Originally published on May 26, 2015 on autoTRADER.ca

Pop quiz: What’s the best car warranty? The one you never have to use, of course! Trick question aside, warranty coverage can vary greatly between manufacturers. Buying new? If you’re keeping your car for more than three years, this is information you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping the competition. If you’re buying used from an independent seller, make sure to get complete maintenance records from the seller as dealerships will request this data for any warranty repairs.

Basic Complete Vehicle

Most manufacturers offer a 3-year, 60,000 km warranty for when anything goes wrong with your new purchase (aside from cosmetic damage and regular wear-and-tear). Luxury marques (and Volkswagen) typically offer a 4-year, 80,000 km warranty. But who reigns supreme? Mazda offers a 3-year warranty, but does not impose a distance-based restriction, unique in this category (in fact, their warranties are unlimited distance across the board). Infiniti offers a 4-year, 100,000 km warranty, but it’s Hyundai, Kia, and Mitsubishi at the top, all with 5-year, 100,000 km warranties. Special mention goes to BMW, which offers no-cost maintenance for the duration of the basic warranty.

Basic Complete Vehicle Warranty Terms
Manufacturer Duration Distance
Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Dodge SRT, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Mitsubishi1, Nissan, RAM, Scion, Subaru, Toyota 3 years 60,000 km
Mazda 3 years unlimited
Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche, Smart, Tesla, Volkswagen, Volvo 4 years 80,000 km
Infiniti 4 years 100,000 km
Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi2 5 years 100,000 km

1 i-MiEV, Lancer Evo, Lancer Ralliart
2 all models except i-MiEV, Lancer Evo, Lancer Ralliart

Powertrain

Most cars are covered by a 5-year, 100,000 km powertrain warranty, though there is greater variation in both duration and distance covered. European luxury marques tend not to offer a separate powertrain warranty; rather, powertrain components fall under the basic 4-year, 80,000 km warranty. Standouts in this category include Tesla, which offers an 8-year, unlimited distance warranty, and Mitsubishi, with 10 years and 160,000 km.

Powertrain Warranty Terms
Manufacturer Duration Distance
Dodge SRT 3 years 60,000 km
Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche, Smart, Volvo 4 years 80,000 km
Acura, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Mitsubishi1, Nissan, RAM, Scion, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen 5 years 100,000 km
Buick, Chevrolet, GMC 5 years 160,000 km
Mazda 5 years unlimited
Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln 6 years 110,000 km
Tesla 8 years unlimited
Mitsubishi2 10 years 160,000 km

1 i-MiEV, Lancer Evo, Lancer Ralliart
2 all models except i-MiEV, Lancer Evo, Lancer Ralliart

Rust-Through

Also known as corrosion/perforation warranty (but distinct from surface corrosion), this covers you when that little bit of bubbling paint turns into a yawning, orange-rimmed chasm. Most manufacturers offer a 5-year, unlimited distance warranty, though many European brands offer a 12-year, unlimited warranty. Fiat-Chrysler separates the terms for outer panels – those which are painted and that you can see while walking around the car.

Rust-Through Warranty Terms
Manufacturer Duration Distance
Chrysler, Dodge, Dodge SRT, Fiat, Jeep, RAM (all panels) 3 years unlimited
Chrysler, Dodge, Dodge SRT, Fiat, Jeep, RAM (outer panels) 5 years 160,000 km
Tesla 4 years 80,000 km
Acura, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Scion, Smart, Subaru, Toyota 5 years unlimited
Buick, Chevrolet, GMC 6 years 160,000 km
Cadillac, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus 6 years unlimited
Infiniti, Mazda 7 years unlimited
Audi, BMW, Mini, Porsche, Volkswagen, Volvo 12 years unlimited

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance packages are not all created equal; however, you can expect 24-hour availability, towing, jump-starting and spare tire installation at the very least. There are too many variables to capture succinctly in a table, so refer to the manufacturer’s documentation to confirm which services they provide and the extent of their coverage. Special mention goes to Cadillac and Lincoln for their 6-year, 110,000 km offerings.

Roadside Assistance Terms
Manufacturer Duration Distance
Dodge SRT, Nissan, Scion, Toyota 3 years 60,000 km
Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi1, Subaru 3 years unlimited
Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Tesla, Volkswagen 4 years 80,000 km
Infiniti 4 years 100,000 km
Acura, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Smart, Volvo 4 years unlimited
Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Jeep, Kia, RAM 5 years 100,000 km
Buick, Chevrolet, GMC 5 years 160,000 km
Hyundai, Mitsubishi2 5 years unlimited
Cadillac, Lincoln 6 years 110,000 km

1 i-MiEV
2 all models except i-MiEV

Hybrid Powertrain

The warranty coverage on most any hybrid/electric vehicle powertrain is the same: 8 years, 160,000 km. A notable exception here is Tesla, which covers its powertrains and 85 kWh battery packs for 8 years with no distance limit, while its 70 kWh battery pack is covered for 8 years, 200,000 km.

Hybrid/Electric Powertrain Warranty Terms
Manufacturer Duration Distance
Mercedes-Benz, Smart 4 years 80,000 km
Porsche 6 years unlimited
Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen 8 years 160,000 km
Tesla (70 kWh battery) 8 years 200,000 km
Tesla (powertrain, 85 kWh battery) 8 years unlimited

Still with us? Warranty terms present a mind-boggling array of numbers and conditions, though they only make up part of the picture when it comes to owning a reliable ride. Before committing to a purchase, check online for reviews from current owners of the same model generation.

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