When your salesperson tells you that every new car comes with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, it always invokes the thought, “Wow, I won’t have to pay for a single thing on this car for at least three years!” Sorry, but not true. There are definitely some things you will need to purchase for your vehicle within that timeframe; and some of them can be rather pricy. It’s important to remember these five items and set aside some money for them each year so that you won’t have unexpected expenses staring you in the face the same day your car payment bill and car insurance bill arrive in the mail. These are the five things your manufacturer’s car warranty will not cover.
Yes, this means ALL fluids that your vehicle needs to operate; everything from windshield washer fluid to gasoline, you’re responsible for. The biggest expense in this category is obviously going to be gas, but another petroleum product is tagging closely along in second place – engine oil. Oil changes always seem to come around a lot more often than we expect them. Three-to-five thousand miles can go by in a blink. They are also one of the most important areas of maintenance to keep track of. Your engine oil is your vehicle’s life-blood. If it goes bad, major problems could be on their way. Not to mention, nearly every manufacturer’s warranty requires them to be performed on time in order to keep the warranty valid.
Some other fluids that need to be changed at regular intervals are your transmission fluid, engine coolant (anti-freeze), brake fluid (yes, brake fluid can break down just like any other fluid), and, if applicable, power steering fluid and gear oil. Intervals on all of these items can vary drastically from vehicle to vehicle, so make sure you check your owner’s manual or with your dealership to find the appropriate time or mileage intervals for your vehicle.
These fall into the category of what the manufacturer refers to as “maintenance” items. They basically filter all the contaminants out of your vehicle’s fluids and airways. There are a few that you will definitely need to worry about long before your warranty expires. Most commonly, manufacturer’s warranties typically run 3-years/36,000 miles (though there are several that extend further nowadays), during this time you will be replacing the oil filter more than any other. It happens with every oil change. The next most common is your engine air filter. We say engine air filter because many vehicles now come with a cabin air filter as well. While the replacement interval isn’t typically as frequent for the cabin filter, it is one of those things you’ll pay for out-of-pocket, just like the engine air filter which is typically replaced around every 5,000 miles on average. Some last longer, others don’t; it really depends on how you use your vehicle and where you live.
Your transmission filter, if your vehicle has one, some don’t, will probably only need replaced once, if at all, during your warranty time. But since it is one of those things you’ll pay for, we’ve included it. Another is your fuel filter. This one should be replaced around every 15,000 miles on average. PCV Valves are commonly mistaken for maintenance items – they aren’t. They are emissions items and should be covered under the emissions section of your warranty if yours should ever fail.
3.) Brake Lining
This is one of those areas you want to pay attention to in your warranty. Most manufacturers will cover rotors, drums, calipers, wheel cylinders, hardware, boosters, master cylinders, and brake lines. Notice anything missing? That would be the brake lining. This is more commonly referred to as brake pads and brake shoes. It’s the one section of your brakes that is considered wearable and you will have to pay for them when you need them. The reason we say to pay attention to this section is because some (very few, but there are some) warranties will not cover drums or rotors; these can get expensive so be sure to ask if you’re not quite clear.
Okay, not all rubber is left uncovered by the warranty, just the expensive stuff. You know, those big round things that seem to cost too much and not last long enough? Yep, tires. Most tires should last past the 36,000-mile mark, making this a moot point for most warranties, but there are those rare occasions of excessive wear, punctures, and defects that occur prematurely. The only one of these occasions the manufacturer is going to take care of for you is the defect. All others are on you. The reason we’ve labeled this category as “rubber” and not just “tires,” is very simple – windshield wipers are on you, too. Fortunately, everything else that’s rubber should be covered.
5.) Accidental, or Intentional, Damage
This one is a no-brainer. Basically, if you damage your vehicle in any way, whether intentionally or by accident, you’ll be dealing with your insurance company, not your dealership. There are some exclusions to this rule, though. Some manufacturers offer warranty protection on things like glass and paint for rock chips and cracks. Others will guarantee upholstery against staining. For the most part, however, if you break it, you buy it.
It’s also important to remember that your vehicle’s warranty may be split up into two or three separate documents. There may be a warranty on the emissions parts, one on the powertrain, and one on the rest of the vehicle. They may all be for different lengths of time or mileage intervals, so it’s important to make sure you ask a lot of questions and read through everything before assuming that you do indeed have “bumper-to-bumper” coverage on your new vehicle.