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New Car Warranties

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On: Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 3:13PM | By: Peter C Sessler

New Car Warranties

There's no question about it, cars are built better today than they were even ten years ago, and that includes the domestic manufacturers. The typical basic warranty today lasts for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, and covers practically everything. Some of the higher priced luxury cars come even with a longer warranty. Lincoln, Cadillac, Lexus, and Infiniti have a basic warranty that lasts four years or 50,000 miles. Lexus and Infiniti have additional powertrain coverage that last six years or 70,000 miles. Warranty coverage has been used a selling point by the car manufacturers. Hyundai has upped the ante by offering a five-year or 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranties on their cars. Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, and Ford have just a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

The factory warranties cover everything except wear items, such as brake pads, belts, wipers, etc. However, typically you'll find that these too are covered for the first year. All that is usually spelled out in the warranty manual that comes with the car.

You'll find that most foreign car manufacturers cover the drivetrain for two or more years than the basic warranty. Hyundai, as we have seen, extends the coverage to ten years, and so does Volkswagen. Volkswagen's basic warranty, however, is not as long, only three years or 36,000 miles.

Warranty repairs, as you'd expect, have to be done by an authorized dealer but it doesn't have to be the one that sold you the car. Routine maintenance such as oil changes and the like can be done by any other shop and it won't imperil the factory warranty. You can even do it yourself - just make sure to save receipts.

Besides these, there are corrosion warranties that cover outer body panel rust-through. These last five years or more, but they do not cover surface rust. There has to be a hole or "rust-through" before they'll either repair or replace the panel. These days, though, it's unlikely to happen because most manufacturers apply factory rust-proofing and use galvanized steel.

Another useful feature is roadside assistance. This is designed to replace AAA-type coverage. For example, if you run out of gas, need a jump start or break down, you just call an 800-number and someone will come to the rescue. Towing is usually included, but only if a covered part breaks, but with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, it typically is. However, keep in mind that the towing is usually to the nearest authorized dealer and not to your home dealer, and towing is not free if the car was in an accident.

There are also emissions warranties that cover emissions equipment. These are spelled out in the warranty booklet that comes with every new car. Some states, such as California, New York, and Massachusetts, have longer lasting provisions.

Finally, there are the so-called "secret warranties". If there is a serious enough problem or defect in a car, the government will issue a recall and all owners will be notified. Sometimes, though, when there is a defect but the government doesn't issue a recall, the manufacturers will fix the problem for free anyway. The problem here is that they won't take the trouble to let you know. It will get repaired only if you complain or your car has that particular defect. You can find out by calling the National High Traffic Safety Administration or check out their web site at http://www.nhtsa.gov/.


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