What Is a Powertrain Warranty and What Does It Cover?
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A powertrain consists of several mechanical components that make up a vehicle’s engine and driveline, and it's an essential piece of engineering for any vehicle to operate. In short, the powertrain is what makes a car go.
When you press your foot onto the accelerator, spark plugs flash, fuel ignites, and pistons fire, turning the crankshaft thousands of times per minute. The transmission routes the power through a series of clutches and driveshafts, transmitting it to the wheels and tires.
So it's no surprise that a powertrain needs to provide acceleration and fuel economy while standing up to demanding road and weather conditions. If one component of the powertrain runs into trouble – like the gears in the transmission or the pistons in the engine – a vehicle can leave you stranded with costly repairs.
That's why it makes sense for manufacturers to include a powertrain warranty with every new vehicle that rolls off of the assembly line. But what exactly is a powertrain warranty? And what does a powertrain warranty cover? Let's look at powertrain warranties in more detail.
What is a powertrain?
A properly functioning powertrain is necessary to move down the road and power through difficult road conditions. The engine generates horsepower, which runs through the transmission and driveshafts before turning the wheels and propelling the vehicle forward or backward.
Unlike a faulty light switch or a window that won’t open, the powertrain is at the very heart of an automobile’s ability to perform. While you can perhaps live with minor mechanical quibbles here and there, if something goes wrong with the powertrain, your vehicle is essentially shipwrecked.
The specific parts that make up a car’s powertrain are the engine, transmission, driveshafts, differentials, supercharger, turbocharger, and – on all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive vehicles – the transfer case.
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What does a powertrain warranty cover?
A powertrain warranty protects the complex system of parts that make your vehicle go.
Powertrain warranties focus on specific areas essential to a vehicle's driving performance, like the engine, transmission, driveshafts, transfer case, axles, differentials, and turbochargers or superchargers.
What if a cylinder misfires in your engine, leading to a host of other problems, immobilizing your car? That's where the powertrain warranty kicks in. Or you shift your transfer case to switch to four-wheel drive, and nothing happens? A powertrain warranty covers the repairs to get it going again.
Though bumper-to-bumper warranties usually receive the most attention, powertrain warranties not only last longer, they ensure the most critical parts of your vehicle work properly.
However, for a powertrain warranty to remain in effect, the owner has their own set of responsibilities. Performing manufacturer-recommended maintenance like oil changes, filter changes, and installing new spark plugs not only keeps your vehicle running its best but also ensures you retain powertrain warranty coverage.
Additionally, powertrain warranties cover vehicles driven under normal conditions. So if you decide to take your sports car to the race track for some fast laps, a typical powertrain warranty won't cover this additional strain on the engine and transmission. Or, if you take your pickup truck or SUV for some heavy off-roading, most powertrain warranties won’t cover a broken transmission.
What does a powertrain warranty not cover?
As reassuring as powertrain warranties are, they don't cover everything.
Powertrain warranty exclusions apply to different areas of the drivetrain, like engine wiring and fuel system, transmission clutches, transfer case cooling lines and radiator, and parts of the drive system like wheel bearings and locking hubs.
Additionally, a powertrain warranty doesn't apply if you're in a collision and your vehicle suffers damage as a result. Or, if you decide to perform aftermarket modifications to gain added horsepower, causing engine damage in the process, the warranty won't pay for repairs.
Other situations that exclude powertrain warranty protection are damage caused by poor quality fuel, environmental causes, or improper maintenance.
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How long does a powertrain warranty last?
Typically, a manufacturer's powertrain warranty lasts longer than a bumper-to-bumper warranty. Bumper-to-bumper warranties usually last around three years or 36,000 miles, while powertrain warranties remain in effect for about five years or 60,000 miles.
However, a range of powertrain coverage terms exists among manufacturers. While the powertrain warranty on a Jaguar covers five years or 60,000 miles, Kia offers protection for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Lincoln and Cadillac provide six years or 70,000 miles of powertrain coverage.
Extended powertrain warranties
Once the manufacturer’s powertrain warranty expires, you have the option of purchasing an extended warranty from a third-party company.
As cars rack up miles over the years, wear-and-tear occurs, and repairs may be necessary. As time goes by, powertrain longevity is especially significant to a used vehicle, which provides critical propulsion and driving performance.
If you’d like to keep your car for a long time and want to drive without worrying about engine trouble, an extended powertrain warranty makes sense.
Depending on your budget, different coverage levels are available, and you receive peace of mind for the miles ahead.
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Shift works with several third-party providers to offer you different warranty plans at affordable monthly rates, too.
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Powertrain warranties in summary
A powertrain warranty provides coverage for areas essential to your vehicle’s driving performance, like the engine, transmission, and driveline.
In general, powertrain warranties cover lengthier terms than bumper-to-bumper warranties, but they don’t protect other parts like the electrical system or suspension.
Remember, as your vehicle gets older, purchasing an extended powertrain warranty makes sense in order to ensure your engine remains protected as the miles add up.
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April 15, 2022
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