For used car shoppers, the promise of a warranty will bring them peace of mind because it can offset unexpected and sudden repair costs. But do you know exactly what type of warranty you’re getting? The language surrounding car warranties can often be complex and confusing. Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about powertrain warranties to help you decide if purchasing one is right for you or not.
What is a Powertrain and Why is it Important?
In short, “powertrain” is a word that refers to a vehicle’s axles, differentials, driveshafts, drivetrain, engine, transfer case (all wheels and four-wheel drives), and transmission. These components are integral to making a car move.
For a car to run, its engine creates power, which is then transmitted to the transmission. The transmission then transfers that power to different gear ratios, transmitting it as torque. Through the driveshaft in the transmission, the engine’s energy is sent to the wheels, which in turn moves the car.
If any of the powertrain parts are neglected or experience malfunctioning, it can vastly affect the performance of other car components and even leave you stranded on the side of the road.
What is a Powertrain Warranty and What Does It Cover?
Powertrain warranties are offered by the manufacturer and/or seller to repair any issues with the powertrain if it does not perform correctly. These include:
- The Engine: Your vehicle’s engine and all of its parts will be covered in a powertrain warranty. This includes the timing belt, gears, crankshaft, oil pump, and pistons.
- The Transmission: Your car or truck’s transmission will be protected under standard powertrain warranties. However, you should learn about the details of your contract. Typically, all of the internal parts such as the torque and mounts will be protected. But most powertrain warranties will not cover cables and electrical parts.
- Front and Rear Wheel Drive: Your axle shafts will be covered by a standard powertrain warranty, in addition to many of the axle housing and internal components.
In addition to covering all of the vehicle’s components that connect its power to the wheels, some powertrain warranties may also cover:
- The wheel hubs and bearings
- The intake manifolds and exhaust
- And other parts
If you’re still unsure if a specific component is covered by a powertrain warranty, simply ask yourself, “Does this make my car run forward or backward?” If you answered “yes,” then the part is most likely covered by the warranty.
What’s Not Included in a Powertrain Warranty
Any part of your car that does not directly impact its power will not be covered by a powertrain warranty, including windows, the radio, AC units, and add-on features. Moreover, a powertrain warranty will not cover typical auto wear and tear that should be routinely serviced. Components such as clutches, brake pads, boots, and CV joints could be considered to be part of a vehicle’s powertrain, but since you should have them regularly serviced, they typically are not covered by a powertrain warranty. This also applies to engine, transmission, and drivetrain maintenance. You’re on the hook for regular engine tune-ups and oil changes.
You should also be aware that a powertrain warranty will not cover any damage that is associated with accidents, theft or vandalism and other damage that would normally be covered by insurance.
It is also important to know that powertrain warranties will only defects that arise out of faulty design, materials, or workmanship. It will not cover defects caused by daily wear and tear.
How Long Does a Warranty Last?
Like most car warranties, powertrain coverage is limited to mileage or time, whichever comes first. However, powertrain warranties do last longer than other types of warranties, such as bumper-to-bumper coverage. This is because a vehicle’s powertrain is more expensive to replace and service than the suspension or aesthetic components of a car or truck.
Most auto manufacturers offer powertrain warranties that last up to five years or 60,000 miles. Some other brands, including Kia and Hyundai, offer extended powertrain warranties that last up to 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Can You Transfer a Powertrain Warranty from Car to Car?
Some automakers base their powertrain coverage on VIN’s (vehicle identification numbers) and will consider these warranties valid regardless if a different person owns the vehicle. In many instances, if you purchase a pre-owned vehicle that is still under warranty, the powertrain coverage will remain valid until the specified mileage or time deadline has passed. This will all depend on the auto manufacturer and model that you purchase, so always check if the warranty is able to be transferred.
Powertrain Warranty vs. Bumper-to-Bumper Coverage
There are many types of specialty warranty plans available on the market, but many folks often get confused between powertrain and bumper-to-bumper warranties. These seem to have the most similarities. Despite this, there are a few huge differences between the two, including:
- A powertrain will last longer but cover fewer components on your vehicle.
- Bumper-to-bumper coverage is a lot more robust and usually covers electronics and other systems that a powertrain warranty doesn’t.
- Bumper-to-bumper coverage lasts up to three years or 36,000 miles, while powertrain warranties last up to five years or 60,000 miles.
Powertrain Warranty vs. Drivetrain Warranties
- The torque converter
- Propeller shaft
An Example of a Powertrain Warranty
- Engine: The cylinder block head and all internal parts are covered, as well as the timing gears and gaskets, timing chain and cover, valve covers, engine mounts, oil pump, and more.
- Transmission: The case and all internal parts are covered, as well as the transmission mounts, transfer case, torque converter, engine control computer, seals, and gaskets.
- Rear Wheel Drive Train System: The axle housing and all internal parts are covered, as well as the propeller shafts, axle shafts, drive shafts, bearings, supports, seals, and gaskets.
Why You Should Get a Powertrain Warranty
You may want to consider purchasing a powertrain warranty from a dealership or a third-party company if your vehicle isn’t already covered or if that coverage has expired. If you think that you are going to be driving your vehicle for a long time, opting to buy a powertrain warranty would be a good idea because it will save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs.
Some of the best companies to purchase a powertrain warranty from include:
- CARCHEX: This company is considered to be the gold standard of extended warranty providers and has endorsements from trusted brands such as Kelley Blue Book and Carfax.
- Endurance: This company is a direct provider, so you will never have to deal with a middleman. This is convenient because your claims experience will go quicker and run smoother.
- CarShield: This powertrain provider is by far the most popular and features low deductibles. They also save you time and hassle by paying claims directly to the service and repair shop.
Read the Fine Print
Always be sure to read all of the fine print before you sign a powertrain warranty. A powertrain warranty is a contract between you and the automaker. Like all binding legal agreements, there will be a lot of “ifs” and “buts” contained in the fine print that limit the manufacturer’s liability. Sadly, this small print can take away from implied promises found in larger advertisements.
If you are thinking about purchasing an older car or driving the one that you currently own for years to come, you should consider buying a powertrain warranty. A powertrain warranty is different from bumper-to-bumper coverage and a drivetrain warranty in that it lasts longer and covers much more than just the drivetrain parts. While a powertrain will not cover the basic wear-and-tear of components and routine maintenance, it will end up saving you thousands of dollars if your powertrain stops functioning due to bad workmanship, materials, or design. Powertrains typically last three years or 36,000 miles and can be transferred from car to car if the warranty has not expired. Lastly, always be sure to read the fine print before you sign a powertrain warranty.