Whether buying or selling used cars in Canada, at some point you will likely wonder about the warranty. If you’re on the purchasing end, you will wonder if the warranty transfers over to you or if it’s only valid for the original owner. If you’re on the selling end, you’re probably curious about whether you can advertise the warranty when reselling, or what sort of paperwork is involved during the transaction. A warranty is an important thing, and you’re right to be concerned.
The fact of the matter is this: a used car in Canada can sometimes have problems, even if you took care to have it inspected before making your purchase and even if you’ve done your due-diligence before buying. Here’s what you need to know.
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Buying from a Dealer
Here’s the good news: If you bought your used vehicle from a dealer, you can relax, the car will still have the original warranty and the dealer will ensure that it transfers over to you. In nearly every case, basic vehicle warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the new car warranty will be valid for the car itself, and for the full term regardless of ownership.
Warranty information is available online – each manufacturer has slightly different coverage – and you will be able to calculate how much remains based on the mileage and the year of the model prior to purchasing.
Buying from an Individual
When looking for used cars for sale, this is where things get tricky, because when the transaction is between two individuals, no warranties apply. While the seller may ensure that the car has been tested and inspected, the terms of the deal are strictly between the two parties. If the buyer doesn’t know what to look for or doesn’t have the eye to catch problems early, it’s very difficult to prove whether or not any future incidents are the result of a manufacturer error or the fault of the driver, in which case a base warranty wouldn’t cover it anyway.
It’s more common to see these types of private deals for much older cars, or cars with serious modifications, so it’s unlikely that the original warranty would apply in these cases anyway.
Different Types of Warranties
This type of warranty covers everything from brake pads to oil changes –these are typically reserved for new cars, but some Certified Pre-Owned (or CPO) programs offer them as a sales incentive, especially if the car is only recently used.
These can differ from car to car or dealer to dealer. Most commonly, they cover electrical breakdowns but they can also cover everything from oil changes to replacing brake pads. These will always cost extra.
The standard factory warranty covers all major components of a vehicle up to a certain time period or mileage milestone, and will usually be displayed as something like “5 year/100,000 KM.” While details vary between manufacturers – especially for electric or hybrid vehicles – but there are some common ones they all have. The 3 main types are:
1. “Bumper to Bumper” Warranty
This is the most comprehensive part of a factory warranty and covers all parts and systems of a vehicle, excluding what’s known as “wear and tear” items such as tires, brake pads, windshield wipers, etc. This applies only to factory parts, and it precludes claims where the driver or vehicle owner is at fault. This coverage also covers all the electronics in the car, which is especially important these days.
2. Powertrain/Drivetrain Warranty
This covers everything important under the hood: engine, transmission, differential and other mechanical parts of the vehicle. Essentially, anything that provides power to the vehicle. Most manufacturers provide a longer coverage period for powertrain warranties than they do with bumper to bumper. It’s important to know, however, that this does not include the battery.
3. Corrosion/Rust Warranty
This covers repairs due to rust or premature deterioration of major sheet metal. Some manufacturers offer lifetime protection, while some are very limited on the level of rust they will cover.
For example, some sedans are only covered if the rust eats straight through the metal, whereas truck and offroad manufacturers offer a much wider coverage for rust on the surface. This coverage is very important for Canadian drivers or anyone who plans to experience extreme weather or driving conditions.
This coverage concerns specific items responsible for reducing tailpipe emissions such the catalytic converter or engine control module. Basically, anything that is responsible for making sure your car drives clean is covered and is treated separately from the standard coverage.
Emissions laws and regulations vary between provinces, so it’s crucial to keep up to date on what your responsibilities are as a driver, and to decide how often to get your vehicle tested.