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What is a Powertrain Warranty?

By O. Wallace
Updated May 17, 2024
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After you’ve considered the model, bells and whistles and the price of a car, one of the most important features to compare when purchasing one is the warranty offered by the manufacturer. A powertrain warranty covers all or part of the powertrain of a vehicle, which is made up of the engine, transmission and drivetrain. Essentially, the powertrain is the system that powers the car, and then transfers that power to the transmission, then finally to the wheels of the car. When a mechanical problem occurs with a covered part of a powertrain, the manufacturer or auto dealership will pay to have it repaired. What exactly is covered, and to what extent varies enormously.

The powertrain warranty is a powerful marketing tool used to entice buyers in the auto industry. Where a 10-year powertrain warranty was once considered a great warranty, companies like Chrysler are now offering lifetime powertrain warranties with most of their vehicles. It may make all the difference when considering which car to buy, and with the highly competitive nature of the industry, buyers are benefiting from the competition.

As with any contract, the fine print makes all the difference. Make sure you carefully examine the powertrain warranty when comparing different options. If you don’t have a lot of technical knowledge concerning the innards of a car, it’s a good idea to consult someone more knowledgeable, such as a trusted mechanic, or research the terms on the internet. The definition of what a powertrain actually is can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. For instance, one definition of an engine can be referred to as a “long block,” meaning everything on the engine that cannot be removed, or another can be a “short block,” meaning only the part of the engine below the cylinder head, without the oil pump.

After you’ve determined what is covered on the engine, be sure to examine how the powertrain warranty defines the transmission and the drivetrain. If you have a manual transmission, the warranty may exclude an important part such as the clutch. It may cover the driveshaft, the axles or transaxle, but may exclude parts that typically wear, such as clutch plates or CV joints. One thing to remember is that any after market modifications may void or alter the powertrain warranty.

A powertrain warranty can vary in the maximum allowable miles and years that the coverage is in effect. Typically the powertrain warranty covers more miles than a general or “bumper to bumper” warranty. With a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, a powertrain is covered for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles, or whichever comes first. Even if you only put 50,000 miles on a car in 10 years, your coverage will end at that point. Conversely, if you pass 100,000 miles before the 10 years is up, your warranty will lapse. Again, this varies with the manufacturer, or if the car is new or used. Companies buying fleet vehicles may also have very different powertrain warranty coverage than would a normal consumer.

Finally, be sure to check how extensive the warranty is in what type of work is covered. For example, some warranties will only cover the inspection and disassembly of the part, but not the reassembly and/or installation of the repaired or new part. You may bring in your car for a repair you thought was under warranty only to be slapped with a huge repair bill. Like with all things, powertrain warranties can come with frills, such as rental car benefits, towing and the ability to transfer it to a new owner.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon973871 — On Oct 14, 2014

Is the alternator covered under lifetime powertrain? What about the a-arms?

By anon971871 — On Sep 30, 2014

I have a 2013 GMC diesel truck. Got it new from dealership. I've had it for 12 months and I just went over 36,500 miles. Now I have an oil leak. Since it has passed 36,000 miles, is truck still under warranty to get oil leak repaired?

By anon944553 — On Apr 08, 2014

I have a 2009 Dodge Caravan with 40,000 miles. I just had it checked for power train warranty. Now my gear shifter is not working. Is that covered?

By anon939023 — On Mar 11, 2014

Is the front headlamp covered under powertrain warranty?

By anon354880 — On Nov 12, 2013

Don't buy a warranty. They are a scam.

By anon352266 — On Oct 21, 2013

Does anyone know if the steering box is covered on a 2011 Camaro with 41 thousand miles on it?

By anon336675 — On May 30, 2013

Glad I read this. I was about to go with a used car at Enterprise which power trains to 12000 or one year. Yeah, I couldn't believe it either! So I asked what are the options and they tried to after-market me and I after-marketed out the door. The immediate feeling was we don't want to be responsible and another thing was the thought of all those carcasses that sat in that seat before me. I'm going new!

By anon319175 — On Feb 11, 2013

I have a power train warranty that is supposed to cover the cost to repair the problems I am having with my engine. I read the entire thing and it's supposed to cover what was repaired, but now I'm getting the run around from the insurance company. What do I do?

By anon310025 — On Dec 19, 2012

I have a 2011 Chevy impala and we already had to fix the water pump. Now it's the accelerator pedal sensor and Chevy is telling us it's not covered under the powertrain warranty. But without the accelerator, how would the car move? Chevy said they know it's a faulty part but still sell the product.

By anon295714 — On Oct 08, 2012

The engine cuts out on a 2009 Mazda 3 randomly. No codes are showing up. Is this covered under a power train warranty?

By anon294699 — On Oct 02, 2012

To the people asking if it's covered or not by powertrain warranty, take out your warranty booklet or the contract you have signed and see for yourself.

By anon280557 — On Jul 18, 2012

How does one try to get the car company to reconsider the terms of the warranty?

By anon252911 — On Mar 07, 2012

I have a 2003 bmw with 98,000 miles on it. I was thinking about getting a warranty. Is it really worth it?

By clang24 — On Oct 17, 2011

My car won't start and jump starting didn't help at all. I brought it to the dealership and they said it's the starter. It has to be changed.

It has 35,500 miles on it and I bought it 11/2006. civic 07. Will the powertrain warranty cover for that?

By anon200166 — On Jul 26, 2011

It's a shame that my powertrain warrenty for my 2007 trailblazier won't cover a fuel level sensor which is part of the fuel pump which is covered. It just doesn't make sense for a part in the pump not to be covered.

By anon192018 — On Jun 30, 2011

A warranty is for manufactor defects only and some parts are not covered. Read your warranty pamphlets before you accuse a dealer of not covering something.

By anon178431 — On May 20, 2011

is a scratch on the driver side door covered by the power train warranty? Looks like someone keyed it.

By anon174928 — On May 11, 2011

Today I went to the dealership with a 2008 Chevy Equinox with 67,000 miles. Bearings need to be replaced and they told me it is covered under powertrain. I have to pay for a strut and alignment.

By anon166532 — On Apr 08, 2011

does my steering has anything to do with my powertrain? i have a 100,000 mile warranty on it. My steering is all out of control. it is very very easy to turn. is that covered?

By anon137691 — On Dec 28, 2010

the axles are not parallel with one another on the dodge truck and can't get the tires aligned. Are axles part of the drivetrain?

By anon130943 — On Nov 30, 2010

I just bought a pre owned certified 2010 Mazda 3.

I had to purchase 695.00 extended warranty and a 1600.00 additional policy. I believe we were totally ripped off, but the salesman knew how to get us. We should have done more homework before purchasing. lesson learned!

By anon125562 — On Nov 09, 2010

Chances are nothing is covered under the Powertrain, because the dealers and manufacturers can always claim its "wear and tear," unless you have zero miles on your car. Even then, they would come up with some reason to deny any coverage. Whatever you do, never buy an extended warranty! The original manufacturer warranties don't even pay!

By anon122086 — On Oct 26, 2010

i have an infiniti 2006 G35 and my clutch started slipping. i have powertrain warranty on the car still. does anyone know if it's covered by powertrain warranty?

thank you so much.

By anon112982 — On Sep 22, 2010

Purchased a 2004 Dodge Durango. found out extended power train warranty does not cover head gaskets. Probably because they already know these cars have a habitual problem with that part of the engine. Oh well, what do you do?

By anon111438 — On Sep 16, 2010

It is funny. Out of all the car problems listed below in the other comments, none of them is a Chevy! I think it is time to switch to Chevy, everyone!

By anon110164 — On Sep 10, 2010

Powertrain auto warranties now cover A/C and some electrical. And if the policy you're about to buy does not, then don`t buy it.

By anon109350 — On Sep 07, 2010

Is the air conditioning unit part of the powertrain? And will my motor freeze up if it goes bad?

By anon101719 — On Aug 04, 2010

What is covered?

By anon100543 — On Jul 30, 2010

How do you file a complaint?

By anon99908 — On Jul 27, 2010

Powertrain warranties are great for the expensive parts -- in the long run. Just hopefully you won't need to use it. --K

By anon99878 — On Jul 27, 2010

Before you think you're getting a good deal with a lifetime powertrain warranty, read it. You're really not! My Jeep Commander has everything go wrong with the axles and it was never covered. Sad thing is the car is only three years old and 54,000 miles. You know my next car won't be one.

By anon99691 — On Jul 27, 2010

Should you get an extended warranty for a Dodge Charger?

By anon99689 — On Jul 27, 2010

PT Cruiser and the bearings are shot and only 30,000 miles and this warranty does not cover it! Something is wrong.

By anon99685 — On Jul 27, 2010

Jeep Patriot 2008 40,000 and the front axle bearings are bad now, and they say the warranty doesn't cover it. How can that be?

By anon96736 — On Jul 16, 2010

I have dodge caravan 2007 model year. My steering just stopped turning while driving. I found that the belt of alternator is broken and battery low light came on. Would this be covered under the powertrain warranty?

By anon95288 — On Jul 12, 2010

how long is the antilock brake system covered -- is it part of the powertrain? I know wearable parts of the brakes aren't covered (shoes and pads) but have an ABS problem at 49,950 miles (with reg. warranty until 50,000 miles). thank you.

By anon91525 — On Jun 22, 2010

My computer just went out in my 2007 Dodge Caliber and it's covered under my powertrain warranty!

By anon84616 — On May 16, 2010

Has anyone met or even heard of a person who has collected on a power train warranty?

By anon79783 — On Apr 24, 2010

Are Powertrain warranties transferred to pre owned cars?

By anon78539 — On Apr 19, 2010

In my experience wheel bearings are covered. I took in a chevy with 70k+ miles on it and under three years, and they fixed it for free. They told me it was covered under the powertrain warranty. Don't know if they made a mistake or not, usually they don't, but in any event, it was covered.

By atbravo — On Mar 21, 2010

Does anyone know if the throttle position sensor is considered part of the drivetrain and covered under the drivetrain warranty. 2005 Nissan Altima. Thank you.

By anon60597 — On Jan 14, 2010

I have a 2006 f-150.38,000 miles, owned new for three years and four months. The front spindle bearings are shot and the warranty won't cover it. They should last at least 100,000 miles. Guess I will buy a new chevy soon.

By anon58921 — On Jan 05, 2010

had to get a new alternator in my ford freestar. thank goodness we bought the power train warranty. It worked out this time, but don't think i'll buy one for my uplander.

By anon56267 — On Dec 13, 2009

i have found out the hard way that powertrain warranties stink. Nothing ends up being covered, and as for the wheel bearing, no, they're not covered. I've had to replace two already. $800 in the hole.

By anon52939 — On Nov 17, 2009

Is the sending unit part of the power train warranty? In my 2007 trailblazer, the sending unit and fuel pump are all one unit.

By anon52823 — On Nov 17, 2009

is the steering system part of the powertrain?

By anon51267 — On Nov 04, 2009

is the alternator part of the power train warranty?

By aks1114 — On Oct 19, 2009

Would a rear wheel bearing be considered part of the powertrain?

By anon27644 — On Mar 03, 2009

Would an intake manifold runner be considered part of the powertrain?

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