You buy a new car, drive it for a couple of years, and then the inevitable breaks and damage surface. When they do, you’ll want to have a fast and simple way of dealing with them, without breaking the bank. To avoid paying for them altogether, the first thing you’ll need to determine if your car is still under warranty.
Warranties are typically offered by companies as a sign of good faith. Also, they’re the only way to ensure your pricey new investment doesn’t go to waste in a few years. It’s important to know the status of your warranty, as well as its terms and conditions. So, keep reading to learn all there is to know about car warranties and how to check if yours is still valid.
Car Warranty 101
When you purchase a car, be it brand new or used, you need to know that it can go the distance. So, a vehicle warranty is incredibly important; arguably, it’s as essential as your home insurance. Moreover, it’s your safety net and sometimes the only thing you can rely on when something goes wrong with your car.
There are two most common types of warranties — adjustment and manufacturer. Also, there are some key differences between the two and what they cover.
Most dealers offer adjustment warranties to cover the cost of repair for smaller issues such as rattles, squeaks, and leaks. Through these warranties, you’ll be able to fix any minor nuisances your car might go through. Also, they usually come with a time limit, which is typically around 90 days.
You should always take your car for a test drive before purchasing it to ensure it’s in perfect condition. If you notice anything suspicious, be sure to have the dealer look at it and fix it. Moreover, if there are any major issues — make arrangements with the dealer to have them fixed as soon as possible.
When you splurge on a fancy new car, you should have a guarantee that it will be in perfect condition for some time— and that’s what a manufacturer’s warranty is for. The warranties cover all major components of your car for a certain period of time or mileage milestones.
The manufacturer’s warranty comes with almost all new cars and even some used ones. Also, you can get it no matter what type of car you’re purchasing, regardless of its age or payment plan. They can be further broken down into four types — bumper to bumper, powertrain, rust, and a secret one.
Bumper to Bumper
This warranty is arguably the most important one as it covers the majority of the parts and systems of your car. A 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty is pretty standard. But some manufacturers offer up to 5 years/50,000 miles of protection.
However, it doesn’t include the parts that go through a lot of wear and tear naturally, such as tires, wiper blades, and brake pads. Luckily, the bumper to bumper warranty does cover the car’s electronics which are typically quite expensive to fix.
The warranty covers multiple mechanical parts of your car, including the engine and transmission. Also, most manufacturers extend a longer time period for a powertrain warranty than they do for bumper to bumper one. For example, Hyundai and Kia will give you up to 10 years/100,000 miles of coverage.
As the name suggests, this warranty covers all damage that happens as a consequence of premature rust. The best part about it is that the vast majority of manufacturers offer lifetime corrosion and rust protection.
“Secret” warranties aren’t so much a secret, as they’re unknown for most of us. These policies are also often referred to as “policy adjustments” or “goodwill services” — and they could be a lifesaver. Within these warranties, a manufacturer could repair any major issue that arises — even when your policy has run out.
With a secret warranty, you can simply call the manufacturer’s customer support department to have them fix your car free of charge. Also, if there have been more complaints about the issue, or you’re a loyal customer of the brand — there’s almost no way they won’t honor this policy.
Now that you know what you can expect from your warranty, and how to make the most of it — let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Keep reading to learn the easiest and quickest ways to check if your car is still under warranty.
Top 3 Ways to Check If Your Car Is Still Under Warranty
1. Locate the VIN
The easiest way to determine if your car’s warranty is still valid is to look at your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). The VIN consists of 17 digits, and it is to cars what social security number is for people.
The number can usually be found in one of two places — the driver’s side of the windshield or the inside of the driver’s door. On your windshield, look for a small metal plate that contains a combination of letters and numbers — that is your VIN. However, if it’s on your door, you’ll see a sticker that contains all kinds of information about your car, including the VIN. More often than not, you can also find your VIN in the vehicle’s registration or insurance card. However, If you still haven’t found your VIN, here’s where else it could be hiding:
- Under the hood — Open the hood and look for a small metal plate with the VIN at the front part of your engine.
- The wheel well — The wheel well is typically located around your back tire, so you should inspect the surrounding area to see if it’s there.
- Under a spare tire — Spare tires can usually be found in the trunk of your car and may be the place where the manufacturer places their VIN plates. To check, simply lift the tire and look for the number underneath it.
- Under the wipers — Gently lift up your wipers on the driver-hand side and look for the VIN sticker.
How to Check the VIN
To check whether your VIN is still valid and your car is still under warranty, you can enter the digits here. Additionally, you can look up your car’s warranty info and other details about it, such as if it’s been reported as lost or stolen on the NICB’s website.
2. Check the Mileage on Your Car
All major car manufacturers offer warranties for a certain number of years or mileage. You can typically look up the model of your car, as well as remind yourself for how long you’ve had it by looking at your owner’s manual. Also, check the odometer to determine how many miles your car has on it. The odometer can typically be found behind your steering wheel.
To look up information about your car’s warranty based on the manufacturer and year of make, you can check out this link. By inputting the info for your car, you’ll be able to see if the warranty has expired.
3. Contact the Dealership
If you bought your car from a dealership, they should have all the necessary information about it — including your warranty status. To check if it has expired, you can give them your VIN number, or tell them the year of make and the mileage on your car.
Some dealerships will also tell you what your warranty status is; if you tell them your personal information that you left when you purchased the car. Additionally, you can drive your car to the dealership so they can check the VIN and other info about it on the spot.
What to Do When Your Warranty Expires
If it turns out that your warranty is void, you should think about investing in a new one as soon as possible. In addition to purchasing a manufacturer’s warranty, you should also consider getting an extended warranty.
Getting an Extended Car Warranty
No matter how well you take care of your vehicle, it will show signs of use and break down eventually. When this happens, it’s great to have an extended car warranty. An extended warranty can add an extra layer of protection on your car, and make it last that much longer. Also, you won’t have to pay a steep repair bill if something goes wrong months after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
However, the trick is getting one sooner rather than later, because you’ll be able to pay less for them. Also, I advise you to go with car warranty companies, rather than a car dealership. The reason behind this is that car dealerships often offer these services with high additional fees.
Even the most luxurious, “reliable” cars will face the occasional hick-up and need to be fixed. When this happens, you should be able to call on your warranty to avoid paying for repairs out of your pocket. You shouldn’t waste money just because you don’t know how to check the car’s warranty by yourself. Finally, check your warranty status occasionally, even if you don’t have to call on it for a specific repair. This way, you’ll avoid any unwelcome surprises and paying for repairs that aren’t your fault. Hopefully, this article has taught you all you need to know about warranties, and checking their status.