Most new vehicles come with several warranties.
The one most people think of first is the new car “bumper to bumper” (or “basic”) warranty. It covers just about everything except routine maintenance items such as oil and filter changes, brake pads, etc. Routine maintenance is on you. And more important to know, if you fail to do the specified routine maintenance, any problems that develop could also be on you. This includes using the manufacturer’s recommended fluids and filters – and keeping records as evidence that the specified maintenance was in fact done. Read the terms and conditions of your car’s warranty very carefully – and if there’s some point you don’t understand, ask about it at your dealership.
Most current-year vehicles come with at least a three year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. Remember the key phrase: whichever comes first. If you drive 20,000 miles annually, your new car’s bumper-to-bumper 3/36 warranty may run out before two years are out.
Overlapping the basis/bumper-to-bumper warranty is the “powertrain” warranty. It typically covers the engine, transmission, drive axles, transfer cases (4WD vehicles) and so on.
The powertrain warranty almost always lasts much longer than the bumper-to-bumper warranty; for example, several new cars (Hyundai, Kia) have powertrain warranties that are good for as long as 10 year/100,000 miles (again, whichever comes first).
There are also separate warranties for the emissions control systems, hybrid components for hybrid gas-electric cars (covers the batteries and electric motors) and even a warranty for the tires.
Information about your warranty coverages – all of them – should be in the vehicle’s glovebox, with the literature that came with your car when you bought it. It’s a good idea to read through this all stuff, ideally before you have a possible warranty-related problem. Know your coverages; then put the paperwork someplace safe. If you do have a problem at some point down the road, dig up the appropriate paperwork and get ready to take the next step.
* Schedule an appointment at an authorized repair facility –
“Authorized” is very important. Excepting emergencies (and sometimes, even then), most warranty work must be performed at a shop specifically authorized by the manufacturer (the people who built your car; GM, Toyota, etc.). That doesn’t mean it has to be a dealer; independent shops are sometimes ok. It just means the shop – dealer or independent – must bean authorized shop. Don’t authorize work before you know whether the shop is in fact authorized – or you may end up with the bill.
If you have an emergency, such as a breakdown miles from home that forces you to seek help at the first place you can find – “authorized” or not – warranty coverage may still be honored. But you must follow the protocols set forth by the manufacturer of your vehicle (again, see your paperwork), which usually involves calling or otherwise notifying the manufacturer (e.g., Toyota, GM, etc.) and documenting everything that is done to the vehicle.
* Discuss the problem/repair with the service advisor –
It’s important to be on the same page with them – and them with you – regarding any work that may (or may not) come under the provisions of your warranty. If it’s warranty work, be sure the service advisor agrees it’s warranty work – and that it is so noted on your invoice. You don’t want to argue about what was covered after the work has been done.