If you're purchasing a known unreliable car, some sort of warranty is a must-have. Whether you're looking into a BMW, Porsche, Range Rover, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, or just your average Honda Civic, an automotive warranty service contract can grant some much-needed peace of mind as an aftermarket shopper. In the world of third-party automotive warranties, there are two main options.
If you're looking into one of these third-party warranties, you've got two main reputable options that you'll probably want to stick to. Outside of these two, you might find that many of the most common mechanical issues in used cars are not actually covered. In the United States, these two options are CarMax and certified pre-owned warranties.
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
Generally, a certified pre-owned warranty will be split into a bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage and a longer drivetrain and powertrain coverage period. The bumper-to-bumper lifetime of a warranty is usually between one and two years or about 10,000-15,000 miles. The powertrain and drivetrain coverage might be a six- or seven-year warranty, and this limited warranty covers most of the expensive maintenance services that you're certified-preowned vehicle might incur.
A CarMax Warranty is very similar to a certified pre-owned warranty, with just a few exceptions. Occasionally, you might come across a minor part that is not covered by the CarMax warranty company at a service center, repair shop, or other repair facilities, but this will never be a break-the-bank part. In general, however, everything from your drivetrain and mechanical system to your odometer and electrical systems will be covered by the MaxCare warranty option.
That being said, CarMax is otherwise superior in a couple of ways. The entire warranty is a bumper-to-bumper coverage, meaning the entire car is covered for the life of the warranty, which is five years. Again, there might be a minor exception of some specific (but inexpensive) hose, but otherwise, you'll have complete peace of mind for the life of the warranty for the CarMax car.
In addition, a certified pre-owned warranty might not be available on older models. Many manufacturers refuse to offer a pre-owned warranty on anything older than six years. On the other hand, CarMax offers its MaxCare option for older vehicles. This means if you're looking for a used car that is beyond the period, you'll have to go with a CarMax warranty.