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
- 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:
- Buying a Car: Is the Factory Warranty Transferable?
- Buying a Used Car: Should You Walk Away from an Extended Warranty?
- Certified Pre-Owned: Why Not Just Buy an Extended Warranty Instead?
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.