There are basically three levels of extended warranties, or vehicle service contracts you can purchase. They are bumper to bumper, stated component and powertrain.
Each level will cover a specific number of parts. However, there are certain parts that are not covered by any warranties and certain circumstances where a part is not covered.
Standard Maintenance and Consumables
Maintenance and consumable items are parts that need to be replaced on a regular basis over the normal course of owning a vehicle. These include:
Brake Rotors and Drums
Exhaust System Components
Spark Plugs and Wires
Distributer Cap and Rotor
Manual Clutch Pads
Fluids – oil, anti-freeze, refrigerants, grease and lubricants
Tires and Wheels (optional coverage on some policies but generally not a good value)
Note that some vehicle manufacturers will cover a small portion of the maintenance items. This is not part of the warranty. It is a maintenance program that is included with the purchase of a new vehicle.
Body Work and Interiors
These are components that technically don’t break but usually deteriorate, fade, scratch, rip or become loose over the normal course of time.
Air and Water Leaks
Squeaks and Rattles
Upholstery, Fabric and Carpets
Convertible Tops (mechanics are covered but not the top itself)
Circumstances Where a Part is Not Covered
Even though a part might be covered under the policy there are certain circumstances when it wouldn’t be. These are usually found in the exclusions section of the warranty contract.
Breakdowns caused by:
Rust or corrosion
Collision, fire or theft
Acts of nature
Lack of proper maintenance
Contamination of fluids, fuels, coolants or lubricants
Non factory installed components or modifications
Abuse, racing or off-roading
Always read the service agreement carefully to determine what parts are covered and what parts you are responsible for.
Additional Resources: Anatomy of an Auto Warranty Contract, Choosing the Right Extended Warranty