said. “I didn't have a rotary problem. It was just the brake pads needed to be changed. … They just didn't fit what I needed.”

    » SEE OUR TOP PICKS: Best Extended Car Warranty Companies

    How much does it cost to fix your brakes?

    This may seem obvious, but the cost of fixing your brakes depends on what needs fixing. If you’re looking to replace a failed caliper, for example, the cost could be $800 for a regular vehicle or over $1,500 for a luxury/performance vehicle.

    However a far more common brake service is replacing your pads and rotors, also known as a “brake job.” The average cost of a brake job typically hovers around $600 per axle (both front or both rear sets), but prices commonly range from $400 to $900 per axle.

    If you drive a Japanese, Korean or American car, your mechanic may be able to resurface your rotors without having to replace them entirely. This environment-friendly, cost-saving measure can save you $100 or more per axle when you need a brake job.

    » MORE: Cost to replace brake pads and rotors

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    Are brake discs covered under warranty?

    Most factory and extended warranties do not cover brake discs.

    However, they may be covered under a short, one-year warranty from your vehicle’s manufacturer. They may also be covered under a complimentary maintenance plan since they’re considered wear-and-tear parts that need changing at regular intervals (roughly every 30,000 to 50,000 miles).

    Are brake pads replaced under warranty?

    Like brake discs, brake pads may be covered under a short, part-specific warranty or maintenance plan, but factory and extended warranties usually don’t cover them because they’re considered wear-and-tear components.

    Are brake calipers covered under warranty?

    Brake calipers are not considered wear-and-tear components, and as a result, they are typically covered under most factory bumper-to-bumper warranties (and even many midtier extended warranties).

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