How to Get the Best Use of Your Car Warranty

how to get the most of your new, used, or extended car warranty

Whether your car warranty is new, used, or extended get the most of your coverage before it expires.

You just spent quite a lot on your new or pre-owned vehicle and you’re hoping you won’t have to put more money into your car in the near future.

You can greatly minimize future cost by understanding the coverage types and lengths of your new, used, or extended car warranty.

When buying a car and the auto insurance to go with it, understanding where your car warranty and auto insurance coverages would overlap– or leave you vulnerable– will save you money and protect you financially.

What is a car warranty?

A new or used car warranty is a legally binding promise from a vehicle manufacturer or dealer to cover the costs of designated repairs or part replacements that may occur during the specified warranty period.

These repairs typically include any auto parts that have broken down, have been found faulty, defective, or recalled.

Vehicle warranties do NOT cover regular maintenance or repairs needed due to:

  • accidents
  • collisions
  • weather damage
  • fire damage
  • negligence
  • damage from fluids or fuels
  • theft

A warranty period can be set to a certain amount of time, usually 3 years, or to a certain mileage, usually 36,000 miles. But, these times will differ based on the vehicle manufacturer and dealer.

A car dealership or manufacturer cannot deny the warranty even if another auto body shop does the routine maintenance or repairs for you, according to the nation’s consumer protection agency, The Federal Trade Commision (FTC).

A warranty will remain in effect whether you take your car to your own mechanic or the dealer’s service shop.

How much does a car warranty cost?

Both new and used car warranties have a deductible, a flat fee you must pay before the dealer or manufacturer will cover any cost of repairs or replacements.

Warranty deductibles differ based on vehicle brands and whether or not the car is new or certified pre-owned.

What is an extended car warranty?

When an original vehicle warranty expires, car owners have the option to purchase an extended warranty, also known as a service contract that will provide repairs and maintenance.

Extended warranty contracts are sold by manufacturers, car dealers, and independent providers and do NOT go into effect until your original warranty ends.

The cost of an extended warranty depends on your mileage and past repairs.

Vehicle with fewer miles and repairs will be able to get a cheaper warranty price; a good reason to hold onto your service receipts.

Purchasing extended warranties can be a tricky business, especially through third party companies that might not be trustworthy.

Because extended warranties are optional, it’s recommended you simple get the service coverage you need through your auto insurance provider.

What is a used car warranty?

Just like a new car warranty, a certified pre-owned car (CPO) warranty will cover and track repair costs.

Used car warranties also have their conditions and limits when it comes to what coverages are included and for how long. The length of a used car warranty is generally shorter than a new car’s. They can last anywhere from 3 months to 3 years.

What repairs do a car warranty cover?

Before purchasing a warranty with your vehicle, you should have your dealer answer the following questions:

  1. The length of the warranty
  2. The point of contact for service
  3. What car parts and repairs are covered
  4. Any additional conditions or limitations of the warranty

Just like auto insurance coverage, there are different protection levels for warranties. The most common types of car warranty coverage offered include:

  • Bumper to bumper warranty: The most comprehensive warranty plan that covers all factory installed parts and systems, except typical wear and tear like tires, brake pads, and windshield wiper blades.
  • Powertrain/Drivetrain warranty: A longer warranty plan that covers large parts like your engine, transmission, and transaxle parts.
  • Corrosion/Rust warranty: Covers cost of repairs due to rust or premature corrosion of major sheet metal of the vehicle. Some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty for this service.
  • Roadside Assistance warranty: Covers the cost of towing and tire changing if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
  • Federal Emission warranty: Covers cost of repairs/installations to systems or parts that no longer meet the Environmental Protection Agency standards.

What does auto insurance cover that car warranties don’t?

Vehicle warranties are only a guarantee made by a manufacturer on the quality of their product.

If car parts do not function or stand up as promised the warranty will cover the cost of repair or replacement for a specific part that deteriorated as a result of the quality. Warranties do not cover repairs or replacements for damages caused by the daily risks of driving a vehicle.

However, car insurance does cover the risks and damages such as accidents, collisions, storm damage, car rentals, and roadside assistance.

As a paying client, your insurance company is obligated to financially protect and reimburse you and your property up to the amount you are insured.

How can drivers can keep their car warranties?

Vehicle warranties can be found void, or ineffective, if you neglect your car and do not keep up with regular maintenance and inspections.

Regular maintenance usually involves oil changes, tire rotations, fluid checks and flushes, brake pads, belt replacement, and so on.

Besides scheduled upkeep, they are many other ways to get the most out of your car warranty.

For starters, you can read your warranty in entirety, which is often part of your vehicle’s owner manual. The written description will give you an overview of your coverage details, conditions, limitations, and warranty period.

You should also keep all records and receipts from services you’ve had performed on your vehicle. Create a file to keep track of any and all repairs and inspections whether they were covered by your warranty or not.

These receipt will be a lifesaver in the event your dealer or manufacturer tries to say you were neglecting your vehicle in an attempt to void your warranty.

You also shouldn’t be afraid to speak with a supervisor if you think your warranty claim has been unfairly denied.

And if you still aren’t satisfied with the service you’ve been provider, it’s acceptable to go to another dealer, directly to the manufacturer, or to file a complaint with the FTC.

Will using aftermarket or recycled car parts void my warranty?

No, using aftermarket or recycled vehicle parts will not void your warranty.

An aftermarket car part is made by a manufacturing company other than your vehicle’s brand.

A recycled car part is a part that was made for and installed in a new vehicle and later removed and made available for resale or reuse.

When repairing your car, your manufacturer or dealer can require drivers to use select parts if those parts are provided free of charge under the warranty.

However, if your aftermarket or recycled car part causes damages, wasn’t installed correctly, or is defective your dealer or manufacturer has the right to deny coverage for those repairs.

The best new car warranties

Not all automakers offer the same brand warranties for their new vehicles.

Understanding your car’s warranty will allow you to properly budget and plan for repairs and maintenance. Several automakers offer free maintenance in addition to their long warranties.

Keep in mind that the below table outlines NEW vehicle warranties and that these might not carry over to pre-owned or used cars.

Automaker Bumper to Bumper Powertrain Corrosion/Rust Roadside Assistance Free Maintenance
Mitsubishi 5-years/60,000-miles 10-years/100,000-miles 7-years/100,000-miles 5 years/unlimited mileage No
Hyundai 5-years/60,000-miles 10-years/100,000-miles 7-years/unlimited mileage 5 years/unlimited mileage No
Kia 5-years/60,000-miles 10-years/100,000-miles 100,000 miles 60,000 miles No
Chevrolet 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 6-years/100,000-miles. 3-years/36,000-miles 2-years/24,000-miles
GMC 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 6-years/100,000-miles. 3-years/36,000-miles 2-years/24,000-miles
Buick 4-years/50,000-miles 6-years/70,000-miles 6-years/100,000-miles. 6-years/70,000-miles 2-years/24,000-miles
Cadillac 4-years/50,000-miles 6-years/70,000-miles 4-years or 50,000 miles 6-years/70,000-miles 2-years/24,000-miles
BMW 4-years/50,000-miles 4-years/50,000-miles 12-years/unlimited mileage 4-years/unlimited mileage 3-years/36,000-miles
Honda 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 3-years/36,000-miles Covered if towed to nearest Honda dealer No
Nissan 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 5-years/unlimited mileage Covered if damage under warranty No
Toyota 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 5-years/unlimited mileage 2-years/unlimited mileage 2-years/ 25,000-miles
Ford 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 5-years/unlimited mileage 5-years/60,000-miles No
Mazda 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 5-years/unlimited mileage 3-years/36,000-miles No
Subaru 3-years/36,000-miles 5-years/60,000-miles 5-years/unlimited mileage 3-years/36,000-miles No

As you can see, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, and Kia have the best car warranties on the market for the cost of their vehicle models with a maximum of 10 years on their powertrain warranties.

Automakers like Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Mazda, and Subaru offer the most standard kind of coverage in their warranties.

The best extended car warranties

Remember that extended warranties are optional and that most drivers would get the same or better coverage through their insurance company rather than another warranty.

It’d be best to compare the top rated extended warranty services with car insurance quotes for similar coverages.

Company Quoted Rates Downpayment Repair Deductible Max warranty length Roadside Assistance
Endurance $96.43 $128.58 $200 5 years Yes
ASAP $2,550 N/A $100 6 years Yes
Autopom $82.88 $221 $200 5 years Yes
CarCHEX $102.63 $246.3 $200 6 years Yes
AA Auto Protection $97.85 $123.6 $100 6 years Yes
Delta Auto Protect $117 $300 $50 5 years Yes
Protect My Car $85.83 $249 $100 5 years Yes
Warranty Direct $78.8 $157.6 $100 5 years Yes
USAA $120.34 $0 $0 4 years Yes
Easy Care N/A N/A $100 5 years Yes

The best car warranty isn’t necessary the most affordable

Finding a vehicle and insurance plan you can afford and trust are more important than finding the longest and most comprehensive car warranty.

Long after a car warranty ends, you will most likely still own the vehicle and the insurance that is the best fit for your car.

While warranties are a great perk, they’re not as foundational as a reliable car and insurance provider.

Updated August 23, 2018

Micaela Allen is a Boston-based writer and editor. Over the years, she has written over 100 original pieces for Insurify, focusing on trends in the insurance industry and financial advice for young and uninsured drivers. Micaela is an alumna of Northeastern University, where she majored in English.