The Only Car Warranties Guide You'll Need

The Only Car Warranties Guide You'll Need

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Manufacturers build the vehicles of today to exact specifications. With the advent of computers, robotic welding, and impeccable paint systems, these days, cars are reminiscent of finely made works of art.

Even so, mechanical issues and manufacturing defects arise from time to time, and the costs of parts and labor can cause expenses to run high.

Take the elaborate infotainment system that keeps you virtually connected while you're on the road, which comes with the drawback of being complex and time-consuming to diagnose and fix. Or the turbocharged hybrid drivetrain, which gets you excellent fuel economy but contains expensive parts that can put a serious dent in your bank account.

An auto warranty financially protects you from unforeseen vehicle repairs for a defined time and mileage, usually whichever comes first. Whether provided by the original manufacturer or purchased through a third party, a vehicle warranty covers major vehicle components in the event of a mechanical breakdown. It often offers additional perks like roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement, too.

But when you read the fine print, what does a vehicle warranty cover exactly? And what about an extended car warranty for a used vehicle? Read on to find out all the details.

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What is an auto warranty?

A vehicle warranty is a contract between a car owner and a manufacturer or third party to cover expenses related to mechanical issues or manufacturer defects. An auto warranty covers a specific amount of time or miles driven, whichever comes first.

New cars typically come with a bumper-to-bumper warranty lasting three years or 36,000 miles, though some manufacturers offer lengthier terms. Hyundai's new car bumper-to-bumper warranty, for example, runs for four years or 50,000 miles. 

Once the original manufacturer's warranty expires, extended warranties offer coverage for an additional amount of time, giving drivers reassurance and protection as the miles add up. An extended car warranty can be beneficial as a vehicle gets on in age and mileage. 

However, to be eligible for the benefits of a car warranty, vehicle owners carry their responsibilities. Routine maintenance like oil changes, scheduled service, tire rotations, and filter changes are among the obligations for a vehicle warranty to remain in effect. 

If lack of regular maintenance causes mechanical issues to arise, you may void the warranty and be responsible for repair costs. Consulting your owner's manual shows you proper service intervals, as well as the correct grade of oil, recommended tire pressure, and required fuel. 

When you buy any used car – be it a Ford Focus or Kia Sorento – extra reassurance makes life easier. You never know when your vehicle might experience issues, whether the engine won't start or you pop a tire on a remote country road. Having a solid warranty gives you peace of mind. That's why Shift offers vehicle protection plans that let you enjoy the ride without worrying about unforeseen costs.

Shift vehicle protection plans cover your car from the sheet metal to the pavement, ensuring you're not responsible for thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs. Shift's vehicle protection plans also offer additional perks like free jump-starts and rental car reimbursement.

What does car warranty cover?

A manufacturer's car warranty covers parts and repairs in several specific areas. 

The bumper-to-bumper warranty on a new car provides extensive protection of mechanical systems but doesn't cover everything. Though a bumper-to-bumper warranty covers significant areas like the engine, braking system, and electrical system, other parts remain the owner's responsibility. Typically, a bumper-to-bumper warranty doesn't include coverage for wear and tear items like tires, oil, filters, brake pads, and spark plugs. 

The powertrain warranty on a car guarantees the engine, drivetrain, and transmission against problems and usually lasts longer than a bumper-to-bumper warranty. A typical powertrain warranty runs for six years or 60,000 miles, but some manufacturers take that a step further. Mitsubishi covers their powertrains for a lengthy 10 years or 100,000 miles. 

The rust and perforation warranty pledges that the bodywork and paint stand the test of time. A typical rust and perforation warranty covers five years and unlimited mileage.

With today's cars running ever cleaner to protect the environment, their emissions systems warranties guard against problems like defects in both the vehicle's design and engineering. Certain manufacturers, like Toyota, group the emissions warranty into their bumper-to-bumper warranty, providing long-term protection. Usually, emissions systems performance remains protected for two years or 24,000 miles. However, the major parts of the emissions system stay covered longer, in some cases for eight years or 80,000 miles. Because federal law mandates warranty coverage for parts of the emissions systems, terms are similar among manufacturers.

What is an extended car warranty?

Once a manufacturer's original warranty expires, an extended auto warranty provides many of the same protections for additional years and miles. Though usually not as comprehensive as the original bumper-to-bumper coverage, an extended warranty could prove to be just as valuable as a used car gets older, racks up miles, and faces possible repairs. 

Also known as a vehicle service contract, an extended car warranty guards you against expenses related to major repairs that could cost thousands of dollars. Reading the fine print on an extended warranty gives you a clearer picture of what's covered and what isn't. 

In the event of needed repairs, you'll need to pay a deductible before extended warranty benefits kick in. The deductible may be several hundred dollars, but it's a relatively small cost when you're facing a major engine issue or having problems with electrical components. 

Though an auto warranty gives you protection against unexpected repair costs, wouldn't it be nice to avoid them in the first place? At Shift, certified mechanics perform 150-point inspections on every vehicle in our inventory, and we provide a free Carfax report for ultimate assurance before you decide to buy. Not only that, you can buy any of Shift's cars directly online from the comfort of your home, know it has no hidden issues, and get a fair, up-front price. These are just some of the reasons it makes sense to buy from Shift.

2016 Ford Focus ST (from $16,650)

2016 Ford Focus ST (from $16,650)
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2016 Ford Focus ST (from $16,650)
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Car warranty in summary

A car warranty gives you peace of mind and protects you against repair-related expenses over some time. 

With today's vehicles featuring complex systems and parts, an auto warranty guards you against costly replacements, allowing you to enjoy driving rather than worry about future service.

Though a factory warranty offers comprehensive coverage, an extended warranty on a used car also offers valuable benefits. As vehicles get older and parts wear out, having an extended warranty could save you from costly auto repairs. 

While warranty coverage doesn't cover scheduled service or wear and tear items like tires or brake pads, it protects major components like the engine and transmission that usually entail the highest repair costs. 

Staying up to date on maintenance like oil changes, topping off fluids, and rotating your tires ensures you stay within the terms of an auto warranty and are eligible to receive all its benefits. 

Overall, having a car warranty – whether through the manufacturer or an extended one – gives you needed peace of mind for the miles ahead, and when repairs arise, it pays for itself many times over.

2015 Toyota Highlander XLE (from $27,650)

2015 Toyota Highlander XLE (from $27,650)
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Author
Shift Editorial Team