A car warranty is a big part of the appeal of buying new or certified used (sometimes called certified pre-owned or CPO). After all, knowing you’re off the hook for any major mechanical repairs during that initial period of ownership provides peace of mind. Still, there’s a lot of disinformation floating around about what is and isn’t covered by a standard warranty, as well as what might cause that warranty to become void. Let’s clear the air with this look at three myths associated with vehicle warranties.
Warranty Myth #1 — You Can’t Perform Your Own Maintenance
There are two major caveats here, however. The first is that you must follow the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions regarding maintenance to the letter, or you risk having future warranty claims denied. This means using the exact same type of oil specified in the manual at exactly the stated intervals, for example. It also means you must be able to prove that the work was both done and done properly. Your car’s maintenance history must be backed up by a receipt for the oil purchase, a logbook that you’ve kept yourself, or receipts from the shop that did the work.
Warranty Myth #2 — Everything is Covered
A car warranty, even one promoted as “bumper to bumper” — isn’t going to cover every potential issue that could crop up with your vehicle.
Common wear items such as light bulbs, air filters, brake pads, and wiper blades are typically left out, as they’re considered consumables, which will require regular replacement over the life of your vehicle. Some dealerships may offer a free maintenance package that will take care of these types of items for a specific period of time, but that’s usually separate from the warranty. The best thing to do is read every line of your warranty paperwork and see exactly what is covered.
It’s also important to realize that your car comes with different warranties that cover specific areas of the vehicle and last for different lengths of time. Your vehicle’s bumper-to-bumper warranty might last 36,000 miles, but the drivetrain warranty — which exclusively covers the engine and transmission — may extend all the way to 100,000 miles. Then there is the Federal Emissions Warranty which covers a new vehicle’s emissions related components. If your car fails an emissions test before if reaches either 24,000 miles or two years of age, the manufacturer has to warranty the repair.
Then there’s the anti-corrosion, or perforation, warranty, which may cover serious rust but most likely won’t handle blemishes or surface rust, especially if it occurs on the upper portions of your vehicle. If you’re buying used, you may even be looking at a combination of the remaining original new-car warranty and the used warranty that overlaps or follows it. Make sure you stay on top of how long each warranty is in effect before considering making a claim.
If you know your warranty rights and fulfill your warranty obligations, you’ll get the most out of these consumer protections that come with your brand-new or certified-used vehicle.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on your new car warranty, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.