What’s the difference between a comprehensive and powertrain warranty? If you’ve ever bought a brand-new vehicle, you may have noticed something about the warranty coverage. There are a bunch of different warranties!
Manufacturer warranty coverage varies from brand to brand. It can include varied protection for specific parts like emissions, electronics, or corrosion. But, there are two important primary types of coverage that come with each vehicle. Those are the comprehensive and powertrain warranties. The name “bumper to bumper” is often used in place of comprehensive. That is starting to change now because it is a misleading title.
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:
This is the highest level of coverage that automobile manufacturers offer. 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? This warranty is protection for the vast majority of a vehicle’s components. It includes the electrical systems, suspension, brakes, steering, and heating and cooling.
These warranties are always set up with exclusionary wording. What does that mean? It means that if something isn’t listed by the manufacturer as an excluded item, it’s covered if it breaks down.
Excluded components are primarily wearable parts. These parts are expected to degrade over time (such as tires, brake pads, and spark plugs). Or, only break or become damaged due to an accident or user error (such as glass or body panels).
It is better to describe this coverage as “comprehensive” instead of “bumper to bumper”. That’s because there are always components between a car’s bumpers that aren’t covered. Or, fall under different warranty terms, like emission systems. The bumpers themselves are never covered either!
A powertrain warranty is a protection plan that covers the components that power the car. A vehicle’s powertrain coverage is almost always longer than its comprehensive coverage. Most manufacturers offer 5 years and 100,000 km or more.
What does a powertrain warranty include? It covers the parts of a car that provide power and make it move. That involves the engine, transmission, and drivetrain. Other included components are transfer cases, differentials, and internal workings of the engine. They can be some of the most expensive to repair, so it’s important to have them covered.
As you can see, powertrain warranties are quite limited. They don’t include electronics, heating and cooling systems, and many other components. Powertrain components are still covered when the factory comprehensive coverage is active.
Comprehensive and powertrain extensions
Deciding what extended warranty protection to get on your vehicle can be a challenge. Should you buy a powertrain-only warranty or something more robust?
Technology is revolutionizing vehicles which now have up to 30,000 components. Most parts prone to breakdowns aren’t included in powertrain extensions. That is usually by design.
An extended warranty needs to pay for unexpected repairs. The price-point of powertrain-only coverage can be attractive. But, you are more likely to experience a lot of repairs outside what this offers. The parts not included in powertrain coverage fail often. Such as steering, electrical, and suspension components. These can be costly repairs that affect a vehicle’s safe operation.
Many warranty providers have extensive complaints and bad reviews. It isn’t that they don’t want to pay claims, it’s because they have sold expensive policies with limited coverage.
New vehicles are eligible for comprehensive extensions, and many out-of-warranty vehicles are too.