In the event of an accident, knowing if your vehicle is still under warranty can give you peace of mind especially when you need to bring your car to an auto repair shop. The best way to find out is by contacting the dealer or manufacturer for the make and model of your vehicle. There are also other methods that can be used, but they may require more work and cost more, but they will likely give you more information.
Locate the Original Warranty Terms
No matter how you determine whether your car has a warranty, you will definitely need your vehicle identification number. This is a 17-character combination of numbers and letters that is unique to your vehicle. You can find it on the driver’s dashboard at the bottom of your windshield, or on a sticker attached to the driver’s-side door jamb.
Warranty durations generally have a mileage and time limit. A bumper-to-bumper warranty could be for three years/36,000 mi. This is often expressed as “3/36.” It expires when the first limit is reached, which can be either 36,000 miles or three years. Some corrosion warranties only have a time limit.
The vehicle’s odometer should tell you how many miles the car has traveled, but determining “years” can be a little more difficult. It’s based on the date of the first sale to the customer and not the model year. This can make it difficult to determine the “years” because the date of the sale for any given model year car can vary greatly. A 2020 model-year car, for example, could have been manufactured between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2020. This is a two-year span and the car may not have been sold to any customer right away after that time.
You will need to know the warranty duration and the original date of purchase. Additionally, you might want to identify which parts of the warranty are transferable to a new owner. The 10/100 powertrain warranty offered in Hyundai, Kia, and Mitsubishi applies only to the original purchaser. Subsequent owners will receive powertrain coverage for the same 5/60 warranty.
You might not have the owner’s guide that outlines the warranty terms. However, it is possible to search online for “What was manufacturer warranty on a [year], make, and model]?” You might search for “What is the manufacturer warranty on a 2020 Dodge Charger?” The manufacturer’s website should also have the information.
How to determine the car’s date of sale and whether it’s covered
It’s not easy to determine the date of the car’s sale (assuming that you don’t have the original paperwork) and whether the warranty still applies. The dealership does not have to provide this information, even if you find people who can give you details. It might be better to go straight to the manufacturer.
You can search “How can I contact [manufacturer]?” (e.g., “How do I contact Toyota?”) in Google. This might be a good place to start. Another option is to go directly to the manufacturer’s site, although you might need to look around for links to support and contact pages. You will usually find a link to a warranty page once you reach the manufacturer’s support site.
You should be able at most to locate the original warranty coverage for your vehicle’s year and make. In some cases, you may also be able to copy and paste your VIN into this page to check if your vehicle is still covered under warranty. You may also find a telephone number that you can call for assistance.
If this fails, or you need more information about the vehicle, you can use the VIN number to check online. However, you will likely have to pay for a report. A report like this is a good idea, especially if you are looking for information on a car that you might be interested in buying.
CarFax is the most well-known vehicle report provider. It provides a detailed summary of the vehicle, including ownership transfers, the state where it was titled, major accidents, service work, and mileage history. (So you can verify if the odometer has been rolled back).
The warranty may extend to the powertrain if the original buyer bought an extended warranty or the previous owner purchased the car as certified used with a longer warranty. These warranties are transferable. To prove that either warranty existed or if they are transferable, you will likely need documentation from the previous owner. However, a dealer might be able to look it up using the VIN.
A recall may cover parts that are not covered under the standard warranty. These parts are usually safety-related. You can search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at NHTSA.gov/recalls to find recalls that have affected the vehicle in question.
There may be a “secret warranty” for a part of a car that is found to have failed prematurely after its warranty ends. This voluntary warranty is usually offered by the manufacturer as a gesture of goodwill and does not necessarily cover the entire auto repair. These warranties are not widely known, as the name suggests. It is worth doing a Google search for “secret warrant on [year, make, part]” or calling a dealer to inquire if the part failed not long after the warranty’s expiration date.
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