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December 2020

The difference between a powertrain warranty and a comprehensive warranty

If you’ve ever purchased a brand-new vehicle, you might have noticed something a little weird about its warranty: there are more than one of them!

What is offered varies from brand to brand, and can include protection for some really specific things, such as emissions and corrosion. However, in the automobile industry there are two primary types of coverage that come with each vehicle: “comprehensive” and “powertrain” warranties. The name “bumper to bumper” has also frequently been used in place of comprehensive, but that is starting to change because it is a misleading title, as we’ll explain below.

So, what do these two main types of warranty cover and how do they differ from each other? Here’s what you need to know:

Comprehensive warranty

This is the highest level of coverage that automobile manufacturers offer, and it begins the very day that the car is first sold (which is also known as the first-in-service date).

What does it include? While the fine details change a little between brands and specific vehicles, generally speaking, this warranty is protection for the vast majority of a vehicle’s components, which numbers in the hundreds. These warranties are always set up with exclusionary wording. What does that mean? It means that if something isn’t specifically listed by the manufacturer as an exclusion, then they cover it if it breaks down.

Excluded components are primarily wearable parts that are expected to degrade over time (such as tires and spark plugs) and things that only break or become damaged due to user error or accident (such as glass and upholstery).

It is better to describe this coverage as “comprehensive” instead of “bumper to bumper” because there are always components between a car’s two bumpers that aren’t covered — and, funnily enough, the bumpers themselves are never covered either!

Powertrain warranty

After a vehicle’s comprehensive warranty expires, its powertrain warranty kicks in. A vehicle’s powertrain warranty is always longer than its comprehensive warranty.

What is included in a powertrain warranty? As the website AutoGuide describes:

In simple terms, a powertrain warranty covers the parts of a car that provide power and make it move. Typically that involves the engine, transmission and drivetrain.

Other possibly included components are transfer cases, differentials, and other internal workings of the engine. As you can see, powertrain warranties are quite limited. They don’t include electronics, heating and cooling systems, and a number of other components.

It is important to note that powertrain components are still covered when the factory comprehensive warranty is active. For example: if your vehicle has three years of comprehensive warranty and it suffers a transmission breakdown in the second year of ownership, you should still be covered.

What Obvi offers

Obvi is reinventing extended automobile warranties.

Brand-new vehicles are eligible for comprehensive extensions beyond what the manufacturer offers, and many other slightly older vehicles are as well.

Visit our quote page to receive a free quote for your vehicle or to get in touch with our licensed agents to answer any questions that you might have.