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Drivetrain components are often covered under a powertrain warranty, but always check.
Powertrain/drivetrain warranty coverage terms among new vehicles vary widely.
Hybrid and electric vehicles have specialized drivetrain warranty coverage.
Electric vehicles have unique components with special warranty coverage.
New vehicle warranties often have numerous subsections of coverage, but automakers focus attention on the two main parts. First, the new vehicle limited warranty, which is sometimes called a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty, covers just about everything on the car. Next, some brands also provide a separate, longer powertrain warranty that extends coverage of the engine, transmission, and other components beyond the new vehicle warranty term.
Yet, when car enthusiasts or technicians talk about a car’s transmission and the related parts that deliver power to the wheels, they often use the term “drivetrain.”
Drivetrain parts are usually covered by a powertrain warranty. But for how long? It’s important to know which parts of the warranty cover drivetrain elements, and also to know how extended auto warranties cover these parts. Also, there are more hybrids and electric vehicles available every year, each with its own terminology and particular warranty coverage.
Where Can I Get a Drivetrain Warranty?
Car makers offer their own extended warranties, some of which include multi-tiered coverage choices, such as a powertrain-only warranty. Others offer only more comprehensive and expensive plans.
You also have the option of choosing a third-party extended warranty for a new or pre-owned car. These allow you to buy a powertrain warranty (which covers the drivetrain) at a more affordable price than a full-vehicle warranty and still get the peace of mind from having coverage on many expensive-to-repair parts.
Also, a key benefit of a third-party warranty is you do not need to decide to buy one until after you’ve lived with the car for a while, and you can even wait until the original warranty expires. With some car brands, you need to decide about buying an extended warranty at the time of purchasing a new vehicle.
As an example, the Ford 2020 New Vehicle Limited Warranty shows its powertrain coverage includes the engine, transmission, and basically all of the drivetrain. The word “drivetrain” is never used, however, because it’s more of a descriptive term for the transmission, axle shafts, all-wheel drive transfer case, constant velocity joints (a.k.a. CV joints), wheel bearings, and much more. The list of parts is quite comprehensive (and expensive to fix if not covered by a warranty).
It’s typical for a factory warranty to cover those parts, while a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle warranty or extended warranty may cover a somewhat shortened list of parts. When buying a used car, read any provided or purchased warranty very carefully, and ask the dealer to clarify any doubts you might have about drivetrain coverage.
Powertrain & Drivetrain Warranty FAQ
Is a starter covered under a powertrain warranty?
Do not assume the starter, which gets the gasoline engine running, is covered under a powertrain warranty. It might instead be covered under the “electrical” section of a factory warranty, a CPO warranty, or an extended warranty. This can vary by brand, so consult your warranty booklet or ask the dealer to clarify.
Are sensors covered under a powertrain warranty?
Modern vehicles employ a wide array of electronic sensors, many of them in the powertrain and drivetrain. Those are generally covered under the new vehicle warranty and the federally mandated emissions warranty. However, it’s critical to check your warranty booklet to see how the manufacturer covers these parts. Some can be costly to repair or replace.
The shock absorbers are part of the suspension, so are they considered part of the drivetrain and covered by a powertrain warranty?
Automakers generally consider the shock absorbers, also called “dampers,” to be wear-and-tear items. They may be covered for failure caused by defects, but a warranty will generally not cover repair or replacement due to simply wearing out. For better ride comfort and handling agility, some luxury and performance vehicles use electronically-controlled shock absorbers that can be costly to repair or replace.
Call CARCHEX to consult with a representative about how an extended warranty covers such parts.
How Long Is a Powertrain Warranty?
Powertrain and drivetrain warranty coverage varies by brand. For some brands, once the new vehicle warranty expires, that’s it – coverage for everything ceases unless you purchase an extended warranty from the manufacturer or a third-party provider.
Some brands, however, then continue powertrain coverage for an extended period. It’s unfortunate, but some car owners do forget this distinction and are only reminded when a non-covered part of the vehicle fails.
Here’s a cross-section of mainstream and luxury brands and their new vehicle and powertrain/drivetrain warranty coverage terms.
The powertrain warranty champs are brands in the Hyundai Group: Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia – all with 10 years/100,000 miles of coverage. That coverage applies only for the original buyer, however. Once a Hyundai, Genesis, or Kia is traded in to the dealer or sold to a private buyer, the long powertrain coverage expires, and the vehicle transfers with any remaining portion of the five-year/60,000-mile new vehicle warranty.
What About Hybrids & EV Drivetrain Warranties?
Hybrid and electric vehicles complicate the powertrain/drivetrain explanation somewhat, but the terminology is important to know in order to understand warranty coverage.
Consider the Toyota Prius, perhaps the best-known hybrid. Toyota hybrids come with the same three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty as the regular models. For hybrids, however, the powertrain coverage includes not only the gasoline engine and transaxle (transmission), but also the electric motor/generator.
Toyota also covers the “hybrid system,” which includes various control modules, for eight years/100,000 miles. Starting with the 2020 Toyota hybrid models, the battery coverage runs for 10 years/150,000 miles, and that transfers to subsequent owners if you sell the vehicle.
Kia covers its hybrid and EV powertrains and battery packs somewhat differently, giving them the same 10-year/100,000-mile warranty coverage as its gasoline models.
Going back to our Ford example, this brand provides eight years/100,000 miles of coverage on hybrid and electric powertrains.
If you are buying a hybrid or EV, check the warranty carefully and ask the dealer to clarify any questions about warranty coverage and terms.
Electric Vehicles & Their Drivetrain Warranty
Did you know electric vehicles do not have transmissions? Instead, with their high torque at all speeds, they don’t need a transmission’s gears to multiply torque, as in a gasoline-engine vehicle.
One exception to the rule is the Porsche Taycan. To maximize acceleration performance, the Taycan uses direct drive from one motor for the front wheels, but a unique two-speed transmission between the rear electric motor and the rear wheels.
Like gas-fueled Porsches, the electric Taycan has a four-year/50,000-mile new vehicle warranty, including the powertrain. The Taycan’s EV battery is covered for eight years/100,000 miles.
As a comparison, EV market leader Tesla covers the battery and Drive Unit (the electric powertrain/drivetrain) for eight years/150,000 miles on the Model S and Model X, and 8 years/100,000 miles on the Model 3 and upcoming Model Y.
How Much Does It Cost To Repair Drivetrain Parts?
Every vehicle is different, and with choices in front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive, repair costs are going to vary widely. We picked one repair, “constant velocity axle (CV axle) replacement,” and checked the cost for five different 2017 models on RepairPal.
2017 BMW X3: $1,412–$3,417
2017 Honda CR-V: $966–$2,365
2017 Ford Explorer: $426–$1,153
2017 Toyota Prius: $1,017–$1,880
2017 Dodge Challenger: $607–$1,967
The wide repair-cost variance for individual models reflects different powertrains/drivetrains available for each vehicle, as well as the need to replace one or more CV axles.
What’s The Best Extended Drivetrain Warranty?
Most car makers offer their own extended warranties, or contract with a third party to administer a plan. You can also choose a third-party extended warranty provider on your own, which may offer more choices of coverage. Some manufacturer extended warranties offer a few different tiers of coverage starting with a powertrain plan, while others offer only bumper-to-bumper coverage plans.
Third-party providers tend to offer more levels of coverage, and almost all start with a basic plan that covers the essential components of the powertrain and drivetrain. As an example, the Bronze plans available from CARCHEX, with terms up to six years, cover many of the same internal powertrain and drivetrain parts as original factory warranties.
Third-party extended warranties are now covering hybrid and electric powertrains for certain models, so these become an attractive option for those types of vehicles.
Additional Extended Car Warranty Benefits
Here’s an important thing to remember about drivetrain parts: If even a small part should fail, it could leave you far from home with an inoperable vehicle. Not only could an extended warranty provide coverage to pay for the repair, but many plans from manufacturers and third-party providers include roadside assistance and other perks to alleviate the inconvenience and distress mechanical breakdowns can cause.