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Auto Dealer Obligations: Demystifying Car Warranties

When it comes to buying a car, one of the biggest concerns for consumers is the warranty. After all, no one wants to be left with a lemon and a hefty repair bill just a few months after purchasing a vehicle. However, understanding car warranties can be confusing, especially with so many different types and terms. In this article, we will demystify car warranties and discuss the obligations of auto dealers.

What is a Car Warranty?

A car warranty is a promise from the manufacturer or dealer to repair or replace certain components or systems of the vehicle within a specified period of time or mileage. This warranty is included in the purchase price of the vehicle and is meant to provide a level of protection for the buyer in case there are defects or malfunctions with the car.

Different Types of Car Warranties

There are several different types of car warranties, including:

Basic Warranty

Also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty, this type of warranty covers almost everything on the car for a specific period of time or mileage. It usually includes components such as brakes, suspension, electrical, and air conditioning.

Powertrain Warranty

This warranty covers the engine, transmission, and other major components that make the car move. It typically lasts longer than the basic warranty and may have a higher mileage limit.

Emissions Warranty

This warranty covers the car’s emissions control systems, including the catalytic converter and oxygen sensor. It is required by law and must last a certain number of years or miles, depending on the state.

Corrosion Warranty

This warranty covers rust or corrosion damage to the car’s body sheet metal. It typically lasts a longer period of time than other warranties, but may have a mileage limit.

Roadside Assistance

While not technically a warranty, many automakers offer roadside assistance as part of their warranty packages. This service can help with things like flat tires, dead batteries, and towing.

What is Covered by a Car Warranty?

The specific components or systems covered by a car warranty will vary depending on the type and terms of the warranty. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you understand what is typically covered:

Defective Parts

If a component of the car fails due to a defect, the warranty will cover the cost of repairing or replacing the part.

Wear and Tear

Some warranties cover normal wear and tear items such as brake pads, wiper blades, and light bulbs. However, others may exclude these items or only cover them for a limited time.


If the car’s body rusts due to a manufacturing defect, the corrosion warranty will cover the cost of repairing or replacing the affected parts.


If the car fails an emissions test due to a defect in the emissions control system, the warranty will cover the cost of repairing or replacing the affected components.

Auto Dealer Obligations

Auto dealers have several obligations when it comes to car warranties. These include:

Honoring the Warranty

The dealer is responsible for honoring the terms of the warranty, including repairing or replacing covered components at no cost to the buyer.

Disclosing Warranty Information

The dealer must disclose all warranty information to the buyer before the sale, including the type and terms of the warranty.

Resolving Warranty Claims

If the buyer has a claim under the warranty, the dealer must resolve it in a timely and reasonable manner.

Providing Written Documentation

The dealer must provide the buyer with written documentation of the warranty, including any exclusions or limitations.

What is Not Covered by a Car Warranty?

While car warranties provide a level of protection for buyers, there are some things that are typically not covered:

Regular Maintenance

The cost of regular maintenance items such as oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections is not covered by the warranty.

Accidents or Damage

If the car is damaged in an accident or through neglect, the cost of repairs is not covered by the warranty.

Modifications or Upgrades

If the car has been modified or upgraded in a way that affects its performance or safety, the warranty may be voided.


Understanding car warranties can be daunting, but it is an important part of the car buying process. By knowing what is covered by the warranty and what is not, buyers can make informed decisions and protect themselves from unexpected repair bills. Auto dealers also have obligations to honor the warranty and provide accurate information to buyers. By working together, buyers and dealers can ensure a smooth and stress-free car buying experience.


  1. How long do car warranties typically last?

    • Car warranties can last anywhere from one year to ten years or more, depending on the type and terms of the warranty.
  2. Can I purchase an extended warranty for my car?

    • Yes, many dealers and third-party companies offer extended warranties that can provide additional coverage beyond the original warranty.
  3. Is routine maintenance covered by the warranty?

    • No, routine maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections is not covered by the warranty.
  4. What should I do if I have a warranty claim?

    • If you have a warranty claim, contact the dealer or manufacturer as soon as possible. They will provide instructions on how to proceed.
  5. What happens if the dealer goes out of business?

    • If the dealer goes out of business, the manufacturer is still responsible for honoring the warranty. Contact the manufacturer for information on how to proceed.
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