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What is a manufacturer's warranty?

A manufacturer's warranty covers auto repairs for a short time

Profile picture of Tom Rains
by Tom Rains ConsumerAffairs Research Team
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A manufacturer's warranty, also known as a factory warranty or new car warranty, is the warranty that comes with a new car. This type of warranty covers 100% of the cost of repairs needed because of defects in materials or craftsmanship for a set number of years or miles.

How does a manufacturer's warranty work?

A manufacturer's warranty typically covers everything except normal wear and tear and routine maintenance — usually at no additional cost to the owner. This coverage lasts for a set period, typically at least three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. It also often includes powertrain coverage, which lasts for a longer period or more miles, corrosion coverage and emissions coverage. It may also include roadside assistance and other benefits.

Most of the time, a new car warranty is transferable. That means if you sell your new car to someone else and the warranty hasn’t expired, it stays in effect with the new owner.

What does a manufacturer's warranty cover?

Manufacturer warranties cover failures caused by faulty materials or poor craftsmanship. They don’t cover routine maintenance or normal wear and tear on the vehicle. They also don’t cover damage from accidents, which is the purpose of car insurance.

There are several different types of manufacturer’s warranties, and they don’t all cover the same things. Some common warranty types are:

  • Limited: Most new vehicles come with a limited warranty that covers all car components. The coverage does not extend to damage caused by wear and tear and routine maintenance. Limited may also refer to the warranty only applying for the original purchaser of the vehicle, although this is uncommon.
  • Bumper-to-bumper: Limited and bumper-to-bumper warranties usually refer to the same coverage. This kind of warranty covers nearly every system and component on the car, but it doesn’t apply to routine maintenance or wear and tear. The bumper-to-bumper warranty often lasts three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
  • Powertrain: Powertrain coverage includes repairs to the components that power the vehicle, such as the engine, transmission and drive system. The powertrain warranty lasts longer than the bumper-to-bumper warranty — five years or 60,000 miles is standard.
  • Roadside assistance: Roadside assistance is helpful for times when your car breaks down. A roadside assistance plan includes coverage for things like fuel delivery, changing a flat tire, jump-starting a battery or towing.
  • Federal emissions: If your vehicle fails to meet emissions requirements, the manufacturer pays for repairs, replacements or adjustments.
  • Rust or corrosion: The manufacturer covers corrosion of the vehicle’s sheet metal, usually for five years and an unlimited number of miles.

Manufacturer's warranty vs. extended warranty

The term “manufacturer's warranty” refers to the original coverage from the car maker that comes with a new vehicle. Eventually, this coverage expires, either when a certain amount of time passes after the purchase date or the vehicle’s odometer passes a set number of miles. If you want coverage after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you need to purchase an extended warranty.

What is an extended warranty?

Extended warranties provide coverage for car repairs after the original manufacturer’s warranty expires. Despite the name, extended warranties rarely extend the original coverage. Instead, the coverage comes from a third party that usually offers different levels of protection, including plans that closely resemble the original manufacturer’s warranty. Extended warranties commonly include benefits like roadside assistance, trip interruption reimbursement and rental car coverage.

Vehicle owners buy these warranties from extended auto warranty companies and pay for them in monthly installments. Coverage lasts a specific number of months or miles, and users typically pay a deductible for repairs. Most extended auto warranty companies give you the freedom to choose where to get vehicle repairs.

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    How long is a manufacturer's warranty?

    Factory warranty lengths differ depending on the car manufacturer and the coverage type. The limited portion of the warranty, often referred to as the “bumper-to-bumper coverage,” typically lasts three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Powertrain warranties commonly last five years or 60,000 miles. Rust and corrosion coverage ordinarily lasts five years and an unlimited number of miles. Check with the car dealership or read your vehicle’s owners manual for more information about other warranty coverages and their respective durations.

    How to check if a car is still under warranty

    There are several ways to check if a car is still under warranty.

    • If you bought the car new: If you bought the car new, consult the owners manual for information about how long your warranty lasts. You can also call any dealership of the same manufacturer and provide your vehicle identification number (VIN) to the service department.
    • If you bought your car used: If your car is used and you know the vehicle’s in-service date, you can consult the owners manual to figure out if the car is under warranty. If you don’t know the in-service date, you can find it by downloading a vehicle history report online. Have your VIN ready. You can also call a dealership of the same vehicle make and ask the service department for assistance.

    Manufacturer's warranty FAQ

    Can a used car still be under warranty?
    Yes, the original manufacturer’s warranty on a vehicle usually transfers to a new owner.
    Are all warranties transferable?
    Not always. Some manufacturer's warranties only apply to the original owner, and some extended auto warranties aren’t transferable.
    Is there a deductible with new car warranties?
    Not usually. If your vehicle is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty, the manufacturer often pays 100% of covered repair costs.
    What voids a car warranty?
    Improper maintenance, repairs or upgrades to your vehicle may void the warranty. But the manufacturer cannot void your warranty just because someone else worked on it or you installed an aftermarket part. To avoid warranty issues, read your warranty carefully and get regular maintenance (and keep the receipts).
    Do I have to service my car at the dealer to keep the warranty valid?
    No, and it’s illegal for your vehicle manufacturer to void your warranty simply because a dealership didn’t do the work. According to the Federal Trade Commission, however, a manufacturer or dealership can require you to use specific facilities if the services are provided for free.
    Do you have to pay for a factory warranty?
    No, the factory warranty is included in the price of the new vehicle.
    Are oil changes covered under warranty?
    Oil changes are not usually covered under a vehicle warranty, whether it’s a manufacturer’s warranty or an extended auto warranty. Some manufacturers or dealerships may include complimentary oil changes with the purchase of the vehicle, and some extended auto warranty providers have plans that cover routine maintenance.

    Bottom line

    The manufacturer's warranty on your car pays for repairs and may provide other benefits, such as roadside assistance, for a limited period of time or miles. If you want coverage once the factory warranty expires, consider an extended auto warranty to keep your vehicle covered in case of breakdown.

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    Profile picture of Tom Rains
    by Tom Rains ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    Tom Rains graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2014 with a master’s degree in Professional Writing. Tom’s passion for delivering quality content fuels him to provide consumers with accurate, well-researched information on major life purchases.