What does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover?
Not as much as you might think
Bumper-to-bumper warranties offer the best protection you can get from an auto warranty, covering the vast majority of the parts on a car. Every new car comes with at least a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty backed by the manufacturer (some stretch as long as five years/60,000 miles). Most extended warranty providers offer bumper-to-bumper coverage options too.
- Bumper-to-bumper is the most comprehensive auto warranty coverage available. It covers the vast majority of parts of the car, with only a handful of named exceptions.
- Like most auto warranties, bumper-to-bumper protection covers only repairs needed due to factory defects and faulty workmanship — not repairs as a result of neglect, abuse, misuse or damage (theft, vandalism, weather, collision, etc.).
- Typical exclusions to a bumper-to-bumper warranty are routine maintenance items (e.g., oil changes), regular wear-and-tear items (e.g., brakes, clutch discs and wiper blades), cosmetic items (e.g., paint, trim, upholstery) and aftermarket parts.
- All new vehicles sold in the U.S. include at least three years/36,000 miles of factory bumper-to-bumper coverage. After that, extended bumper-to-bumper coverage might make sense if the cost of the warranty is less than the expected cost of repairs.
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. They cover every vehicle part except a list of exclusions listed in your contract, which is why they're also referred to as exclusionary policies — the plans cover so many parts that's it's easier to list the parts that aren't covered than the ones that are.
With bumper-to-bumper coverage on your vehicle, repairs to the vast majority of parts across the following systems are typically covered:
- Drive axle
- Air conditioning
- Engine cooling
- Fuel system
- Front/rear suspension
- Instrument panel
- Electronics (e.g., power window motors)
- Luxury features (e.g., enhanced safety, sunroof)
- Safety systems
If a part within one of these systems fails for no discernable reason — for instance, if your wipers suddenly stop working or you get a “check engine” light while commuting — the repair is likely covered under your warranty.
Extended warranty companies rarely use the term “bumper-to-bumper,” instead opting for marketable names like “Platinum” or “Maximum Care.” To determine whether a plan truly offers bumper-to-bumper coverage, look for the term “exclusionary.”
What does a bumper-to-bumper warranty not cover?
There’s a common misconception that “bumper-to-bumper” means “every repair except wear and tear.” It doesn’t, though, and people are often surprised when such a robust-sounding warranty won’t cover the most basic repairs.
The disconnect often stems from the fact that auto warranties only cover factory defects. If your infotainment screen suddenly goes out or your engine leaks oil after just 1,500 miles, those repairs would likely be covered under your bumper-to-bumper warranty. However, if a mechanic can find any sort of outside cause for the failure (e.g., a missed oil change or a recent collision), your claim will most likely be denied.
Auto warranties cover only factory defects; they don’t cover typical wear-and-tear issues.
Here are the parts and scenarios that typically aren’t covered by bumper-to-bumper plans:
- Excluded parts: These are listed under "exclusions" in your warranty agreement. Honda, for example, excludes coverage for clutch discs and bearings, fuses, hoses, timing belts, insulation, handles and latches, exhaust systems, frames, bushings, bodywork and convertible tops.
- Wear-and-tear parts: These parts naturally wear down with time and need regular replacing (e.g., tires, brakes, batteries, wiper blades).
- Preexisting conditions: Any problems that were issues before you bought the warranty are considered preexisting. Your warranty provider may also deny claims if you can’t prove an issue wasn’t preexisting, which is why it’s a good idea to get a dealer inspection when you buy a warranty.
- Routine maintenance items: Oil changes, tire rotations, alignments and fluid replacements typically aren’t covered by bumper-to-bumper warranties. Most warranty agreements require you to keep up with routine maintenance yourself or they may deny your claims.
- Cosmetics and upholstery: Cosmetic parts and upholstered items like interior trim, cloth or leather seats, headliners and seat belts are rarely covered.
- Paint and bodywork: Items like glass, wheels, bumpers and other body panels are typical exclusions. Corrosion or rust may be covered under a separate corrosion factory warranty.
- Aftermarket parts: Lift kits, performance upgrades and even non-OEM nuts or bolts are commonly excluded. The warranty won’t cover the aftermarket part or any failure caused by the part (e.g., a lift kit causing suspension failure). One possible exception is a dealer-installed OEM accessory. “By far the most common reason we deny claims is because the driver installed an unauthorized lift kit that ruined other systems,” a claims officer with Mopar told us.
- Damage: Don’t count on coverage for any part failures resulting from an accident, theft, vandalism or weather, although these incidents might be covered by your auto insurance.
- Neglect: You’ll likely be denied coverage if, for instance, your car was parked outside for six months or you missed routine maintenance. Every owners manual has a recommended maintenance schedule (e.g., oil changes every six months), and most warranty agreements require you to follow these. If you can’t provide proof you changed the oil, your warranty provider may deny a claim for an engine repair.
- Abuse and misuse: Misuse can be going off-road, going to the track or towing beyond the vehicle’s rated capacity. Some warranty providers cover track and off-road use if the vehicle was specifically built for it, but never assume that either will be covered.
- Unauthorized repairs: These are any repairs performed before the warranty provider approves them. Warranty repair work requires pre-authorization; sending a receipt after the work is already done usually results in claim denial and leaves you stuck with the bill.
Even though bumper-to-bumper warranties only cover factory defects, they may still be worth it in select cases. If you drive a vehicle with below-average build quality, for example, an extended bumper-to-bumper warranty might be worth it to insure yourself against costly repairs. It all depends on cost.
» LEARN: Car warranty vs. car insurance
How much does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cost?
Factory bumper-to-bumper warranties for new cars are free (or included in the price of your vehicle purchase). Factory warranties also automatically transfer between owners, so if you buy a used Lexus RX 350 that’s only 2 years old with 20,000 miles, you’ll still have two years/30,000 miles remaining on the Lexus basic four-year/50,000-mile factory warranty.
For an extended bumper-to-bumper warranty, the cost may range anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000, depending on the vehicle’s make, model, age, length of coverage and other factors. Typical deductible amounts are $0, $100 and $200, although some providers may raise the deductible to $500 on niche performance or luxury vehicles.
On the low end, a two-year/24,000-mile bumper-to-bumper extended warranty on a Toyota Corolla may cost only $1,000. That’s because Corollas are generally considered reliable and less likely to break down — and when they do, parts and labor are pretty affordable.
On the high end, a seven-year/100,000-mile extended warranty on a Range Rover Evoque may cost $7,000 or more (these vehicles are considered more likely to incur frequent and expensive repairs).
On average, you can expect to pay around $1,000 per year for extended warranty coverage. So a seven-year/100,000-mile extended warranty on a vehicle with a three-year/36,000-mile factory warranty will provide only four years/64,000 miles of total coverage (for a total of about $4,000).
Bumper-to-bumper warranty vs. powertrain coverage
Bumper-to-bumper warranties cover most parts between bumpers. Powertrain warranties only cover select parts inside the engine, transmission and drive axle (the part that turns the wheels).
As you’ve probably noticed in countless car commercials, some manufacturers sell vehicles with a shorter bumper-to-bumper factory warranty and a longer powertrain warranty. Here are some examples:
- Chevrolet: Three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain
- Toyota: Three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain
- Hyundai: Five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain
Having both means that even after the bumper-to-bumper warranty expires, the car’s most essential components — the parts that make it go — are covered a bit longer under the powertrain warranty.
While powertrain warranties can help cover some expensive engine/transmission repairs later in life, it’s critical not to be misled by the implied promise that powertrain warranties keep your car on the road. In reality, powertrain warranties only cover a few dozen parts — and there are hundreds of parts that could render your car undrivable, from faulty electronics to failing brakes.
How to choose a bumper-to-bumper warranty
If you’re still within your automaker’s factory bumper-to-bumper, limited or basic warranty period, the choice is already made for you. See your manufacturer’s warranty guide for details. When it comes to choosing an extended bumper-to-bumper warranty, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Determine whether you need extended coverage at all
Most drivers never end up using their extended warranty, and even those who do tend to pay more for coverage than they get back in benefits. So purchasing an extended auto warranty makes the most sense when the expected cost of unplanned repairs is significantly more than the cost of the warranty.
Make sure any coverage you’re considering is worth it. Not every driver needs the most comprehensive plan.
Decide if you need bumper-to-bumper coverage
According to several extended warranty providers we spoke with, including Endurance, olive and Zeigler Auto Group, the vast majority of extended warranty shoppers end up choosing bumper-to-bumper-equivalent coverage since it offers the best value.
Typically, a top-tier exclusionary plan covers at least 10 times the parts for just 10% to 30% more than the cost of the next best plan. However, if you're on a budget and only want a specific part or component covered, you might consider a cheaper, less comprehensive plan.
Read customer reviews that mention claims
It's one thing to rate a warranty provider highly because you had an easy experience purchasing coverage; it's another thing entirely to rate it well because you had a good experience filing a claim. If a company has tons of bad reviews from customers citing a difficult claims process, that's a huge red flag.
Be wary of scams
Never purchase an extended auto warranty from an unsolicited caller or an unverified source of any kind. To avoid a warranty scam, it's always best to purchase any kind of coverage directly from the provider's website or by calling the number listed on the provider's homepage.
Check out top-rated companies
We've already done most of this research for you; check out our picks for the best extended auto warranty companies.
How long does a bumper-to-bumper warranty last?
All new cars in the U.S. come with at least three years/36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage. Some plans last longer; Hyundai’s and Kia’s last five years/60,000 miles.
Some extended warranties may last up to 10 years/150,000 miles, but it’s important to note that that’s 10 years/150,000 miles from your vehicle’s in-service date (when it was first sold as new), not the date you purchased the warranty.
So if you purchase a 10-year/150,000-mile extended warranty on a vehicle with a three-year/36,000-mile factory warranty, you’re really only getting seven years/114,000 miles of extended warranty coverage.
Do bumper-to-bumper warranties vary by manufacturer?
Yes, but only slightly. Some manufacturers may have a longer list of exclusions than others (Honda doesn’t cover convertible tops, for example), and certain automakers may even allow for off-road or track use on select models and trims. Chevrolet, for example, allows you to track the C8 Corvette without voiding the warranty, provided certain conditions are met.
That being said, it’s best never to assume anything and to always read a warranty contract carefully before making a purchase.
Does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover body damage?
Auto warranties never cover damage, only factory defects. If there’s a defect on your vehicle, such as mismatched paint or misaligned body panels, your factory bumper-to-bumper warranty may cover it, but cosmetic issues are common exclusions.
Any claims related to damage from road debris, weather and collisions have to go through insurance.
Does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover oil changes?
Auto warranties do not cover routine maintenance. You must perform routine maintenance yourself in order to prevent claim denial due to negligence.
That said, some warranty providers (like Endurance) let you add regular maintenance to your extended warranty plan.
Does a bumper-to-bumper warranty cover paint?
In most cases, bumper-to-bumper coverage doesn’t include paint. Dings, dents and chipped paint are typically considered regular wear and tear. Rust, however, may be covered under the factory corrosion warranty.
What’s the difference between extended warranty coverage and mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI)?
Extended warranties are sold by either the manufacturer or a third-party warranty provider. Mechanical breakdown insurance is sold by insurance companies. They’re similar products, though.
- Article sources
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
- Consumer Reports, “Should You Get an Extended Warranty for Your Car?” Accessed April 17, 2023.
You’re signed up
We’ll start sending you the news you need delivered straight to you. We value your privacy. Unsubscribe easily.