What Is a Lifetime Powertrain Warranty?

Discover how a lifetime powertrain warranty offers protection for key components of your car should they fail.

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A lifetime powertrain warranty will cover the cost of repairs to key components of your car if they fail. This is an additional warranty provided by dealerships that goes beyond what's provided by the manufacturer's warranty. Here's everything you need to know about how lifetime powertrain warranties work.

What Is a Powertrain?

In short, a powertrain is your car's source of propulsion. A traditional powertrain converts fuel into kinetic energy in the engine, which is then sent to the driveshaft to get your wheels turning. It's the heart of what makes a car move, and if it fails, your car isn't going anywhere.

What Does a Lifetime Powertrain Warranty Cover?

In general, this warranty covers repairs to the components in your drivetrain, engine, transmission, and drive axles. When you look at the details of your warranty coverage, it's going to show a much longer list because each of those main components has many small parts. Ask your dealer questions if there's something you expect to see on the list that's missing.

Note that this warranty does not cover every part of your car. Your wheels and motors for things like power windows, locks, and windshield wipers—along with a multitude of other parts—are not considered a part of your powertrain. If you need to have repairs under warranty, parts not on the list may not be covered.

How Much Does This Warranty Cost?

This all depends on the dealership you are purchasing your vehicle from, because unlike the manufacturer's warranty, this warranty is not from the automaker. Some dealerships don't offer one at all. Other dealerships include them for no added cost when you purchase a vehicle, but they may only be available for certain vehicles. A dealership may also offer a lifetime powertrain warranty at an added cost. You should inquire with the dealership where you are purchasing your vehicle about the terms of its lifetime powertrain warranty.

Is the Coverage Transferable to a New Owner?

Maybe—this is another question you should ask the dealership. Some dealerships only provide this coverage to the original purchaser of the vehicle. If you sell your car, then that person no longer has the coverage. There are also some dealerships that may transfer coverage, so it's a good question to ask when you're buying your car.

What Do I Have to Do to Maintain Coverage?

Just because you have a lifetime powertrain warranty doesn't mean you can simply ignore maintenance and expect the dealership to take care of any resulting issues. You must maintain your vehicle and have it serviced at the manufacturer's recommended intervals, or per terms stated in the warranty, in order to keep your coverage.

This includes changing your oil and transmission fluid and, if your vehicle has four-wheel or all-wheel drive, the transfer case fluid. Changing spark plugs, flushing the coolant system, checking the belts, and having differentials serviced are all part of routine maintenance. Refer to the owner's manual for the recommended service intervals for your specific vehicle.

Do I Need Proof of Maintenance?

Yes, you will need to be able to provide proof that you had all the recommended services done to your vehicle. Keep those receipts, because even for something as simple as an oil change, the dealership will want proof that you had the job done at the recommended interval.

While you can usually have service done at a place of your choosing, make sure this is the case with your specific coverage. Ask about the requirements for maintenance, where service can be done, and what constitutes proof so you have all the required documentation should you have a warranty claim.

Is Coverage of a Claim Guaranteed?

As with almost any warranty, some circumstances could cause a dealership to deny coverage under warranty. A lack of proper maintenance and the accompanying proof of service is one reason why coverage may be denied. Improper use of your vehicle could also cause a denial. This includes towing more than the maximum tow rating of your vehicle or driving it off-road over terrain it was never intended to handle. If you intentionally abuse your vehicle, then there's a chance your claim could be refused.

A lifetime powertrain warranty is designed to provide peace of mind so you don't worry about potentially expensive repairs. Be sure you understand what is included and what you need to do to maintain your warranty so repairs are covered if you need to file a claim.

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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.