Your vehicle's powertrain creates movement and delivers it to the wheels. If any component involved fails, you might be stuck paying high repair costs to get your car moving again. However, a powertrain warranty covers the cost to repair or replace any part of your powertrain that fails due to a manufacturing defect or malfunction.
What is a powertrain warranty and what does it cover?
A vehicle's powertrain is all the parts that create power and deliver it to the wheels, including its engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential(s) and axle(s). If any of these components unexpectedly need repairs, the expense can be significant, which is why a powertrain warranty is worth considering.
The engine is the largest and most expensive item covered by a powertrain warranty. Your engine block contains a crankshaft, pistons and many other parts that help your car turn air, fuel and sparks into movement. A powertrain warranty covers the complete engine, including failure or issues with its components.
Everything else a powertrain warranty covers is technically part of your drivetrain. The drivetrain includes your:
- Transfer case (if applicable)
The complexity of your drivetrain mostly depends on whether your car has front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Issues with any of these components can bring your car to a grinding halt, and you’ll have to pay up or fix them yourself if you want to get back on the road. Transmissions are particularly expensive to replace, sometimes costing several thousands of dollars without coverage.
What does a powertrain warranty not cover?
Simply put, if a part doesn’t contribute to creating power or transferring it to the wheels, don’t expect it to be covered under a powertrain warranty. This means that, even with a powertrain warranty, you’re still responsible for repairs to essential components, like brakes, and comfort-oriented parts, like air conditioning.
If you want help paying for repairs to other parts of your vehicle, bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage might be a better choice. Bumper-to-bumper coverage is more expensive, but it can be worth it if you’re worried about your car’s other systems.
It’s also worth noting that not every powertrain warranty covers seals and gaskets, so be sure to read the details of your plan to find out whether or not these components are included. Likewise, most powertrain warranty plans do not cover your wheels or tires, even though they’re the final step in transmitting power to the ground. Tires need to be replaced roughly every six years, but it’s hard to find a warranty that includes coverages for tires, even bumper-to-bumper plans.
Car warranty coverage also generally doesn’t include maintenance or replacing items designed to wear down, though you may be required to keep up with both as part of your policy. Plan to take care of the following items yourself:
- Oil changes are usually necessary every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.
- Brake pads need to be replaced every 25,000 to 70,000 miles, and rotors are typically replaced about every 70,000 miles.
- Occasional tire rotations help extend the life of your tires.
Factor these costs into your budget on top of whatever you’re spending on your vehicle, its fuel and its warranty.
Finally, a powertrain warranty, like all auto warranties, doesn’t cover damage sustained from an accident, vandalism or theft. These events should be covered by your car insurance. Your warranty only covers repairs and replacements that come about due to a malfunction or a breakdown.
How much does a powertrain warranty cost?
Powertrain warranties typically cost between $350 and $1,000 per year. In many cases, you pay for the warranty upfront, with the cost wrapped into your vehicle's purchase price. In other cases, you may make a down payment at the start of coverage and a monthly payment thereafter. Most warranties also require a deductible ranging from $50 to $100.
Powertrain warranties are a great option for drivers who have unreliable vehicles or plan to own their vehicles for a long time. Depending on when and where you buy, you can get a powertrain warranty from your car dealership, your manufacturer or an independent auto warranty company.
You might also see options for:
- Bumper-to-bumper warranties, which cover more components but generally cost more and don't last as long.
- Drivetrain warranties, which include everything in your powertrain except the engine.
Powertrain warranty FAQ
- How long does a powertrain warranty last?
- Manufacturers’ powertrain warranties usually last for four to six years or 75,000 to 100,000 miles — whichever comes first. You can get coverage for high-mileage cars with up to 250,000 miles or more through an extended warranty company.
- Are there lifetime powertrain warranties?
- Yes, some companies offer powertrain warranties with unlimited terms. However, these warranties usually include a monthly fee that runs the life of the warranty. This monthly cost may be $100 to $200 per month.
- How is a powertrain warranty different from a bumper-to-bumper warranty?
- A powertrain warranty differs from a bumper-to-bumper warranty in regards to what it covers. A powertrain warranty only includes the engine and drivetrain, but it’s likely to last longer than a bumper-to-bumper plan. Bumper-to-bumper coverage includes more protection for your vehicle, covering almost everything that isn't a wear item, albeit at a greater expense.
- What voids a powertrain warranty?
- A few scenarios can void your powertrain warranty:
- Environmental damage
- Improper maintenance
Carefully read your warranty and note everything that may void your warranty coverage.
Are powertrain warranties worth it?
Yes, a powertrain warranty covers costs related to repairing or replacing your vehicle's engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential(s), drive axle(s) and transfer case, assuming you have four-wheel drive. These parts are essential to your vehicle’s operation, and fixing them can cost thousands of dollars without coverage. If you’re in the market for an extended auto warranty, shop around to find an affordable plan from a reputable warranty provider.
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