Drive home the savings with our favorite new-car warranties

Auto technician looking at engine

You’ll have fewer worries and save a bundle in maintenance costs if you buy a new car or truck covered by one of our five favorite warranties.

The brands we’ve singled out offer better-than-average guarantees that will reduce your driving costs – guaranteed.

We began by comparing the four types of coverage every new model comes with:

The bumper-to-bumper warranty will fix, free of charge, virtually every part on the car, from the air conditioner to that latest high-tech sound system. About the only things it doesn’t cover are parts that wear out from normal use, such as brake pads and tires. The industry standard is three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The drivetrain warranty extends that protection for the vehicle’s major mechanical components, such as the engine and transmission. The current standard is five years or 50,000 miles.

The corrosion warranty guarantees against rust-through (that means actual holes in the metal), and the average here is six years and 100,000 miles.

Free roadside assistance sends a tow truck if you break down or just lock yourself out. This typically lasts three years and 36,000 miles.

We started by picking the brands that offer bumper-to-bumper protection for at least four years and 50,000 miles.

We particularly liked one that included the latest addition to luxury-car warranties – a maintenance program.

It allows you to take it back to the dealer for free oil changes and other routine maintenance, including the replacement of parts because of normal wear and tear.

Then we threw out all the brands (with one exception) that didn’t offer longer-than-average roadside assistance and drivetrain warranties, too.

Finally, we made some choices based on which brands offer the most extensive protection on the most affordable new cars and trucks.

(We figured that guaranteeing an $80,000 luxury sedan is a lot easier than providing the same coverage for a $20,000 compact.)

With all those numbers in hand, here are the makes we think offer the five best warranties.

Hyundai offers the best overall warranty coverage in the business on a very affordable lineup of new cars. Most luxury cars don’t provide this kind of protection, and it’s a major reason you’re seeing so many more Accents and Sonatas on the road today. The terms are:
Bumper-to-bumper: 5 years/60,000 miles
Drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion: 7 years/unlimited miles
Roadside assistance: 5 years/unlimited miles

Kia is part of the same South Korean industrial conglomerate as Hyundai, and its models are slightly lower-priced than their Hyundai counterparts. (Kia’s hyper-stylish new Optima midsize sedan, for example, is the mechanical twin to Hyundai’s smashingly successful Sonata.) Yet Kias come with almost the same great warranty coverage. There are only a couple of minor differences.
Bumper-to-bumper: 5 years/60,000 miles
Drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion: 5 years/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000 miles

Mini isn’t a bargain brand, but all of its small cars come with great fuel economy and warranty protection. Although the drivetrain warranty is a little shorter than average, this is our favorite that offers the free maintenance program. You can literally drive a Mini for three years (or 36,000 miles) and pay for nothing but gas.
Bumper-to-bumper: 4 years/50,000 miles
Drivetrain: 4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion: 12 years/unlimited miles
Roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited miles
Maintenance program:3 years/36,000 miles

Mitsubishi isn’t a name at the top of everyone’s new-car shopping list, but the company is drastically changing its lineup to more environmentally-advanced vehicles and delivers some of the most comprehensive warranty coverage of any maker of popularly-priced vehicles.
Bumper-to-bumper: 5 years/60,000 miles
Drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion: 7 years/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance: 5 years/unlimited miles

Buick is another brand moving quickly to change its image; in fact, there isn’t a single old-guy car left in Buick’s lineup. Yet you get the same top-notch warranty coverage as General Motors’ Cadillac division even though Buicks cost thousands less.
Bumper-to-bumper: 4 years/50,000 miles
Drivetrain: 5 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion: 6 years/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance: 5 years/100,000 miles

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  • jen

    Cadillac, Ford, Lincoln and Buick did well in the latest J.D. Power dependability study for 2009 model year cars. Chrysler products were at the bottom, but 2009 was also the company's lowest point in recent memory. Toyota and Hyundai did well. Check out the list here.