Many new cars come with a drivetrain warranty as a layer of protection on the vehicle’s working components. That sounds like a good thing, but what is it and when does it actually apply? Manufacturer warranties like this cover various components of new cars. They differ, though, from one company to the next. You’ll need to read through your warranty for specific coverage.
A powertrain warranty generally provides coverage to the transmission, engine, and other main operational components of the vehicle. If you have a drivetrain warranty, that typically means your vehicle has specific coverage (often longer or more comprehensive than a standard warranty) to protect these working components of the car. The term “drivetrain” refers to the working parts of the vehicle that get power to the wheels.
Key Components of a Drivetrain Warranty
Most of the time, a drivetrain warranty will cover:
- The engine
- The transmission
- Axle shifts
- All-wheel drive transfer case
- Wheel bearings
- CV joints and much more
Again, the details of your policy are essential. Some vehicle warranties have specific exclusions for various key features.
Some components of the vehicle don’t fall under drivetrain warranty covers. The starter is often lacking coverage, for example. That’s because it’s not considered a specific drivetrain component. Its job is to get gas to the engine, but most manufacturers place its coverage under electrical components in your factory warranty or extended warranty (both of which are different from your drivetrain warranty). However, most manufacturers cover it in some way.
Another common area of confusion is in sensors. Many of today’s modern vehicles are full of sensors. These control the “brain” of the computer. Some sensors are located in the drivetrain and powertrain, performing various functions to control the speed and power of the car. Most of the time, these sensors fall under your electrical or new vehicle warranty. Most do not fall under the traditional drivetrain warranty because they are not “powering” the vehicle themselves.
Your vehicle’s suspension system is another potential concern. Generally, the suspension system is covered under your new vehicle warranty in some way. The shock absorbers, which are the most common component to wear down, are not likely covered under your drivetrain warranty, though. These components are considered wear-and-tear parts. That means they are known to wear down over time – like the brakes or engine filters. Warranties generally do not cover those components as a result. Most warranties don’t cover any wear-and-tear parts.
Special Vehicles and Drivetrain Warranties
For those with an electric or hybrid vehicle, you’ll notice a lot of differences in your warranties. Powertrain and drivetrain warranties get more sophisticated in these vehicles. They also differ more frequently among manufacturers.
Most electric vehicles do not have transmissions. That’s because they have high torque at all speeds, which minimizes the need for switching gears as you would in a traditional gas-powered engine. For hybrid vehicles that have a gas-powered engine as well as an electric component, the powertrain warranty will include the gas engine itself as well as the transaxle (a transmission) and the electric motor and generator – be sure to verify your warranty covers this. If you’re buying a hybrid or electric car, have the drivetrain warranty explained in full as it’s a critical component.
Which Warranty Matters to You?
As you’ve seen, there are several types of warranties available on vehicles today. Each one does something different. Understanding the language of each is critical to ensure you’re protecting the vehicle long term. You should also understand the warranty long before you purchase it.
A bumper-to-bumper warranty is one of the most commonly used warranty phrases in vehicle marketing. This generally covers most components of the car with some limitations. If your vehicle has this type of warranty, it means the vehicle’s components typically are covered unless they are specifically named as excluded. A bumper-to-bumper warranty is also commonly called a new vehicle limited warranty.
Some companies incorporate a drivetrain warranty as a separate component of this coverage. If so, this extends the coverage of the engine and transmission beyond what the bumper-to-bumper warranty covers. That’s a good thing because the engine is the heart and soul of the car, and the most expensive component to repair. You want a long-term warranty on it.
In addition to this, some companies also offer extended warranties. This is a very generic term and doesn’t provide enough detail about what’s covered on its own. Look for what specifically is extended. Multi-tiered coverage choices are available in extended warranties. For example, some cover the engine. Others cover the electrical system. You’ll need to read through this warranty’s details to understand all it includes.
What Does Your Drivetrain Warranty Do for You Then?
If you have a drivetrain warranty and start having trouble with your vehicle, you may have the coverage you need to get repairs. There are a few things to remember:
- Most drivetrain warranties apply for a specific amount of time or a particular number of miles. It’s worth bringing your vehicle in for an inspection before this warranty runs out!
- Extended warranties can be tricky. Be sure you know when they apply and for how long after your manufacturer’s standard warranty.
- Some companies require you to use a particular repair shop, or they may have precise requirements for verifying warranty coverage. Always trust a car repair shop that knows what these rules are.
If you are unsure if your vehicle’s warranty covers the car’s problem, the car repair shop can investigate that further for you. You don’t have to spend time on the phone trying to navigate this on your own!
Finally, make sure you take advantage of all of the warranty benefits. This may include rental car reimbursement and towing if you need to pay to have your car brought into the shop.
Related: Buying a New Car vs Buying Used Car
Find a trusted car repair shop, like our professionals at Borst Automotive, to help you to navigate these warranties. They are not easy to understand (and sometimes that is the point), but they are one of the best ways to minimize costs associated with some of the most extensive and most expensive components on your vehicle. Take full advantage of the features they offer to protect your investment.