Vehicle Warranty 101

Jun 9, 2021, 09:00 AM by Abby Adams, Senior Counsel, Dispute Resolution Programs, BBB AUTO LINE

The term “warranty” is common and can be applied to many different things – the purchase of a house, a new piece of technology, or a vehicle. Though a familiar term, what a warranty is and does is not always known beyond the general “it protects my purchase.” 

A warranty is a contract between the “purchaser” of a product, often called the “consumer,” and the “seller” of that product, usually a business. The warranty guarantees that the “maker” of the product will back it up with a promise of performance and fix any defects the consumer experiences, usually within a certain period of time. 

One of the most common types of warranties is a vehicle warranty, but not all vehicle warranties are the same. There are various types of vehicle warranties that cover different parts of the car and vary in the amount of mileage and number of years the consumer will be covered. The two most common types of vehicle warranties are bumper-to-bumper and powertrain. 

When you open documentation on your vehicle warranty and try to read it, you may be overwhelmed. Organizations like ours are here to help you understand what your warranty covers and how to enforce your warranty if the time comes. 

It is safe to say that all new cars will come with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, sometimes known as a “new car” warranty. As the name suggests, this warranty covers almost all the vehicle’s components if they suffer a defect. 

For example, if the brakes stop working or the windows of your car will not operate correctly, this warranty ensures that you do not have to pay for repairs. It is important to note this type of warranty does not cover routine maintenance, such as oil changes, normal wear and tear, or cosmetic damage, such as paint scratches. 

Due to its extensive coverage, the term for this warranty is shorter than other warranty terms. Coverage typically ranges from 3 years/36,000 miles to 6 years/60,000 miles. 

Unlike the bumper-to-bumper warranty, the powertrain warranty is more limited and covers the specific components of the vehicle that are fundamental to its operation, such as the engine and transmission. Just like the bumper-to-bumper warranty, this warranty does not cover routine maintenance and normal wear and tear. Although this warranty has more limited coverage, the duration tends to be longer. These warranties are typically valid from 6 years/60,000 miles to 10 years/100,000 miles. 

If you have a new car, or if you are wondering what type of warranty your car has, look for the warranty booklet or Owner’s Manual that you received when you purchased or leased the car. The first step is to understand the terms of your warranty, which is hopefully something you never have to think about again. However, if you are experiencing an issue with your vehicle that you think is covered, notify your manufacturer or an authorized dealership of the potential defect. Not every problem is going to be covered by your warranty but, if it is, your manufacturer will have the opportunity to fix the issue. This should be done at no cost to you. 

If the manufacturer or authorized dealership is unable to repair the problem, you might be eligible to open a claim with BBB AUTO LINE. Our team supports customers of some of the largest vehicle manufacturers to help settle vehicle warranty disputes between manufacturer and customer without the need for an attorney. If your manufacturer is one of our participating manufacturers, the program is free of charge for you. If you are unsure whether your claim is eligible, you can contact BBB AUTO LINE by filling out this form

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