2013 Vehicle Warranties

These days in this economy, people are keeping their vehicles much longer than ever before. According to Polk, the average age of U.S. vehicles rose to 10.8 years in June of 2011. In 19995 it was 8.4 years. Companies like Hyundai and Kia have spurred sales by reassuring customers with longer than average warranties.
Car Chat is going to help you wade through the warranty issue, to help you choose a new car.
As with anything involving legal issues and long-term investments, read all the literature first-hand. Full warranty documents are available for download at most manufacturer websites or you can read them at a dealership.

Common Terms

First, some common terms.
Warranty: It is a contract with the buyer of a new vehicle that the manufacturer will repair your vehicle if it breaks. Note that it is a contract with the buyer, not the present owner. Warranty transferability is important to look into if you may be reselling the car or giving it to a relative or friend before the warranty expires.
Powertrain Warranty: These are the important mechanical parts that keep the vehicle running. This differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, but never expect the air conditioner to be covered. Generally, if it is cased in the engine or transmission and is lubricated it is covered. Also, axles and differentials are covered. Engine computer not covered. Water pump covered. An alternator will usually not be covered under powertrain coverage, but sometimes is. Important: If your vehicle has a timing belt (instead of a chain or gear) and it is listed in the maintenance schedule for periodic replacement, it is not covered, and any damaged caused by its failure is not covered! The only exception to this would be a premature failure.
Basic Warranty: This is also called bumper-to-bumper coverage. It will not include any wearable item, except under certain circumstances: wiper blades, clutch, brake pads. Otherwise it should cover anything from a broken door handle to a burned out turn-signal bulb.
Corrosion Warranty: Also know as a corrosion perforation warranty, or anti-perforation warranty. This does not warrant against rust or paint defects; that is only covered by the terms of the basic warranty (and sometimes not even that entire period). The corrosion warranty covers for rust-through. Only if the rust develops a hole through the metal of the car will it be covered by the corrosion warranty. Also, damage from accidents, fall-out or abuse which cause rust are also not covered. Many corrosion warranties only cover rust-through on outer body (visible) panels.
Deductible: This is the part you pay on a repair. The rest is covered. Presently, no new-vehicle warranty included by a manufacturer has a deductible. Service contracts generally do. They usually cover all repairs covered that are done on one visit. (example: broken power window, $100 deductible, all the rest covered; broken transmission, power window, power seat, $100 deductible, all the rest covered.)
Service Contract: Also called an “Extended Warranty.” This is an extra-charge extension to the warranty that the manufacturer gives. The most important thing to know is: who is issuing the service contract? The best possible service contract issuer is the manufacturer or his captive finance and insurance arm (i.e. GM Protection Plan). These offer protection that is guaranteed on many different levels and the manufacturer can offer it at the best savings since they will contract the dealership at a reduced labor rate and supply the parts directly. Remember, a Service Contract is not a warranty; it is an insurance policy. Most often the ones who could benefit most from having the policy do not buy it, and the ones that tend not to benefit do. If you do not plan to own the vehicle past the expiration of the basic warranty, you should not purchase it. Promises that it will enhance resale value are generally not true, and certainly not true to the extent of the extra cost you incur. If you plan to keep the vehicle for a long time, the added protection can be well worth it. Before buying a service contract that is not from the manufacturer, check with the FTC.
Transferability: If you plan to sell or give your vehicle to someone else during the warranty period, check the transferability. Some warranties do not transfer to a second owner. Some do not transfer to a third owner. Some service contracts transfer for a fee. Example: If you purchase a service contract on you GM vehicle when new, and you sell it before the policy expires, it can be transferred to the new owner for a small fee, possibly allowing you to more easily sell it. Kia and Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty is not transferable. Second and subsequent owners are only covered by the basic warranty.
Emission Control Warranty: Parts of the car which control air pollution have separate warranties mandated by federal and/or state law. These can cover things such as catalytic converters, all the way to engine computers. The emission control warranty differs from state-to-state and is complex. If your vehicle fails an emissions test during the period (from 8 years/80,000 miles up to 15 years 150,000 miles for some vehicles in California emission states) check to see if the part is covered before paying for a repair.
Accessories Warranty: If you purchase accessories specifically made by the manufacturer of your vehicle and they are installed by the dealership, they will have a separate warranty. If you do this at the time you purchase the vehicle new, however, the accessories will generally be covered under the terms of the Basic Warranty. Check with the dealer or manufacturer.
Adjustments Warranty: Especially when the basic warranty period is long, some manufacturers exclude such things as adjusting poorly fitting trim, front-end alignment, etc. These will then be covered by a shorter “adjustments period,” usually 12 months or 12,000 miles.

Maintenance Plan

Many manufacturers offer to cover all maintenance during a set period free or for a reduced one-time fee. Be sure to differentiate between a plan offered by the manufacturer and one offered by the dealership. The manufacturer plan will be valid throughout the United States if you move or travel. The dealer’s generally will not.
These plans are usually not transferable to another owner.
Some manufacturers that have a no-cost maintenance plan include:
  • Audi (1 year or 5000 miles; first visit, only.)
  • Bentley (3 years, 36,000 miles)
  • BMW (4 years, 50,000 miles)
  • Cadillac (4 years, 50,000 miles)
  • Ferrari (7 years, unlimited miles)
  • MINI (3 years, 36,000 miles)
  • Rolls Royce (4 years, unlimited miles)
  • Toyota (2 years oor 25,000 miles)
  • Volkswagen (3 years, 36,000 miles)
  • Volvo (5 years, 50,000 miles)
Beware! These plans are more volatile than standard warranty coverages and change quickly. Fiat had a 3-year/36,000-mile free maintenance plan for 2012. It is not included for 2013. Get the coverage in writing before making a decision based on any warranty or maintenance plan offered.

Exceptions

Usually listed in warranty booklets as “What is Not Covered,” this can vary by manufacturer. Below are some of the general rules.
  • Commercial Use. Make your car a cop car or taxi… no warranty.
  • Racing, speed competitions. (Come on, you knew that.) Generally this means that damage caused during racing is not covered. However, some manufacturers such as Mitsubishi have been known to see images of their vehicles racing on the internet and invalidate the warranty in whole.
  • Damage caused by unauthorized modifications. Strapping a 18 PSI blower to your Toyota Echo and blowing the engine to smithereens will not be covered.
  • Damage caused by accidents. Run over a sewer pipe in the road and all the oil runs out of the engine: not covered.
  • Damage caused by improper maintenance. Every warranty booklet will tell you to save your maintenance records. If you never change the oil and your engine blows: not covered. BTW: Federal law prohibits a manufacturer from requiring you to return to the dealership for maintenance. You should be careful about choosing a reputable, insured shop, though. If the manufacturer claims the maintenance was not done properly, your shop may have to prove otherwise or possibly pick up the cost of the repair.
  • Wear-and-tear items, such as : wiper blades, clutch plate, brake pads, timing belt, etc.
  • Battery. It is usually covered under a separate warranty, by time alone not mileage. Varies by manufacturer, and is sometimes prorated.
  • Tires. Also covered by their manufacturer directly and usually prorated by mileage. Will not be covered for “road hazard” unless as part of a separate service contract or dealer coverage.

Coverage Periods by Make

Acura

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
6-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty


Audi

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
12-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty


Bentley

3-year/No distance limit Basic limited Warranty
3-year/No distance limit Powertrain Limited Warranty
3-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

BMW 

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
12-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Buick 

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
6-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
6-year/100,000-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Cadillac 

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
6-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Chevrolet 

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
3-year/36,000-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Chrysler 

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Dodge

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Fiat 

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/100,00-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Ford 

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

GMC

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty 
6-year/100,000-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Honda

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Hyundai 

5-year/60,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
7-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Infiniti 

4-year/60,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
6-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
7-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Jaguar

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Jeep 

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Kia

5-year/60,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/100,00-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Land Rover 

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
6-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Lexus

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
6-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
6-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Lincoln

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
6-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Mazda 

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
8-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Mercedes-Benz

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Mini

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
12-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Mitsubishi 

5-year/60,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
7-year/100,00-mile Corrosion Limited Warranty

Nissan

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Porsche 

4-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
12-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty


Ram

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty


Rolls Royce

4-year/No distance limit Basic limited Warranty
4-year/No distance limit Powertrain Limited Warranty
4-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty


Scion

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Subaru

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Suzuki*

American Suzuki Motor Corporation has filed for bankruptcy. They no longer intend to sell cars or light trucks in the United States. According to the parent company, their warranties will be honored. Suzuki will continue to sell motorcycles, ATVs and marine engines in the U.S. 
3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
7-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Toyota 

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Volkswagen 

3-year/36,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
12-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Volvo*

The standard printed Volvo warranty is 4 years, 50,000 miles; however, the included Safe + Secure Plan extends coverage to 5 years and includes coverage on all maintenance and wear items.
5-year/50,000-mile Basic limited Warranty
5-year/50,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
12-year/No distance limit Corrosion Limited Warranty

Last Words

Some sources rank manufacturer warranties. We won’t do that. With the facts, you can determine what will be best for you, but the warranty is only a small piece of the puzzle. A great warranty on a car you hate will be worthless. And a car that never breaks doesn’t need such a great warranty.
I just stress again, that those who turn down the service contract (younger people, people for whom money is tight, etc.) need it much more often than those who generally buy it (older people, more conservative drivers). If you buy it, get the service contract that the manufacturer sells. If a dealership will not sell it to you (because they want to sell their own or a third-party contract) you can get it directly from the manufacturer, often it can be financed separately, too, allowing you to make payments.
When your car breaks, always check with the dealer first. Many people do not realize how long their different warranties run and what they cover. A cracked exhaust manifold could be covered for 150,000 miles under certain circumstances.
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