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Types of Used Vehicle Warranties



The Buyer’s Guide must show any changes you negotiate in the warranty coverage. It will override anything in your sales contract. So, as you negotiate, be sure the dealer makes any changes to the Buyers Guide, as well as in your contract. For example, if the Buyer’s Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold “as is,” the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide.


There are several types of warranties. It’s important to know their differences.


As Is - No Dealer Warranty means the dealer won’t pay for any problems or needed repairs. You’re assuming the risk of anything that goes wrong after the sale. There are several things to know about “as is” sales:

  • When the dealer offers a car “as is,” the box next to the “As Is - No Dealer Warranty” disclosure on the Buyers Guide must be checked.
  • If the “as is” box is checked, make sure any verbal promises — like promises to repair the car or cancel the sale if you’re not satisfied — are written on the Buyer’s Guide. Otherwise, you may have a hard time getting the dealer to follow through. To find out what disclosures are required for “as is” sales in your state, contact your state attorney general.


Implied Warranties are unspoken, unwritten promises from a dealer to the buyer. If a used car doesn’t come with a written warranty, it’s still covered by implied warranties — unless it’s an "as is” sale. Here are some common implied warranties:

  • A “warranty of merchantability” means the dealer promises the car will do what it’s supposed to do: it will run. This promise applies to the basic functions of a car. It doesn’t cover everything that could go wrong. Just because your car breaks down after the sale doesn’t mean it’s automatically covered by the warranty of merchantability. You’ll need to prove that the problem or defect existed at the time of the sale. But the dealer may disagree and refuse to pay for the repairs.
  • A “warranty of fitness for a particular purpose” applies when you buy a car based on the dealer’s advice that it’s suitable for a particular use. For example, a dealer who suggests you buy a specific vehicle for hauling a trailer is giving an implied warranty that the vehicle can do the job.

If you have problems that aren’t covered by a written warranty, see if there’s protection from one of these implied warranties. Implied warranty coverage can last as long as four years, although the length of the coverage varies from state to state. A lawyer or a state consumer protection office can tell you more about implied warranty coverage in your state.


Full and Limited Warranties

Dealers may offer a full or limited warranty on all or some of a car’s systems or components. Most used car warranties are limited, and their coverage varies.

If you have a full warranty, it will include these terms and conditions:

  • Anyone who owns the car during the warranty period can get warranty service.
  • Warranty service is free of charge, including removing and reinstalling a covered system, for example, steering, brake, fuel or exhaust systems.
  • If the dealer can’t fix the car or covered system after a reasonable number of tries, you can choose replacement or a full refund for your car.
  • To get service under the warranty, you only have to tell the dealer you need it.
  • There’s no time limit.

If any of these statements doesn’t apply, the warranty is limited.

A full or limited warranty doesn’t have to cover the entire car. The dealer may specify that only certain systems are covered.


Warranty Documents

If you buy a car that comes with a warranty, make sure you get a copy. Review it carefully and know what’s covered. The warranty gives detailed information, like how to get repairs for a covered system or part. It also says who’s responsible for fulfilling the terms of the warranty.


Unexpired Manufacturer's Warranties

If the manufacturer’s warranty still is in effect, the dealer may note that in the “systems covered/duration” section of the Buyers Guide. To make sure you can take advantage of the coverage, ask the dealer for the car’s warranty documents. Verify the information (what’s covered, expiration date/miles, and necessary paperwork) by calling the dealership. Make sure you have the VIN when you call.


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