Thinking About a Lifetime Powertrain Warranty? Here's What to Consider

A lifetime powertrain warranty is just one of the many types of warranties that may be included when you purchase a vehicle.

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A lifetime powertrain warranty is just one of the many types of warranties that may be offered when you purchase a vehicle. While some warranties are secured directly through the automaker, this one comes from the dealership.

Here's a few key details about lifetime powertrain warranties.

What Is a Powertrain Warranty?

New vehicles include a powertrain warranty that comes directly from the automaker. It covers your drivetrain, engine, transmission, and drive axle as well as the numerous parts that make up those major components. This coverage is not for the lifetime of your vehicle. Instead, it's offered for a limited number of miles or months, whichever milestone you hit first.

An average powertrain warranty covers a vehicle for five years or 60,000 miles, but the exact coverage varies depending on the automaker and even the vehicle in question. Some powertrain warranties offer greater coverage periods, while others have shorter time frames.

What Other Warranties Are Available?

A powertrain warranty is only one of the warranties that the automaker may offer when you purchase a vehicle. Additional warranties include a new vehicle warranty that covers components such as the audio system, motors for windows, door locks, windshield wipers, and a range of other parts that aren't part of your vehicle's powertrain. There may be an anti-perforation warranty to cover against rust-through of sheet metal, and emissions warranties to cover defects in emissions equipment (including the catalytic converter).

If you purchase a hybrid vehicle, there are extra warranties to cover hybrid-specific items like batteries. Many automakers also offer 24-hour roadside assistance for a limited period of time when you purchase a new vehicle. All of these warranties are offered directly by the automaker — not the dealership — when you purchase a car.

Who Offers a Lifetime Powertrain Warranty?

A lifetime powertrain warranty adds on to the limited-time powertrain coverage provided by the automaker. It expands the coverage beyond the limited number of miles/years offered in the automaker's powertrain warranty into coverage that is good for the life of the car. Unlike the limited warranty, this one is provided by the dealership rather than the automaker. This can be a major difference.

Does Every Dealership Offer a Lifetime Powertrain Warranty?

The quick answer is no, not every dealership offers lifetime powertrain warranties. The coverage provided all depends on the dealership. Some dealerships provide it on every car they sell, while others may limit this coverage to specific vehicles. Some dealerships don't offer lifetime powertrain warranties at all.

It's important to note that since these warranties are specific to each dealership, you should carefully evaluate what is and is not included, along with your responsibilities for maintaining coverage. The terms may be different at two dealerships, even if you're looking at the same year, make, and model of car.

If a lifetime powertrain warranty is important to you, inquire to see which dealerships in your area offer available coverage for the car you're looking to purchase. It can extend your coverage beyond what was offered directly from the automaker. Since it's not available at every dealership, you may need to shop around if you want to find this type of coverage for your vehicle.

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Nicole Wakelin
I write about cars. A lot. That's because I’ve always loved cars and the fact that they regularly hand me the keys to shiny new automobiles so I can write about them is a constant source of amazement. I cover breaking news, write reviews, and attend auto shows and new vehicle launches across the country. The more winding the road and the more unknown the route, the better.