All new vehicles sold in America come with at least two auto warranties, and many include roadside assistance coverage. In the case of hybrid and electric cars, there is coverage for their batteries. Here are the major types of warranties and assistance programs provided to consumers.
Basic Warranty: A basic automobile warranty covers everything except items subject to wear and tear, such as oil filters and wiper blades. Tires and batteries often have their own warranty coverage, which will be outlined in your owner's manual. Emissions equipment is required by the federal government to be covered for two years or 24,000 miles and eight years and 80,000 miles on certain components.
Drivetrain Warranty: A drivetrain warranty takes care of most of the parts that make the car move, such as the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft. Like the basic auto warranty, a drivetrain warranty does not cover certain parts subject to wear and tear such as hoses and belts. However, most of the internal parts of the engine, such as the pistons and bearings, which are subject to wear and tear, are covered by the drivetrain warranty. See your owner's manual or local dealer for specific coverage.
Rust or Corrosion Warranty: A rust or corrosion warranty protects you from rust-through problems with the sheet metal. Surface rust doesn't count. The rust must make a hole to be covered. Keep your car washed and waxed, and rust shouldn't be a problem.
Roadside Assistance: Most manufacturers provide a service that will rescue you if your car leaves you stranded, even if it's your fault. If you lock yourself out of the car, somebody will come and open it up. If you run out of gas, somebody will deliver some fuel (usually enough to get you to the next gas station). If there's a flat tire, somebody will change it for you. See your owner's manual for details or ask the dealer.
Battery Warranties for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: Battery warranties for conventional hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, and plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt, are pretty straightforward. The primary purpose of a hybrid drive system is to reduce air pollution from the gasoline engine by cutting down on the amount of fuel burned. Batteries and associated equipment are considered part of the overall emissions system and under federal emissions rules, they must be warrantied for at least eight years or 100,000 miles.
California and some states that have adopted California's zero-emissions vehicle regulations require even more coverage: Hybrids sold in those states must carry a minimum 10-year/150,000-mile warranty on their battery systems. As of this date, the states are California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the California Air Resources Board.
In addition to the high-voltage battery packs themselves, the hybrid warranty also covers critical elements such as battery pack cooling system components, battery control modules, the hybrid car's continuously variable transmission (if it is equipped with one) and any high-voltage current converters. The parts lists vary by model and manufacturer; check the owner's manual for specifics.
For pure battery-electric vehicles, there are no underlying federal or state emissions regulations. But because battery life and reliability are essential to an electric car's operation, automakers have largely adopted the standard for hybrids: eight years or 100,000 miles on batteries and associated components.
This information applies to the most current model year unless otherwise noted. Please check the automakers' Web sites for more detailed information.
1 For Ford styles that are equipped with the Power Stroke diesel V8 engine, there is a five-year/100,000-mile warranty that applies to the engine.
2 For 2003-'10 model years, Nissan models equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) also have a 10-year/120,000-mile CVT limited warranty extension. (For complete information, see your Nissan dealer and read the actual limited warranty.)
3 Tesla's battery limited warranty extends to eight years or the number of miles specified as follows for the vehicle's battery type, whichever comes first: 40 kWh: 100,000 miles; 60 kWh: 125,000 miles; 85 kWh: unlimited miles.
4 Volvo's "Safe + Secure Coverage Plan" covers 2011, 2012 and 2013 models sold from January 4, 2012 through July 2, 2012 and provides a basic and drivetrain warranty of 5 years/50,000 miles and a roadside assistance warranty of 5 years/unlimited miles.