New cars come with warranties, but which automakers offer the best in the business?
Picture yourself in a dealership buying a new car. It’s all shiny and pristine, without a scratch, dent, or speck of dust on it. Even the tires are spotless. Are you thinking about what’ll happen if it breaks down? That may be one the last things on your mind, but even new cars can encounter problems. They are, after all, complex machines, with more moving parts than we’d care to count, made out of corrodible metal, moving down the highway at a mile a minute. So when choosing which car is right for you, it’s important to take warranty coverage into account.
Automakers typically offer their new cars with several types of warranty, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the differences between them. There’s the basic – or “bumper to bumper” – warranty that covers everything on the car, save for consumables like tires (which are the owner’s responsibility) and accessories (which may be covered under a separate warranty). Once that expires, though, your vehicle may still be covered for problems with the drivetrain and against corrosion. In the case of a hybrid or electric vehicle, there may be additional warranties to cover those components as well. And almost all new cars now come with roadside assistance warranties that will send a truck out to your rescue should you find yourself stranded by the side of the road with your car broken down.
The more expensive luxury brands tend to offer better warranties than more budget-friendly manufacturers, but the best warranties are actually offered by mainstream Asian marques. Mitsubishi, Hyundai, and Kia all offer basic warranties good for 5 years or 60,000 miles, and drivetrain coverage for 10 years and 100,000 miles. Mitsubishi’s corrosion warranty is good for 7 years and 100,000 miles, Hyundai’s for the same time with unlimited mileage, and Kia’s for five years and 100,000 miles.
More upscale automakers follow close behind. For example Jaguar, combatting a lingering reputation for unreliability, recently rolled out superior coverage to rival the industry leaders. Japanese luxury marques Infiniti, Acura, and Lexus are close behind, along with American premium brands Lincoln, Cadillac and Buick, German automakers Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, and BMW, as well as Land Rover, Alfa Romeo, Volvo, Mini, Fiat, and Smart. Expect four years and 50,000 miles from European and luxury automobiles, often with an even longer powertrain warranty, and corrosion protection for as much as 12 years with unlimited mileage.
More common, however, are three-year basic warranties limited to 36,000 miles, with five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties, and five-year corrosion warranties (either unlimited or capped at 100,000 miles). Those are the kinds of warranties you’d find from domestic brands like Ford, GM’s Chevrolet and GMC brands, and Chrysler vehicles (including Dodge, Jeep and Ram). Volkswagen comes in around the same level, as do Japanese automakers like Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Scion, and Subaru.
Finally, if you’re buying a vehicle with an electric motor – whether working on its own or in conjunction with a gasoline engine in a hybrid setup – you should expect a good eight years of coverage, both for the electric motor and the battery. However Hyundai and Kia, once again, set themselves apart with ten years of coverage on electric powertrains.
Of course there’s more to buying a new car than its warranty plan. Better to drive a car that’s built well than one that causes you problems, even if the repairs are covered under warranty. But you can’t put a price on peace of mind, and more than any single repair bill, that’s what a solid warranty provides.