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Certified Pre-Owned Electric Vehicles: What Does the Warranty Cover?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2014

As more electric vehicles start to reach the 2- and 3-year-old mark, a larger number of them are coming up for sale with certified pre-owned (CPO) warranties, which is essentially a manufacturer warranty that offers you extra coverage after the car's original factory warranty expires. If you buy an electric vehicle with a CPO warranty, you might be wondering exactly what is covered, since an electric vehicle doesn't exactly have the same powertrain as a normal, gas-powered vehicle. Does it cover the electric motor? The entire powertrain? The battery? We took a closer look to find out.

What's Covered?

To find out exactly what's covered under an electric car's certified pre-owned warranty, we checked out CPO plans from several major electric vehicle automakers. The biggest, of course, is Nissan, which added the Leaf to its CPO program last fall.

According to Nissan, the Leaf's certified pre-owned warranty extends the standard powertrain warranty from 5 years or 60,000 miles to 7 years or 100,000 miles. That warranty covers the electric motor and all associated components, but not the battery. Instead, CPO Leaf models have the same battery warranty as a brand-new Leaf; it lasts for 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Volt offers the same certified pre-owned warranty as any other CPO Chevrolet. That means you get a 1-year or 12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the original date of service. Like the Leaf, certified pre-owned Volt models retain their original battery warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.

As for Tesla, a high-end electric vehicle manufacturer, there isn't a certified pre-owned warranty available yet for the upscale Model S. It's just too new. The brand has announced plans to offer one, which will likely mirror the program in place for the Tesla Roadster. That program offers 3 years or 37,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage. Meanwhile, the Model S boasts an 8-year battery warranty with no mileage limit.

What's Not Covered?

For shoppers interested in finding out exactly what's not covered in an electric vehicle's CPO program, the answer is: not much. Generally speaking, electric vehicles offer roughly the same coverage as traditional models do, which is to say that wear items, including brakes or tires, aren't covered, while just about everything else is. While an EV's pricey battery doesn't fall under a CPO program's "powertrain" coverage, all certified pre-owned electric vehicles still include their impressive battery warranty, which typically lasts for nearly a decade or 100,000 miles of driving.

In other words, as electric vehicles age, their available certified pre-owned warranties will offer continued peace-of-mind to drivers who buy used rather than new.

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.
Certified Pre-Owned Electric Vehicles: What Does the Warranty Cover? - Autotrader