What Is A Used Car Warranty?

2002 Acura TL used car

Buying a used car might seem like a daunting proposition, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble and aggravation by opting to purchase a vehicle with a used car warranty. What is a used car warranty? In a way, it’s a lot like a new car warranty, with a few differences.

There are several kinds of used car warranties. These include basic warranty, extended-length or service contracts, certified pre-owned (CPO), implied warranties, and warranties covering aftermarket accessories and replacement parts.

Basic – While most states permit dealerships and private parties to sell used cars as-is, without a warranty, dealers will sometimes offer a basic or minimal warranty in order to get rid of the car. This warranty is usually limited in nature, in what it covers and its duration, ranging from 30 days to one year from date of sale.

Extended length – Often called service contracts, extended length warranties for used cars are similar to those offered with new vehicles. There are many different varieties of service contracts, so it pays to read the fine print. Some cover costly failures up to 100,000 miles, while others cover only the most serious engine failures. Still others provide coverage for everything except normal maintenance. Prices can get expensive for these used car warranties, and basic ones carry higher deductibles for the consumer as well.

Certified pre-owned (CPO) – For many consumers, certified pre-owned vehicles are an attractive alternative to buying a new car. That’s because they’re backed by the manufacturer after going through a rigorous certification process. CPO vehicles are typically less than five years old. The CPO warranty takes effect after the vehicle’s original warranty expires, and provides coverage for a specified number of years or miles, whichever comes first. There are also third-party so-called certified warranties, but be careful of these as they are not warranties and do not carry the manufacturer’s backing.

Implied – A few states that don’t permit a car to be sold as-is have what is termed implied warranties, meaning sellers can only sell a car that is able to run.

Aftermarket – Adding turbochargers, special wheels, high-tech electronics and entertainment equipment that isn’t factory-installed won’t be covered by a new-car warranty. In fact, some aftermarket accessories installed on a vehicle will void the new-car warranty. But the aftermarket company often provides their own warranties – which may only cover the specified component or part, not any original car parts that may be affected. Read the warranty carefully to know what is and isn’t covered.

Replacement parts – Another warranty that applies involves used car replacement parts purchased through a dealership. The dealer will replace defective parts, although the warranty may carry mileage limits. Battery replacement warranties through some auto manufacturers have longer duration.


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