Car Warranties Explained

You've chosen the car, and now it's time to determine what a car warranty is, what it typically includes and how it is different from an extended warranty.

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Now that you've chosen your next vehicle, you're hopefully reveling in that new car feeling. Now is the time to think about how to maintain your vehicle. One thing you should use to your advantage is a new car warranty. But what is it? Let's explore exactly what a warranty is, what it typically includes, and how it is different from an extended warranty.

What is a Car Warranty?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, an "auto warranty is a contract to fix certain defects or malfunctions for specific amount of time after you buy a car." Simply put, it is an agreement between you and the automaker that your vehicle and the components within will be in good working order. It is also a written agreement stating in more detail that they will cover various repairs and defects for a certain number of miles, under a specific set of conditions, and provide you specific details on how to get problems that arise fixed.

Do new vehicles come with warranties?

Yes, they do, more than one in fact. The warranty most common on a new vehicle is a New Vehicle Limited Warranty, though it is sometimes called a 'Bumper to Bumper Warranty'. The other most well known warranty is a powertrain warranty. You can expect a New Vehicle Limited Warranty to cover problems that arise with the following systems:

  • Engine
  • Battery
  • Transmission
  • Suspension and drive axles
  • Steering
  • Electronic systems
  • Braking
  • Fuel system
  • Infotainment
  • Heating and air conditioning system

For the most part, if it shakes, rattles, or makes your vehicle feel unsound, then during the period of the limited warranty your vehicle is likely covered under the safety net of the protection that the agreement offers. The amount of time that you are covered varies from brand to brand, but the common standard is around three years/36,000 miles for the Limited Warranty. Lexus is four years/50,000 miles, and Kia and Hyundai provide buyers with five years/50,000 miles of coverage. The start date is your purchase date, and the clock starts ticking from there. The validity date is literally miles or years, whichever comes first; be sure to consult your warranty guide for the specific details of your contract.

The powertrain warranty covers — you guessed it — the powertrain components for a longer period of time. This warranty is often extended for hybrid vehicles, and is in effect for as long as 10 years or 100,000 miles for some brands. Be sure to read your warranty guide to carefully determine which applies to your vehicle.

What could invalidate my warranty?

If you fail to properly maintain your vehicle, then you may not be covered. So you still need to do regular oil changes and get those air filters changed. If you do damage to your vehicle by altering it with aftermarket parts and it breaks, you also will not be covered. Nor will you be covered for items that tend to need replacement due to regular usage. Things like tire replacement, dings, and scratches to your paint, theft or vandalism, or things that happen to your car as a result of natural disasters — none of those occurrences, regardless of how unfortunate, are covered.

Is an extended warranty the same as a new car warranty?

No, but in some cases it can provide an extra layer of coverage for buyers. Some coverage will be duplicated, depending on your administrator. Typically though, you do not need an extended car warranty for a new car. If you are a second buyer towards the end of the coverage then you might consider it. Expenses for unexpected repairs can be costly, and if your budget does not have the wiggle room for upwards of several thousand dollars, then an extended warranty could be a smart purchase.

This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
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Teia Collier
Native Texan with a love for people, auto, beautiful design and a grand adventure, Teia Collier is an award-winning writer based in the Dallas area. With a background in education, civic service, and public policy, she loves to discover the why behind a thing and to connect people with the best resources to make their lives better. Collier is also a mom of three, addicted to coffee, and the incoming president of the Texas Auto Writers Association.