What is a powertrain warranty? Warranties vary wildly from one carmaker to the next. This is true of comprehensive (bumper-to-bumper) warranties and powertrain warranties. These are the two warranties comprising the backbone of a vehicle’s protection.
There is also a corrosion warranty on most new vehicles and a separate hybrid or electric vehicle battery warranty. Tires carry their own separate warranty, as well.
Yes, it is a lot to keep track of. However, the powertrain warranty is the cornerstone of the protection because it covers your car’s most expensive components: engine, transmission, etc.
What Is a Powertrain Warranty?
A powertrain warranty is a type of limited warranty that covers the cost of repair or replacement for parts of the powertrain, such as the engine and transmission. Because these are some of the most important parts of the vehicle, they can be the costliest to fix. For some drivers, powertrain warranty coverage protects their wallets and their peace of mind.
Each powertrain warranty ends on an expiration date. Its shelf life is expressed in years and miles. Hyundai, Kia, Genesis, and Mitsubishi offer the best new car powertrain warranties in the business at 10 years or 100,000 miles.
This means the powertrain will be covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles, based on which comes first. In other words, the powertrain coverage doesn’t extend beyond 10 years if that milestone is reached first or 100,000 miles if that comes first.
Several carmakers offer powertrain coverage without a mileage limit. Their warranties will expire after a specified number of years, but it doesn’t matter how many miles you drive. Cadillac, Lincoln, Infiniti, and others offer such warranties.
As long as the powertrain warranty is active, if any covered component fails, the automaker will fix or replace it free of charge.
What Is Covered Under Powertrain Warranty?
As already stated, powertrain coverage begins with the engine and ends with the axle or axles in the case of all-wheel drive (AWD). But let’s get a little more specific.
The Powertrain Warranty Usually Covers
- Transmission: The second-most important component in the powertrain after the engine, the transmission translates engine output into motion that transfers to the driver shaft. Twenty years ago, we would have described it as a gearbox and called it a day, but not today. Many of today’s front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars use a continuously variable transmission, which uses pulleys and belts to accomplish what a traditional transmission does with a clutch and gears.
- Transfer case: For vehicles with all-wheel drive (AWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD), the transmission hands off engine torque to a transfer case, which in turn sends that output to the front and rear axles through driveshafts.
- Driveshaft: A rod-like component that transports engine torque from the transmission (or transfer case) to the differential on the drive-wheel axle.
- Differential: This is a gearbox sitting on the rear axle, controlling the rotation of the wheels. Making a turn or taking a curve, it’s important that the outside wheel rotates faster than the inside wheel. It’s the job of the differential to ensure that happens. On FWD vehicles, this box sits next to the transmission and is called a transaxle.
- Axle: This is the rod-like component responsible for actually rotating the wheels.
The Engine and Its Parts
Several parts comprise the engine. It’s the most expensive of the powertrain components. Usually, a powertrain warranty will cover nearly all of its parts. These include:
- Oil pan
- Cylinder block
- Fuel injectors
- Timing belt
- Fuel, water, and oil pumps
- Gaskets and seals
- Other internal parts
For the most part, the warranty covers major failures of the powertrain components.
What Powertrain Warranties Don’t Usually Cover
A powertrain warranty doesn’t cover anything not directly involved in propelling the vehicle. For example, the powertrain warranty doesn’t cover the air conditioning system. Nor is the steering system.
Here are other components and instances the carmaker’s powertrain warranty doesn’t cover:
- Wear-and-tear parts like spark plugs, air filters, oil filters, fuel filters, clutch, brake pads, and CV joints.
- Issues or damage caused by aftermarket components.
- Any alteration specifically prohibited in the warranty.
- Damage caused by an accident or collision.
- Misusing or abusing the vehicle.
- Acts of nature.
- Using contaminated or poor-quality fuel.
- Failure to follow the carmaker’s maintenance schedule might void the warranty.
How Long Does a Powertrain Warranty Last?
The automotive industry standard factory coverage for a new car powertrain warranty is 5 years or 60,000 miles. You will find this term of coverage for models from General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, Toyota, Honda, and others.
A few brands, like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, provide coverage for 4 years or 50,000 miles. Acura, Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, and Infiniti deliver 6 years or 70,000 miles of powertrain protection. And, of course, the fabulous four (Hyundai, Kia, Genesis, and Mitsubishi) cover the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Is a Powertrain Warranty Right for Me?
When purchasing a new car, you don’t really need to ask yourself this question. A powertrain warranty is part of the new car package. However, consider how long you plan to keep the car. Some powertrain coverage is better than others because it provides protection for longer terms.
The truth about your car’s powertrain is that it will eventually fail. The older and more use a vehicle gets, the more likely a powertrain failure is.
Powertrain Warranty for New Cars
Most new car powertrain warranties are good for five or six years and 60,000 or 70,000 miles. If your plan is to turn over that car before the powertrain coverage expires, no worries. However, if you’re keeping it beyond that, you should ask yourself if you want longer powertrain protection.
You can achieve that longer protection by either buying a vehicle with a longer powertrain warranty or buying an extended powertrain warranty. If you choose to take the extended-warranty path, we recommend securing a warranty backed by the carmaker.
If you choose to shop for third-party warranty companies, we urge you to do your homework. Closely read the fine print and verify their customer satisfaction ratings.
Typically, whatever remains of an automaker’s powertrain coverage is transferable to another owner when you sell or trade in your vehicle.
Powertrain Warranty for Used Cars
If you are shopping for a used car, some Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) programs include a form of extended powertrain coverage. This is your best bet in securing dependable protection.
If you buy a used car that’s not CPO, third-party companies also underwrite powertrain warranties, depending on the age and mileage of the car. Again, it’s buyer beware. Take some time and research any third-party warranty provider.
How Much Are Powertrain Repairs?
The cost of repairing or replacing powertrain components varies from model to model; however, you can usually count on the repairs to be expensive. For example, according to Kelley Blue Book’s research, replacing a failed transmission can cost between $2,900 and $7,100. Replacing an engine’s timing belt will set you back between $367 and $585.
What is a Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty?
A bumper-to-bumper warranty is sometimes offered when you purchase a new vehicle. It’s basically a comprehensive warranty that covers anything that could go wrong with your vehicle.
It is normally the shortest coverage warranty that you can get. Powertrain warranties, on the other hand, typically have the longest coverage.
Powertrain Warranty vs. Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty
We’ve already established that the powertrain and bumper-to-bumper warranties are the most important elements of your vehicle’s protection network.
The major differences between the two are what they cover and how long they last.
We use “bumper-to-bumper” as shorthand for a carmaker’s comprehensive warranty. In many cases, it’s not exactly bumper-to-bumper. However, it may not cover every little thing that goes wrong with your vehicle while it’s in effect.
However, the bumper-to-bumper warranty covers pretty much everything the powertrain warranty doesn’t. It still doesn’t cover wear-and-tear components like tires, light bulbs, and fuses.
Powertrain warranties last longer than bumper-to-bumper warranties. We mentioned Hyundai and others with that sweet 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hyundai’s bumper-to-bumper warranty is 5 years or 60,000 miles. Ford’s bumper-to-bumper warranty is 3 years or 36,000 miles, but Ford’s powertrain coverage is for 5 years or 60,000 miles.
Powertrain warranties almost always last longer than the bumper-to-bumper warranty.
Lifetime vs. Limited Powertrain Warranties
Lifetime powertrain warranties? Who wouldn’t want that? Well, there’s more to it than simply checking the “Yes” box and forking over some extra cash.
Lifetime Powertrain Warranties
Indeed, some dealers offer lifetime coverage, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. This is coverage separate from the manufacturer’s powertrain warranty. The dealer provides it, and that specific dealer must perform any warranty repairs covered by the lifetime warranty.
Moreover, maintaining that warranty coverage might require a very strict scheduled maintenance regimen beyond what the carmaker requires. Furthermore, the lifetime warranty may have restricted use clauses prohibiting towing and other assorted uses.
Unlimited powertrain warranties also usually won’t cover engine components like seals, gaskets, and other parts.
The good news, though, is you don’t need to worry about the terms of any unlimited warranty until the carmaker’s limited warranty expires.
Limited Powertrain Warranties
These warranties work exactly as their name implies. They are in force for a specific length of time or a stated number of driven miles. For example, Toyota’s 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty offers very defined coverage limits.
There are components these limited powertrain warranties won’t cover, like CV joints, but they tend to provide a wider range of covered parts than unlimited warranties.
Why You Need a Powertrain Warranty
Besides routine maintenance, insurance, registration, and other costs associated with owning a vehicle, car repairs can get incredibly expensive. And the most expensive repairs are associated with your car’s powertrain.
If you are purchasing a new or used vehicle, it is extremely important that it comes with a powertrain warranty. Warranties for sound systems, electrical components, and other aspects of the vehicle can be nice, but they pale in comparison to the costs associated with powertrain repairs and replacements.
Almost every single part of your powertrain will cost you at least several hundred dollars to up to several thousand dollars to repair or replace. A powertrain warranty is basically saying that the vehicle is solid and the main parts will be backed up if anything goes wrong.
What is the difference between insurance and an extended car warranty?
The basic difference between insurance and an extended car warranty is that insurance covers the cost of repairs from an accident or act of nature. On the other hand, an extended warranty pays for the cost of repairs in the event of a component, part, or system failure in a car.
What is a drivetrain warranty?
A car’s drivetrain includes pretty much everything in the powertrain, except the engine. A drivetrain warranty provides coverage for all of the other powertrain parts. It is often more affordable than a powertrain warranty because it doesn’t cover the engine, which is the most costly powertrain component.
Are powertrain warranties worth it?
Some major failure in a vehicle’s powertrain isn’t about “if,” it’s about “when.” Suppose you buy a used car without any powertrain coverage or buy a new car you plan on keeping long after the automaker’s powertrain warranty expires. In that case, you should consider a powertrain warranty.
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