What Does Your Car’s Basic Warranty Cover?

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Your car’s basic warranty covers almost everything in your car, including all the mechanical components, your sound system, and electrical components. Typically, the coverage lasts between 3-5 years and up to 60,000 miles, although brands like Kia and Hyundai offer 10 years or 100,000 miles.

In the last 10 years, car warranties have improved tremendously. Hyundai and Kia releasing their 10 year / 100,000 mile warranty is just the cherry on top as new cars become more and more reliable.

If you are in the market for a new car, buying a brand that has a strong warranty behind it is well worth it. In theory, the longer the vehicle’s warranty lasts, the more reliable the car in question should be. As is such, you’ll want to know what is and isn’t included before you buy your next car.

In the early 2000s, the traditional new-car basic warranty was 3 years, 36,000 miles and then that was it. However, many companies now extend coverage for components of their vehicles for much longer than that. For instance, the engine, transmission, and other powertrain components generally are covered under a separate powertrain warranty, which lasts much longer than the standard basic warranty. For example, General Motors and Chrysler offer a 5 year / 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. If you are curious about your car’s powertrain warranty and the thousands of dollars it can save you on repairs, we did a full write-up on it which you can read here.

See related: What the heck is a powertrain warranty?

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper into what your basic warranty should cover, as well as what it won’t cover.

What Your Basic Warranty Covers

Your basic warranty (also known as your limited warranty, or factory warranty) promises to pay for repairs to your car if the cause of the repair was due to a defect in workmanship when the car is being driven normally and maintained correctly.

In other words, if you are taking care of your car according to the manufacturer’s specifications listed in your owner’s handbook and driving responsibly, you should be covered.

Rather than listing everything that is covered, it’s easier to list what isn’t covered under the basic warranty.

What Your Basic Warranty Usually Won’t Cover

Most basic warranties exclude “wear and tear” items such as oil & fluid changes, brake pads, tires, sparkplugs, and windshield wipers. However some luxury manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes are now sold with a maintenance package, which is basically a scheduled oil and fluid check/change along with a checklist to make sure your car is running smoothly.

Besides the scheduled maintenance, plus wear and tear parts, your basic warranty really does cover almost everything.

However, as we previously mentioned it only covers everything when you maintain your car on schedule and are not using your car outside of its recommended use.

If you don’t maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, or if you use your car outside of what it was designed for (whether that’s towing a heavier load than allowed, getting into an accident, or using the wrong quality of gas, for example) your warranty company may not pay for your repairs.

Other scenarios that typically are not covered:

  • An accident or collision, no matter who’s fault it is. 
  • Failing to meet maintenance obligations. Some manufacturers, such as Volvo, have scheduled service dates. Even if your manufacturer doesn’t, there’s almost always a maintenance schedule in your car’s handbook. Some factory warranties require you to adhere to this schedule in order to receive coverage. Check your specific policy for details.
  • Intentional misuse of your automobile. This extends to activities like racing, drifting, and offroading in a non-offroad car. 
  • Regular wear and tear. This is subject to the terms laid out in your warranty, but powertrain warranties usually do not cover general wear and tear items on your car. Refer to the table above for notable exclusions!
  • Environmental Causes. Your powertrain warranty isn’t going to cover your car getting flung into outer space by a tornado. 
  • Using the wrong fuel. If you destroy your engine with the wrong fuel grade through willful negligence, it’s unlikely that your powertrain warranty will cover the associated repairs.
  • Corrosion or Rust. Make sure you keep your car in a dry area where possible. If you live in an area with excessive snow and ice, have your undercarriage treated in order to minimize corrosion and rusting. 

What Your Powertrain Warranty Covers

The second, and most important, part of your warranty is the powertrain coverage. That’s because this part pays for engine and transmission repairs which could run to several thousand dollars.

It typically covers:

Your car’s powertrain warranty covers:

  1. The Engine
  2. The Transmission
  3. Front and Rear Wheel Drive Systems
  4. The Transfer Case (For 4WD/AWD)
  5. Internal Parts, Seals, Gaskets, etc

What The Powertrain Warranty Doesn’t Cover

The powertrain warranty covers your engine, transmission, and powertrain. These parts of each are not covered:

Engine ExclusionsTransmission ExclusionsTransfer Case ExclusionsDrive Systems Exclusions
Engine RadiatorTransmission Cooling LinesTransfer Case Cooling LinesWheel Bearings
Starter MotorHosesHosesFront & Rear Hub Drive Bearings
ConnectorsRadiatorRadiatorLocking Hubs
Oxygen SensorSensorsSensorsDrive System Cooling
Ignition Coils and Spark PlugsWiringWiringHoses
Mass Air Flow SensorElectrical ConnectorsElectrical ConnectorsLines
Coolant HosesClutch and Pressure PlateTransfer Case ControlRadiator
Coolant Heater CoreTransmission Control ModuleModule ProgrammingWiring
WiringModule Programming  Sensors
Pressurized fuel system  Electronics for the drive systems
Control Module  Drive Control
Module Programming  Drive Control Programming
Other sensors  Struts
   CV Joints

Just like with the basic warranty, if you don’t maintain your car correctly or use it correctly, your warranty will not pay for your repairs! The same exclusions apply.

Other Parts Typically Covered / Services Included

Federal law requires automobile manufacturers to provide an 8 year / 80,000-mile warranty on major defects in your emissions control system (which includes the catalytic converter). If your orange check engine light (or emissions light, in newer models) comes on, your emissions control problem is most likely covered under warranty.

For newer electric vehicles, you will also want to be on the lookout for hybrid battery coverage. Hybrid batteries and their supporting parts are pricey. For example, Hyundai covers their EV parts for 10 years or 100,000 miles while Chevy covers theirs for 8 years / 80,000 miles.

Roadside assistance is also a normal feature, which typically includes towing, gas, and lockout services. Some warranty providers will also pay for a rental car, as well as hotels and food if your car breaks down away from home.

Companies such as Hyundai also have anti-rust coverage, which is there in case a body panel rusts through. However, with today’s new cars, that doesn’t happen like it used to.

After You’ve Selected A Good Warranty, Do This

If we can give you one piece of advice, it’s to always read the warranty! You could (and should) apply this advice to any contract you plan to sign, and your car’s warranty is no exception. It’s best to know what is covered ahead of time, especially when you may be facing down a major repair. Knowing what is covered in the warranty will help you to ensure that your car gets fixed correctly without you paying an arm and a leg.

When Your Basic Warranty Runs Out, Extend It With A VSC

A vehicle service contract (or VSC) allows you to extend the great protection from your car’s warranty after it expires. A vehicle service contract from Protect My Car can extend your protection for up to 300,000 miles. Think about that, 300,000 miles of carefree driving as long as you do the normal maintenance.

If you want to learn more about our vehicle service plans, fill out the form below to learn if your vehicle is covered. You’ll save a boatload on car repairs, plus for a limited time we’re offering all first time members free oil changes, tire rotations, and over $150 of rewards cash a month just for signing up! Don’t wait and miss out on these great rewards.

About Protect My Car

Protect My Car is an extended auto warranty company. Our goal here at Protect My Car is to eliminate your worry of being financially responsible for an expensive mechanical breakdown. With our extended auto warranty, you don’t have to worry about being fully burdened with the cost of a covered repair.