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Powertrain Warranty vs. Bumper to Bumper: What is the Difference?

You’ll notice when car shopping that most new — or certified pre-owned — vehicles have two major types of warranties: a powertrain warranty and a bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. Because they cover so many components of your car, these two are the most important among the many types of warranties that might be available.

Continue reading to learn the difference between powertrain warranties and bumper-to-warranties.

What Does a Powertrain Warranty Cover?

Simply put, this is a warranty on components of the vehicle’s propulsion system, including the engine, transmission, and other related pieces such as the differential. Powertrain warranties typically cover repairs to just about anything involved in bringing power to the wheels, including a car’s driveshaft and constant velocity joints.

Not everything under the hood is covered by a powertrain warranty, however. Some parts are “wear items,” which means that wear is part of their design, and a warranty won’t pay for their replacement. Typical exclusions are the battery, clutch, and specific drive belts. Read more about warranty exceptions below.

The factory warranty for a car’s powertrain can last for up to 10 years, depending on the manufacturer.

What Does a Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty Cover?

A bumper-to-bumper limited warranty is sometimes called a comprehensive warranty. It covers nearly everything from the front bumper to the back bumper. Not the bumpers themselves, though, because body panels aren’t covered. Additional coverage beyond the powertrain warranty may include the vehicle’s electronics, audio system, air conditioning system, suspension components, and more.

Even though they’re known as “bumper to bumper,” these plans do have exceptions, and not every vehicle part is covered.

Bumper-to-bumper warranties cover far more parts than powertrain warranties and often don’t last as long. The typical duration of a new car factory warranty is three years or 36,000 miles.

What Isn’t Covered By Bumper-to-Bumper Warranties?

New vehicle limited warranties vary by the automaker. Refer to your paperwork for details on your car’s warranty coverage. Typically, powertrain warranties and bumper-to-bumper plans do not cover repairs to these items, misuse, or damage caused by specific situations:

  • Interior trim, seating fabric, and cabin surfaces
  • Side windows, windshield, and wipers
  • Tires and wheels
  • Brake pads
  • Fluids
  • Paint
  • Corrosion
  • Body panels and damage from collision

What is the Difference between Powertrain and Bumper-to-Bumper?

As the name suggests, powertrain warranties cover only the vehicle’s powertrain, which is usually a car’s most significant and most expensive component. Meanwhile, the bumper-to-bumper warranty covers everything — the powertrain, the electronics, the suspension, vehicle systems, and more.

As a result, a bumper-to-bumper warranty may benefit you most, and it doesn’t cost anything when you purchase your new car. You might even consider buying an extended warranty. But if your bumper-to-bumper warranty expires (or your certified pre-owned program only offers powertrain protection), you can rest assured knowing your car’s most expensive systems are protected by the longer powertrain warranty.

Always check the fine print of your warranty to avoid any unexpected out-of-pocket costs before you take your car for service.

Related Warranty Articles:

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.


What is a powertrain warranty?

A powertrain warranty is a protection plan covering specific parts of your vehicle. It is a promise from the automaker that it will repair or fix an issue if powertrain components malfunction under particular circumstances.

What is covered in a powertrain warranty?

A powertrain warranty typically covers a car’s engine, transmission, driveshaft, differential, and other parts that make the vehicle move.

What’s the difference between comprehensive insurance and bumper-to-bumper insurance?

A comprehensive car insurance policy is not the same as a comprehensive warranty or bumper-to-bumper car warranty. This type of warranty usually comes with the purchase of a new car and covers most components of the vehicle for a limited time.

Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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