Car Warranty: What Is It and What Does It Cover?
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You're driving down the highway, setting out on a week-long trip, and looking forward to the days ahead. You've got a full tank of gas, your bags are packed, and the GPS is guiding you down the road.
But what if you encounter a mechanical breakdown while you're miles away from home? Will your vehicle's warranty cover the cost of any needed repairs?
That's why it pays to know your auto warranty coverage. Having this information handy alleviates the uneasiness with unexpected repairs, so you know just how much or how little you'll owe.
While all new vehicles leave the factory with a warranty, you also have options when buying used, ensuring you drive worry-free for the miles ahead.
Let's look at car warranties, how long they last, and what they cover.
What is a vehicle warranty?
A vehicle warranty is an agreement with a car manufacturer or a third party that covers the cost of parts and repairs for a set period or mileage.
Manufacturers typically cover new vehicles with a bumper-to-bumper warranty for several years after purchase, with the option to extend coverage once the original period expires. An example of a new vehicle warranty period is four years/50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Though new vehicle warranties include many areas, like engine and transmission, other items remain the owner's responsibility, such as the tires or brake pads.
With a new vehicle manufacturer's warranty, factory-trained technicians provide repairs and OEM replacement parts free of charge, provided they occur within the coverage time frame.
Other warranties cover different components, such as rust-through warranties, powertrain warranties, or emissions system warranties. Each specific warranty varies in its length of coverage and depends on the manufacturer.
You can also receive the protection of a vehicle warranty when you buy used. Third-party warranties offer similar levels of coverage as those provided by manufacturers and are available for purchase from different companies.
Third-party vehicle warranties are especially reassuring as vehicles get older and the miles roll by, giving you peace of mind that repairs are covered.
When you need a warranty on your used car, look no further than Shift. With their excellent Vehicle Protection Plans, Shift protects your vehicle for the long haul. Areas covered include engine, transmission, suspension, and more. You also receive the comfort of free towing, jump starts, and rental car reimbursement. And should you get locked out of your vehicle, you’ll receive repayment for the use of a locksmith.
What a car warranty doesn't cover
Though a car warranty provides insurance against unexpected car repairs and replacement parts, some components are the driver's responsibility.
Specifically, items that undergo normal wear and tear remain the obligation of the vehicle owner. Examples include tires, brake pads, air filters, corrosion from road salt, and spark plugs.
This is where keeping up with routine maintenance pays off, keeping your vehicle running its best, and avoiding excessive wear and tear on essential components.
Regularly rotating your tires spreads treadwear evenly and extends their longevity. If you experience a series of winter storms and drive along salt-covered roads, a wash and wax rinses it all away and protects your paint. And following your manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule for oil changes and filter replacement ensures optimum performance.
Ways to void a car warranty
Though a car warranty provides valuable insurance, certain conditions apply to maintain coverage.
Since today's vehicles are such high technology machines, each part is designed specifically for its intended purpose. If a vehicle owner performs modifications and installs aftermarket parts, they might void the warranty. This isn't always the case, so it pays to check with the manufacturer.
You might also void your warranty if you drive your car on a track or take it off-road. The mechanical strain and stress of hard driving puts extra wear on mechanical components, leading to more frequent failures and replacements.
And if you tow a boat or trailer that exceeds your vehicle's tow rating, that can also void the warranty.
Even if you take a car designed for off-road performance into the wilderness and along rocky trails, you face the possibility of a voided warranty.
Whether you need a sedan or a coupe, Shift has the quality used car for you. Shift's certified mechanics perform extensive 150-point inspections on every car and have complete vehicle history reports, so you know your used car feels as good as new.
2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost (from $27,950)
Extended car warranty
Once the original manufacturer's warranty runs out, an extended car warranty keeps you covered for the years ahead. Extended car warranties are available from either the original manufacturer or third-party warranty providers.
Like the original warranty, an extended warranty guards you against unexpected repairs and typically covers major components like the engine, transmission, and electrical systems. Coverage varies from provider to provider, so doing your research ahead of time will help you make the best choice.
The price of an extended warranty is affected by several factors, including make, mileage, deductible amount, and provider.
These factors also come into play when deciding whether or not you'd like to purchase an extended warranty. If your car has high mileage or might need expensive replacement parts, an extended warranty could be a wise investment.
Used car warranty
The warranty on a used car depends on its age and mileage. Most new vehicles come with a factory warranty of three to four years or 36,000 to 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
In most cases, the manufacturer's warranty transfers to the new owner when a vehicle's sold. However, when the original warranty runs out, purchasing an extended warranty can pay dividends down the road.
An extended warranty on a used car reassures you as the years and miles go by, letting you drive without worry. And buying a used car can save you many thousands of dollars versus buying a new one, so an extended warranty is the icing on the cake.
If you're in the market for a fuel-efficient compact car like the Ford Focus, Shift has what you need. On Shift's easy-to-use website, you can buy the vehicle of your choice from the comfort of your home. If you live in one of Shift's many service areas, a concierge will drive to you, so you can take a test drive before signing the papers.
2014 Ford Focus SE (from $10,450)
Car warranty in summary
A car warranty provides valuable protection against unexpected repairs and replacement parts. If you buy a new vehicle for the first several years, most major components are covered. If you buy a used car, you can take advantage of the remaining factory warranty or purchase an extended warranty for the years ahead.
As vehicles get older and the miles add up, buying an extended warranty can pay dividends if you encounter mechanical issues and need replacement parts. This extra layer of protection allows you all of the financial benefits of buying used and gives you peace of mind.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author or Shift Technologies, Inc. Shift does not endorse or evaluate the accuracy of any claims made or data provided by third party sources referenced herein.
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
April 15, 2022
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.