Auto warranties can be great things, but one of the worst parts about them is needing to have any and all maintenance performed at a certified dealership. It makes sense, of course, but what the dealers don’t tell you is that they like to tack on services you don’t need in addition to the services covered by your warranty. And they may even encourage you to have service done at their dealership when none of it is covered under your warranty.
Now, a lot of different kinds of services are covered under your powertrain and bumper-to-bumper warranties, but some aren’t. We’re here to let you know which ones you may want to take to the corner mechanic or handle for yourself.
Breaking Down Your Warranties
First thing’s first: if you can get a warranty included on a car at no additional cost, you should do so. If the dealer is trying to sell you a warranty, be sure you’ve done your research ahead of time before you commit to it.
Your bumper-to-bumper warranty is so-named because it’s supposed to cover everything from one bumper to the other, essentially everything on your car. Unfortunately, they don’t include maintenance issues like topping off your fluids or changing your oil, but your air conditioning, on-board audio, fuel system, and major electrical components should all be covered.
The thing is, though, those features often last well beyond your initial warranty coverage. Short bumper-to-bumper warranties generally only hit the truly unforeseen issues, things that shouldn’t have ever been a problem to begin with. It’s rare a bumper-to-bumper warranty lasts more than 3 years or 36,000 miles.
You may have noticed that we didn’t mention your tires, battery, or exhaust system/muffler. Those usually aren’t included under any warranty coverage, and you’ll be left footing the bill on your own.
Once your bumper-to-bumper warranty is gone, your powertrain warranty is usually all you have left. These can last anywhere from 5-10 years or 60-100,000 miles from date of purchase. This type of warranty almost exclusively covers your engine and transmission as well as your joints and drive shaft.
Read the Fine Print
While these notes are great for the broad strokes, your warranty and your neighbor’s warranty won’t be the same unless they’re the same vehicle. And some automakers are even including auto maintenance for a few years on their new models. Always read the details on your warranty and never assume that the dealership will be covering any repairs—be ready to fight for your coverage if you have to; you paid for it, after all!
January 5, 2015 by Jamie Rettig