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What does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover?

A bumper-to-bumper warranty offers nearly comprehensive vehicle coverage

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by Emma Simon ConsumerAffairs Research Team
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Bumper-to-bumper warranties are vehicle protection plans that you can either get with a new vehicle or purchase from a third-party warranty provider. While they’re generally the most extensive form of warranty coverage, they don’t cover everything. Read on to learn more about bumper-to-bumper warranties and whether they’re right for you.

Bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage

Bumper-to-bumper warranties cover almost everything in between your front and rear bumper, including many major systems and parts in your vehicle, with just a few exceptions. In general, a bumper-to-bumper warranty covers your vehicle’s:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Driveshaft
  • Drive axle(s)
  • Differential(s)
  • Cooling system
  • Steering components
  • Suspension
  • Brakes
  • Electrical system
  • Air conditioning
  • Fuel system
  • Seals
  • Gaskets

Many bumper-to-bumper warranties are actually exclusionary plans, which means they're defined in terms of what they don’t cover. Rather than having a list of covered components, these plans have a smaller list laying out anything they don’t cover.

Before you sign up for coverage, check the specifics of your warranty to learn what is and is not covered. Some extended auto warranty providers also include extra perks, like roadside assistance, with their plans.

What does a bumper-to-bumper warranty not cover?

Warranty providers define “bumper-to-bumper” differently.

No auto warranty covers every repair. The term “bumper-to-bumper” implies that everything in between your car’s front and rear bumpers is covered, but this is misleading. Because almost all vehicle warranties are limited, they do not cover all of the vehicle in all situations.

In general, bumper-to-bumper warranties don’t cover “wear-and-tear” parts, regular maintenance or aftermarket customizations:

  • Wear-and-tear parts include brake pads, tires, windshield wipers and other components that need to be replaced occasionally because of regular wear and tear. Cosmetic damage, like dings, dents and chipped paint, are also considered regular wear and aren't covered.
  • Routine maintenance tasks, like oil changes and tire rotations, generally aren’t covered, but you may be able to add maintenance coverage to your warranty. Regardless, many warranty plans require you to keep up with regular maintenance if you want other parts of your vehicle covered.
  • Aftermarket parts or modifications you make to your vehicle aren’t usually covered. If one of these customized parts breaks, your provider may refuse to cover it, even if the warranty covered the original piece.

Bumper-to-bumper warranties also don’t cover repairs caused by accidents or bad weather. For these problems, you’ll need to go through your regular car insurance. Warranties only cover parts and repairs resulting from manufacturing defects or malfunctions. If your car develops problems because of poor workmanship or a faulty part, your warranty should cover it.

Bumper-to-bumper exclusions vary from plan to plan, so be sure to read your contract to learn what the warranty does and does not cover.

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Bumper-to-bumper warranty FAQ

What’s the difference between a bumper-to-bumper warranty and a powertrain warranty?
A powertrain warranty only covers your car’s powertrain, which includes the engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential, drive axle(s) and transfer case, if applicable. On the other hand, a bumper-to-bumper warranty covers nearly everything on your vehicle, including the powertrain. Manufacturer’s warranties usually combine these two types of coverage, with the powertrain plan outlasting the bumper-to-bumper coverage.
How much does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cost?
When you’re buying a new car, the factory warranty is almost always included in the purchase price. For an extended warranty, the costs vary, depending on your warranty provider and your vehicle’s make, model, age and condition. Expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $200 a month for your extended bumper-to-bumper warranty, with a $100 deductible.
How long does a bumper-to-bumper warranty last?
Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically remain active for three years or 36,000 miles. The plan expires based on whichever comes first. However, some automakers’ warranties last longer, up to five years or 60,000 miles.
Do bumper-to-bumper warranties vary by manufacturer?
Yes, the terms, inclusions, exclusions and limits differ greatly depending on who’s offering the plan. Be sure to read the contract thoroughly before signing so you can be sure you’re getting the coverage you require.
Does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover body damage?
Bumper-to-bumper warranties do not usually cover body damage. If the issue is the automaker’s fault, your warranty might cover it. However, if the damage was caused by an accident or inclement weather, you need to go through your insurance company.
Does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover paint?
Bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage does not typically cover paint damage. This is considered a regular wear and tear issue, so it does not meet the terms of most warranties.

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    Is a bumper-to-bumper warranty worth it?

    Bumper-to-bumper coverage can definitely be worth it. Auto warranties protect you from paying for repairs due to malfunctions or manufacturing defects, and factory warranties don’t cost anything extra if you’re buying a new vehicle. After your factory warranty expires, consider an extended auto warranty to prolong your coverage and help you avoid high repair costs on an older vehicle.

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    Profile picture of Emma Simon
    by Emma Simon ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Emma Simon is dedicated to creating accurate and valuable content that helps consumers make difficult decisions.