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Buying a Car: Is the Factory Warranty Transferable?


When buying or selling a car, several warranty questions come to mind, but none more often than, is a factory warranty transferable? It’s a legitimate question regardless of which side of the transaction you are on: buyer or seller. As a buyer, you might wonder if that late-model used car you are shopping for has an active warranty that will transfer to you. On the other hand, as a seller, you might want to use that active warranty to help sell your car if it is transferable.

The devil is always in the details. However, to the question, does the factory new car warranty that comes with every new car transfer to the next owner? There’s good news. Generally, the answer is yes.

What Is a Factory New Car Warranty?

New car warranties take more than one form. In fact, some carmakers provide as many as four factory warranties. The two we hear about most are the “limited bumper-to-bumper” warranty and the “powertrain” warranty. Some carmakers also issue a corrosion warranty and a roadside-assistance warranty.

Issued by the factory, the limited and powertrain warranties cover the cost of repairing a specified list of components and systems. However, the repairs must take place in a factory-approved service center. The warranty coverage is for a fixed period stated as a number of years or miles, whichever comes first. For example, Hyundai’s limited warranty is for 5 years/60,000 miles. Its powertrain warranty is for 10 years/100,000 miles.

Do Warranties Transfer to New Owners?

In nearly every case, factory new car warranties are tied to the vehicle identification number (VIN). Therefore, the new car warranty will be valid for the entire warranty term regardless of ownership. In other words, the warranty is connected to that specific vehicle and not the owner. What if you buy a new car and later sell it to someone else? That warranty remains valid for the new owner until the end of the original warranty period.

Consequently, buying a used car with the remaining factory warranty means it’s covered for whatever portion of the warranty remains. For example, if you buy a used 2021 Hyundai with 20,000 miles on the odometer, the limited warranty will cover another three years or 40,000 miles, whichever comes first.

However, there’s one important catch: The warranty begins on the in-service date and not the model year. If you buy a 2023 model-year car with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty in November of 2022, the clock begins ticking the minute you take possession. No matter the mileage, that warranty expires in November of 2025. In other words, it expires three years from the date you bought the new car. Likewise, if the car dealership puts a new vehicle into service as a demo or a loaner, the warranty clock begins on the day it happens.

If having the coverage of the remaining factory warranty is important to you, we suggest you call a dealership and provide the service department with the VIN. That way, you can determine exactly how much warranty remains.

Warranty Transfer Exceptions

For years, we’ve praised Hyundai and Kia for offering the best powertrain warranties in the industry: 10 years or 100,000 miles. However, most consumers don’t understand that these legendary powertrain warranties are exceptions to the yes-you-can-transfer-warranties rule. Mitsubishi provides the same powertrain coverage, which is also an exception. When a Kia, Hyundai, or Mitsubishi model changes owners, the powertrain coverage drops to 5 years or 60,000 miles. Again, both years and miles begin with the date the vehicle was purchased new.

The change is an important one for used car shoppers who would buy a Hyundai, Kia, or Mitsubishi on the strength of that very long powertrain warranty. Sadly, the bulk of that excellent coverage is only available to the initial owner. However, there are some exceptions for certified pre-owned buyers. Customers who buy a certified Hyundai will get the full coverage, and certified pre-owned Kia buyers get the full powertrain warranty but not the full bumper-to-bumper limited warranty.

Can You Transfer a CPO Warranty?

When a carmaker includes a used car in its certified pre-owned (CPO) program, it adds a CPO warranty as a benefit. The CPO warranty is much like a new car warranty. That is, it’s split into a limited bumper-to-bumper warranty and a limited powertrain warranty. Each is factory-backed. In other words, when performed in an approved service center, the factory will cover the cost of repairs on its list of specified components and systems.

Usually, the CPO limited bumper-to-bumper warranty is for one to two years with a mileage cap of 12,000 to 24,000 miles. A few CPO warranties, like those from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz, don’t have a mileage cap. If any of the original new-car factory warranty remains, the CPO warranty almost always kicks in when the new-car warranty expires. Otherwise, it’s effective from the date you purchase the CPO vehicle.

When selling a car you first purchased as a certified pre-owned vehicle (CPO), the CPO warranty rules are similar to the factory new car warranty. In most cases, we’ve found that manufacturer CPO warranties transfer to a second owner. If you buy a car with a CPO warranty and resell it, any balance remaining of the CPO warranty still covers the car under new ownership.

How Much Does Transferring a CPO Warranty Cost?

A few carmakers charge a fee of up to $100 to transfer the CPO warranty. (A BMW CPO warranty transfer will set you back $200.) However, the process is not automatic. If you buy a used car with time or miles left on the CPO warranty, we recommend contacting the automaker to be sure it transfers to you.

However, some CPO warranties make one important exception: They only transfer from one private individual to another. In other words, if you trade in your CPO car to a dealership, the CPO warranty is no longer valid. For the warranty to stay valid, you must sell it privately to a new owner.

Can You Transfer an Extended Warranty?

Although we are covering factory-backed warranties here, it’s worth a few sentences to provide a little information on extended warranties. An extended warranty is one that you would buy in addition to any factory warranties that come with every new or CPO car. It picks up when your factory warranty expires.

Most dealerships sell some type of extended warranty, but the warranty company is in no way related to the carmaker. It’s a third-party vendor. This distinction is true of the extended warranty coverage you will find online, as well.

As for transferring an extended warranty when you sell your car, often, these warranties are transferable. However, there is almost always a transfer fee.

TIP: There are some solid, reputable extended warranty companies, but there are several scammers, too. It’s buyer, beware.

Verify, Verify, Verify

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

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

FAQ

Can you transfer a new car warranty?

New car warranties issued by the carmaker can be transferred.

How much does transferring a new car warranty cost?

New car warranties issued by the carmaker automatically transfer free of charge from one owner to the next.

Can you transfer a CPO warranty?

In most cases yes, but the transfer must be from a private individual to another private individual. Some carmakers charge a fee anywhere from $50 to $200 to file the paperwork for transferring a CPO warranty.

What is a car VIN number?

“VIN” actually stands for Vehicle Identification Number. Every vehicle has its own unique VIN. You can use it to determine if that vehicle is still covered by a factory warranty, as well as other important facts about the vehicle. Carmakers place the VIN in various locations, but one spot is on a metal plate on the driver’s side of the dashboard where it meets the windshield.

What is powertrain warranty coverage?

Typically, a powertrain warranty covers all the components responsible for making torque and ushering it to the wheels. For example, the engine, transmission, driveshaft, axles, and so forth are all included in the powertrain.

Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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49 COMMENTS
  1. I bought a ’16 Nissan Rouge with 82,539 miles, Nissan placed an extended warranty for up to 84,000 on the power train because their CVT transmissions would go out. The dealership I bought it from did npt place anything in writting on the sales about the extnded warranty. Now not even 3 months later and 5,000 miles later the transmission is dead. Can this dealership be held responsible for not having the extended warranty information and fix the transmission?

  2. I was told by a Honda dealer selling a 2020 Subaru STI with only 1200 miles, that the new car warranty would not transfer to me because the car is not being sold by an authorized Subaru dealer. is this correct?

  3. I bought a 2015 Kia Optima from a dealership that is not Kia and I have only had it for exactly 1yr with 49,000 miles. Something has gone wrong with the engine and a mechanic told me it seems to be serious. Would I qualify for the 5yr/60,000 warranty as a second owner? And if so would I contact the dealership that sold me the car or Kia? This vehicle was involved in an accident prior to me buying the car.

  4. considering buying either a used 2017 Kia Niro or used 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.  Do you know if the bumper to bumper warranties and the power train warranties will carry over in full or be reduced or possibly lost all together?

  5. Wanting to buy a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Limited from a personal owner and he said that it has still under warranty as he bought 8 years /160,000 KM. In this case, he is wrong then it would be the 5 yrs 100,000 KM?

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