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Buying a Car: Is the Factory Warranty Transferable?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2014

If you're interested in selling or buying a car, you might be thinking about the car's warranty. If you're a buyer, you might be wondering if a used car's warranty will transfer to you or if it's only valid for the original owner. And if you're a seller, you might be curious whether you can advertise your car for sale with the remaining factory warranty -- which could help you get a little more money. How does it work? Does the warranty transfer to a new buyer? We'll explain.

The Warranty Usually Transfers

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. In other words, if you buy a car and sell it to a new owner, the warranty will still remain valid for the new owner until the end of the original warranty period.

As a result, buying a used car with the remaining factory warranty should mean that you're covered under the same warranty as the old owner was. There's one important catch, however: The warranty is based on the purchase date and not the model year. If you buy a 2012 car with a 3-year warranty in 2014, there's a chance that the warranty may already have expired because the original owner purchased the car in 2011.

If holding on to the remaining factory warranty is important to you, we suggest that you call a dealership and provide the service department with the VIN so you can find out exactly how much warranty is left.

Exceptions: Hyundai and Kia

Although Hyundai and Kia are well known for offering the best powertrain warranties in the industry -- 10 years or 100,000 miles -- these legendary warranties aren't transferable to a new owner. Fortunately, the warranty doesn't become completely invalid when a new owner buys the car; it just changes to 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

The change is an important one for used-car shoppers to know; many drivers interested in a reliable car will likely choose a Hyundai or Kia based solely on the excellent warranty coverage. Unfortunately, the bulk of that excellent coverage is only available to the first owner.

Certified Pre-owned?

In most cases, we've found that manufacturer certified pre-owned warranties transfer to a second owner. If you buy a car with a certified pre-owned warranty and resell it, the person who buys it will be covered with the warranty that you originally received.

Some certified pre-owned warranties (Mercedes-Benz warranties, for example) make one important exception, though: They're only transferable in a private sale. In other words, if you trade in your certified pre-owned car to a dealership, the warranty is no longer valid. For the warranty to stay valid, you have to sell it privately to a new owner.

Verify First

Although we've checked each manufacturer's warranty terms, we strongly suggest that you call a local dealership and provide them with the VIN to verify that the warranty is still valid before you sign any papers. After all, automakers often change policies. If you're interested in buying a car with warranty coverage, you won't want to leave it to chance.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Buying a Car: Is the Factory Warranty Transferable? - Autotrader