What does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover?

Top plans offer comprehensive vehicle coverage

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Written by Emma Simon
Edited by Cassidy McCants

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    Bumper-to-bumper warranties are protection plans that often come with a new vehicle, or you can purchase them from a third-party provider to extend your coverage. Bumper-to-bumper is considered the most complete form of car warranty coverage, but it doesn’t cover everything.

    Good to know: Most companies use the term “exclusionary” rather than “bumper-to-bumper” now. “Because there are so many parts of the vehicle that are covered, it’s faster to list the parts that aren’t covered in the agreement — that’s why they call it an exclusionary, because the contract lists the excluded parts,” according to a ConsumerAffairs concierge team member.

    Bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage

    Bumper-to-bumper factory warranties cover the most important parts between your front and rear bumpers, including the engine, transmission, starter and fuel pump.

    Bumper-to-bumper coverage is similar to a manufacturer's warranty on a new car.

    Coverage typically includes:

    • Powertrain: Engine, transmission, drive shafts, axles, differentials, drive box and transfer case
    • Steering: Power steering components, rack and pinion
    • Electrical components: Battery, alternator, power windows and door locks
    • Air conditioning: Cooling systems, condenser, compressor and evaporator
    • Safety features: Seat belts and air bags

    Some extended auto warranty providers also offer extra perks, including roadside assistance and free key fob replacement. Popular add-ons include high-tech electronics coverage for the radio, GPS and navigation components, LCD screens, sunroof or convertible-top motors and more.

    Bumper-to-bumper protection is also called an exclusionary warranty because it covers everything except specifically named parts and components.

    Most extended warranties are “inclusionary” — they list three or four pages of what’s covered (maybe a few hundred items). Bumper-to-bumper warranties are considered the most comprehensive because they cover more of the tens of thousands of components in a typical car.

    “Basically, they cover every single thing on the car with the exception of the small list of exclusions, which makes it an exclusionary policy,” one policyholder said during a phone survey earlier this year.

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

    Some people have the idea that “bumper to bumper” means coverage for everything except wear and tear — it doesn’t.

    Bumper-to-bumper warranties don’t cover “wear-and-tear” parts, regular maintenance or aftermarket customizations. They also don’t cover damage caused by accidents or “acts of God” (that’s what car insurance is for) or any problems that result from improper maintenance. Common exclusions include:

    • General maintenance
    • Tires
    • Wiper blades
    • Brake pads and rotors
    • Lightbulbs
    • Window glass
    • Cosmetic repairs
    • Repairs due to accidents
    • Repairs due to inclement weather

    You should always check the specifics of your warranty terms to learn what is and is not covered before you buy a plan. One policyholder told us about their plan during a phone survey: “They’re not going to cover the replacement of your tires. They're not going to cover the fact that your gas tank is going to go empty every week or two. They're not going to replace your windshield wipers. All regular items aren't covered.”

    One sample contract won’t pay for damages “caused by misuse, abuse, negligence, incorrect computer programming, external nuts, bolts, fasteners, contamination of coolant, fuel, fluids or lubricants.”

    Top bumper-to-bumper extended warranties

    The ConsumerAffairs research team compared top providers on sample contracts and availability to select our picks for the best exclusionary coverage. We also analyzed more than 5,800 reviews to determine what existing customers like and don’t like about their coverage.

    Extra roadside assistance benefits CarShield AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    • Exclusionary plan: Diamond
    • Waiting period: 30 days and 1,000 miles
    • Transferable: Yes
    • Availability: Most states (not CA)

    CarShield’s Diamond plan is similar to most new car warranties. It covers engine and transmission failure, fuel pump breakdowns and more. American Auto Shield administers vehicle service contracts marketed by CarShield.

    What reviewers like: Existing customers recommend CarShield because of the helpful representatives. Positive reviews indicate that representatives do a good job explaining coverage options.

    “CarShield provided a very fast and efficient service. Nobody initially wants any surprises especially when their vehicle breaks down. CarShield has provided for me a sense of security and well-being,” a reviewer in North Carolina said about their Diamond coverage.

    “My certified auto engineer, who kept my vehicles running for over 40 years, feels that this plan is excellent plan for me,” a reviewer in New York said.

    What to consider: One reviewer in Arizona was unhappy because they thought “the majority of everything was covered” with the Diamond plan but ended up having to pay for gaskets and fluids (noted in the list of exclusions on the sample policy).

    Easy to get started Endurance Auto Warranty AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    • Exclusionary plan: Supreme
    • Waiting period: 30 days and 1,000 miles
    • Transferable: Yes
    • Availability: Most states (not CA)

    Supreme is the most comprehensive plan available from Endurance. The company’s plans have a standard $100 deductible and a relatively short list of exclusions. Supreme is a good pick for those who want a contract similar to manufacturer-level coverage.

    What reviewers like: Endurance makes it simple to sign up for a plan with comprehensive coverage, according to reviewers. "I was very surprised how easy and affordable it was to get bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage on my vehicle. Only took a few minutes to complete,” a reviewer in Michigan said.

    “Endurance gave me bumper-to-bumper coverage while other places didn't cover anything electrical, a reviewer in North Carolina said. Endurance also threw in seals and gaskets, and we all know those things eventually fail. A couple of places had better prices, but they didn’t cover as much and I'll pay a little more to get better coverage.”

    What to consider: At least one customer was unhappy that their transmission wasn’t covered due to a preexisting issue. However, most companies won’t cover preexisting problems of any kind.

    Good value for the money CARCHEX AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    • Exclusionary plan: Titanium
    • Waiting period: 30 days and 1,000 miles
    • Transferable: Yes
    • Availability: All states

    The Titanium plan is the highest level of coverage available from CARCHEX. It comes with a term up to 10 years, and the standard deductible is $100 per claim — but other options are also available. There are Titanium-level plans available from different administrators.

    What reviewers like: CARCHEX has good rates and helpful reps, according to reviewers. “I liked the deal that CARCHEX gave us. It was a bumper-to-bumper for a really good price,” a reviewer in Maryland said.

    The company’s price-match “beat everybody else by at least $1,000” and “an extra year and/or 25,000 miles more warranty,” according to another Maryland reviewer.

    What to consider: Coverage for lighting, sensors and other electronic components is only included in the optional Hi-Tech Package. Some reviewers are unhappy with denied claims.

    Bumper-to-bumper warranty FAQ

    How much does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cost?
    When buying a new car, the factory warranty is always included in the vehicle’s purchase price. With an extended warranty, total costs range between $1,800 and $4,000, depending on your provider, the plan, and your car’s make, model, age and condition. Most plans come with a standard $100 deductible per claim.
    What’s the difference between a bumper-to-bumper warranty and a powertrain warranty?
    A bumper-to-bumper warranty covers nearly everything on your vehicle and is considered the most comprehensive type of car warranty. On the other hand, powertrain warranty coverage is more limited, covering only the engine, transmission, drive shaft and other components that deliver power to the wheels.
    • Powertrain warranty: Stated-component coverage for parts that make the car go, including the engine, transmission, drive shaft and axles. The powertrain contains your engine, transmission, drive shafts, axles, differentials, drive box and transfer case.
    • Bumper-to-bumper warranty: Exclusionary coverage for thousands of components, including electrical components. Electrical components typically include the battery, alternator, power windows and door locks.

    Manufacturers usually combine these two types of coverage into a limited warranty, with a powertrain plan that outlasts the more comprehensive, exclusionary coverage. To avoid misunderstandings, many providers today call bumper-to-bumper warranties “exclusionary coverage.”

    How long does a bumper-to-bumper warranty last?
    Limited warranties on new vehicles typically come with bumper-to-bumper coverage for at least three years or 36,000 miles (whichever comes first). Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Chevrolet all come standard with this coverage.

    A few automakers, like Hyundai and Kia, provide this type of coverage for longer — five years or 60,000 miles.

    With an extended warranty, your coverage lasts as long as is stated in your contract. The industry average is three to seven years, according to a ConsumerAffairs concierge team member. Some companies, like CARCHEX, offer extended exclusionary coverage up to 10 years.

    Do bumper-to-bumper warranties vary by manufacturer?
    Yes, the terms, inclusions, exclusions and limits differ depending on who’s offering the plan. Be sure to read the contract thoroughly before purchasing a new car so you know what’s covered.
    Does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover body damage?
    No, bumper-to-bumper warranties do not usually cover body damage. If there is a defect in the body of the car that is due to a part or workmanship issue, the original bumper-to-bumper warranty likely covers 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 oil changes?
    No, these plans don’t usually pay for routine maintenance tasks like oil changes and tire rotations. However, 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.
    Does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover paint?
    No, bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage doesn't usually cover paint damage. Cosmetic damage, like dings, dents and chipped paint, is considered regular wear and isn’t included in the terms of most vehicle service contracts or mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) policies.

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      Bottom line: Is a bumper-to-bumper warranty worth it?

      After your original manufacturer warranty or certified pre-owned vehicle warranty expires, a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty can prolong your coverage. Like insurance, it’s “something you buy and hope you never have to use,” one existing customer told us via phone survey.

      Just remember that each warranty provider defines “bumper-to-bumper” differently. Rather than providing a list of covered components, these contracts name all items that aren’t covered in the plan. Compare available extended warranty plans to learn more, and make sure any company you choose provides coverage for the parts or systems you’re most concerned about.

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