How to Find out If Your Car Has a Factory Warranty

March 18, 2013

One of the best features you can find in a late model used car is a factory warranty that's still active. Learn how to check the car's warranty status.

If you have recently purchased a newer used car you may actually have a factory warranty still in place. For most vehicles, the factory warranty is a 3-year/36,000 mile warranty, but some like the Rolls Royce will cover four years and up to 999,999 miles for the first four years. Some cars will not allow the factory warranty to be transferred and some will charge a small transfer fee if the car is sold. This article will discuss how to know if your car has a factory warranty, how to know if you should buy a warranty, etc.

3 Steps to See If Your Car Has a Factory Warranty

How do you know if the factory warranty still exists? Try these three steps.

Use the VIN
The first thing you will need to do to investigate your vehicle's factory warranty is to find your VIN or vehicle identification number. This number belongs to your car only and works like a social security number for people. The VIN is located in a number of different places on each car but for clarity here are two of them. On the driver's side of the windshield just above the dash you should see a small metal plate. The mixture of letters and numbers on this plate is your VIN. The other place to look for the number is on the inside edge of the driver's side door. The sticker that is there will have a lot of information on it including the VIN.

Contact Dealership
If you cannot find the VIN number, the only real way to check your vehicle's factory warranty is to call or visit your local dealership. They will need the VIN number to look up the information but can tell you for sure what is and is not covered if anything at all. Your car's factory warranty starts the day the vehicle is first sold. That means if your 2007 car sat on the dealer's lot and did not sell until 2009, the factory warranty may still be good today. The only way to find out for sure is to call the dealership.

Browse CARFAX
If the dealership is also not clear, browse CARFAX. Sometimes if you get the vehicle history report the information for the warranty will be on the report. It also mentions whether the warranty is by the best car warranty company or not.

Is an Extended Factory Car Warranty Worth It?

One may wonder if an extended factory car warranty is really worth buying. Many car finance experts claim an extended factory car warranty is a good investment. This is because it, like everything else, wears overtime; whether it is a car, a boat, or a piece of clothing--everything has a life expectancy. So eventually, no matter how well one takes care of their vehicle, something will wear out. In a way, this is a good thing. The fact you can bank on something wearing out will help steer you towards making a decision about purchasing an extended warranty. An extended warranty is really insurance. It insures you will have the money to pay for repairs when required on your vehicle. Like most insurance, it is best to buy it sooner than later. This is because it is cheaper when you buy it sooner.

Purchasing Warranties Online Can Save You a Lot of Money

Just because you choose to purchase an extended factory car warranty as soon as possible when you buy your new car, doesn't mean you necessarily have to purchase from the dealer. In fact it is best to be cautious about this because, first and foremost, selling extended warranties is a very lucrative business. It is well known that automobile dealers make as much or more selling extended factory car warranties as they make selling cars. So while it may be convenient to purchase your extended factory car warranty at the time you purchase a new car, it is also prudent to shop around.

Shop on the Internet with companies such as Warranty Direct and Nation Warranty. Buying on the Internet can save you as much as 50%. Start shopping before you actually buy and take delivery of your vehicle. However, it you are shopping after the sale, it will not hurt to be without your extended factory car warranty for a few days.

What to Look for in Factory Warranties

Although there are many extended factory car warranty companies, all of them sell three basic types of extended warranties:

  • bumper-to-bumper
  • stated component
  • drive-train

Bumper-to-Bumper Extended Factory Car Warranties
Bumper-to-bumper extended factory car warranties cover everything except maintenance items like oil, brakes, and tires (tires have their own warranty). However, usually you do not need a bumper-to-bumper factory car warranty because new cars come with one, free. Only buy a bumper-to-bumper factory car warranty for when your free warranty expires—or example, after you have gone past the 3-year/36-thousand mile new car warranty on your new vehicle.

Stated Component Factory Car Warranties
Stated component factory car warranties cover only those components "stated" in the warranty—for example the engine, transmission, suspension and the cooling and heating systems. No other components are covered. State component extended factory car warranties is recommended for vehicles that are beyond the original warranty but are not considered "high mileage," for example over 100,000 miles.

Drive Train Factory Car Warranties
Drive train factory car warranties cover only the engine, transmission, drive shaft and drive axles. These types of factory car warranties are usually recommended for high-mileage vehicles.

What to Look Out For
Make sure you find out exactly what is covered under your extended factory car warranty. Ask to see this in writing. Also ask about extras, like whether the extended warranty covers a rental car or towing.

Extended Factory Warranty Tips

All new cars and trucks come with a factory warranty. Moreover, all new vehicles will generally come with a bumper-to-bumper warranty that lasts a minimum of 12 months or 12,000 miles. However, most manufacturers now offer bumper-to-bumper warranties that last for a minimum of three years or 36,000 miles—whichever comes first. Federal laws do make certain requirements that must be met for new car warranties regarding emissions systems and the warranties that cover them. According to federal law, vehicles must provide warranty coverage for the emission system for a period of five years or 50,000 miles.

Warranty information for your vehicle will generally be listed in a manual type book similar in appearance to your owner's manual. While all warranty manuals may appear similar in appearance, the warranty information contained inside may vary considerably depending upon the manufacturer.

Basic New Car Warranty Information
With all new car warranties, most major systems and subsystems of a vehicle are covered for a specific period of time and provide warranty protection against malfunction or defect for most parts on a new car.

However, consumable parts, or parts that generally need to be replaced periodically, such as windshield wipers, fluids, belts, and accessories are generally not covered under any manufacturer's new car warranty. So, you should check your owner's manual for specific warranty information for your vehicle. In some cases, tires on your vehicle and car battery may be covered but, you should be aware that some manufacturers may not.

Also, different car manufacturers provide various levels of warranty coverage for accessories, like air-conditioning, sunroofs, premium sound systems and other options. Some manufacturers include them for coverage under the terms of the new warranty while some require you pay for replacement parts while the manufacturer pays for labor. Almost all new car warranties cover the drive train, or engine, driveline and transmission.

New Car Warranty and Emissions
When reviewing your new car warranty, you should pay particular attention to the emissions control section. This is the part that guarantees emissions performance for your vehicle.

An important note, because many states have minimum requirements for pollution control and carbon emissions released from your vehicle. If your vehicle fails to meet the standards of your state, you may be prevented from driving on state roads and highways. Also, repairing a damaged or defective emission control system can turn out to be very costly. So, you should always check to see if there is coverage. If you feel the warranty protection is inadequate, you might want to consider purchasing an extended warranty or mechanical breakdown policy to supplement your new car warranty.

Maintaining Your New Car Warranty
While all new cars and trucks come with a manufacturer's warranty, you are required to perform certain steps in order to make sure your coverage remains in effect. For example, you will need to make sure you follow the manufacturer's directions for having oil changes and routine maintenance performed.

If you fail to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for changing your oil or performing routine maintenance, the car manufacturer will many times simply choose to void your warranty. Under the terms of your current warranty contract agreement, the manufacturer has the right to cancel your warranty if you do not reasonably take good care of your vehicle.

Always make sure you familiarize yourself with maintenance requirements for your vehicle and you have routine maintenance performed.

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