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Get smart about car warranties and service contracts

keys and a small car

Car shopping?

One important factor to consider is what each manufacturer’s warranty covers and how long the coverage lasts, as well as whether you’re going to purchase additional coverage through a vehicle service contract.

While these items can offer you peace of mind, sorting through them can be tricky. Before heading to a dealership, check out this quick look at four of the most common types of warranties and additional mechanical coverage offered on new and used vehicles.


The “basic” or “bumper-to-bumper” warranty is the most comprehensive factory warranty and covers all the original components and systems of a vehicle, excluding wear-and-tear items like tires, brake pads and wiper blades. One important area this type of warranty covers is the electrical systems.

Today, vehicles are packed with electronics and computers, and repairing these can get expensive. The bumper-to-bumper warranty on a new vehicle usually lasts for three years or 36,000 miles, with some brands extending coverage to four years and 50,000 miles or five years and 60,000 miles.


“Powertrain” or “Drivetrain” warranties generally cover the engine, transmission and other mechanical components, and are commonly featured in vehicle ads because of their long length of coverage.

Most new vehicle powertrain warranties last for five or six years, with some brands offering up to 10 years of coverage. For new hybrid electric powered vehicles, some manufacturers offer an additional warranty to cover components that are specific to these vehicles.


Intended to convey the quality of a vehicle, some manufacturers cover repairs for rust or premature deterioration of major sheet metal with something called a “corrosion and rust” or “body integrity” warranty. If you spend a lot of time along the coast or in areas where salt is used on the roads, this coverage can be a significant benefit. Most corrosion warranties cover the vehicle for five to seven years.

Vehicle Service Contracts

Unlike warranties provided by the manufacturer with a new car or truck, vehicle service contracts (VSCs) are purchased by the consumer from a dealership or third-party. VSC coverage can be tailored to fit a customer’s needs and budget, and can cover mechanical components, electronics and even luxury equipment like power seats or a navigation system.

A VSC like Ally Premier Protection covers up to 7,400 components in a vehicle and offers additional benefits including rental reimbursement, roadside assistance, towing and reimbursement for trip interruption caused by a breakdown.

Even if a vehicle is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, customers can still use these VSC benefits. With many consumers holding onto their vehicles longer, VSCs can extend the customer’s peace-of-mind beyond the end of a manufacturer’s warranty.

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