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Are Transmissions Covered in an Extended Warranty?

BY: David Goldberg
Auto mechanic working on car engine in mechanic's garage

Worrying about car repairs is a fact of life for anyone who drives a vehicle not covered by a manufacturer’s warranty or extended warranty. An oddly performing automobile or a strange sound can lead to visions of service centers and repair bills. These concerns multiply if your used car has trouble changing gears or the engine revs instead of accelerates, some of the signs of a faulty transmission. Your vehicle’s gearbox is one of its most crucial components and one of the most expensive to repair.

The average cost to replace a transmission is over $5,000. Keep in mind that this price is just for a typical unit; working on modern eight- or ten-speed transmissions can be even more costly. Those unwilling to shoulder the burden of such pricey repairs turn to an extended warranty when the original manufacturers’ warranties no longer protect their cars.

Transmission coverage is an essential element of most extended car warranties (also known as vehicle service contracts or auto protection plans). However, gearbox protection is not uniform from company to company or plan to plan.

With this in mind, let’s explore the ins and outs of transmission coverage and extended warranties. Keep reading as we review typical programs, common exclusions, key terms to understand, and how to choose the right plan for your car and budget.

Decoding Transmission Coverage: What’s Typically Included?

Transmission warranty protection usually falls under two types of extended warranties: stated component coverage and comprehensive coverage. Let’s dive into the meaning of each.

Stated Component Coverage

As you research extended warranties, you’ll likely come across phrases like “powertrain protection” or “powertrain warranty.” In broad terms, a powertrain comprises the core systems that move an automobile. The engine, transmission, and drive axle are the most common elements. Sometimes, the differential (gears and bearings that transfer power to each wheel) is part of this definition. There may be additional components, depending on the plan.

A powertrain warranty is stated component coverage because it specifies precisely what the warranty will pay for if something goes wrong. If a part is not detailed in the contract, the vehicle owner is responsible.

Let’s put this in perspective. Third-party providers, like Endurance Warranty, offer affordable auto protection plans that cover your car’s powertrain after your factory warranty runs out. For example, the Endurance Secure plan specifies that the following transmission components are covered: the (automatic or standard) transmission case and all internally lubricated parts, the torque converter, flywheel/flex plate, vacuum modulator, electronic shift control unit, transmission cooler, transmission mounts, oil pan, slave/clutch master cylinder, pilot bearing, and throw-out bearing.

For example, if your car’s torque converter fails due to a defect or poor workmanship, the Secure plan would cover the repair minus any deductible. In contrast, the clutch in a manual transmission, which periodically needs replacing, isn’t protected. This is perhaps an oversimplification, but the idea is that everything that’s covered is spelled out from day one. It’s the essence of stated component coverage. Because the details are defined in advance and the warranty company has a general idea of how much repairs can cost, stated component plans have the lowest premiums.

Many extended warranty companies or auto protection providers, including Endurance, offer expanded stated component programs that include core powertrain protections but layer on more coverage, like for the air conditioning or electrical system.

Comprehensive Coverage

As the name suggests, comprehensive coverage offers greater protection than stated component coverage. You may also encounter other names, like exclusionary coverage or bumper-to-bumper warranty. They all generally mean the same thing: a plan that protects a broad range of components, except for exclusions specified in the vehicle service contract.

In many respects, comprehensive or exclusionary coverage is similar to automakers’ bumper-to-bumper warranties on new cars. Most components are covered for failure due to defects or workmanship.

Let’s look at another Endurance example to explain comprehensive coverage further. The company’s Supreme plan is an exclusionary program with only a few transmission-related exemptions: standard transmission clutch assembly, dual-clutch transmission assemblies, and a friction clutch disc and pressure plate. A car owner with the Endurance Supreme plan would have far greater transmission coverage than someone with a basic powertrain plan. As a result, a comprehensive warranty cost can be higher.

Keep in mind that the service contract explains the details of the complete extended warranty coverage. This is your ultimate reference for what is and isn’t covered, regardless of plan type.

Common Transmission Issues Covered

With the breakdown of stated component coverage versus comprehensive coverage explained, let’s briefly explore common transmission problems and symptoms. Having a basic understanding of potential issues can lead to seeking automotive repairs sooner and possibly preventing minor problems from turning into large ones.

  • Slipping or Delayed Engagement: A transmission that slips or hesitates during gear shifting is a classic sign that the torque converter, clutch, or other internal components are failing.
  • Erratic Shifting: Even an economy car should have a smooth transmission. A car that jerks, feels rough, or makes unusual noises during shifting is often a sign of problems with the gearbox.
  • Leaking Fluid: A leaking transmission is a warning that requires immediate attention. A bad gasket or damaged transmission oil pan is all it takes to turn a perfectly functioning gearbox into a damaged one.
  • Overheating: An overheated transmission, sometimes accompanied by a burning smell, indicates serious internal damage and extensive and expensive repairs ahead.

The Fine Print: Exclusions to Watch For

When used correctly and fully understood, an extended warranty can provide invaluable peace of mind, especially when it comes to expensive transmission repairs. However, every extended warranty has common exclusions that can limit coverage. These are the same exceptions that also apply to new auto warranties.

  • Accident Damage: The fine print in every vehicle service contract contains a clause that excludes accident-related damage. For instance, if a malfunctioning transmission is due to a collision, you’ll want to turn to your insurance company for possible repairs. Problems due to an accident are out of the scope of coverage for an extended warranty.
  • Improper Maintenance: If you read through the Endurance blog, you’ll encounter a recurring theme that regular maintenance preserves a car’s longevity and value. It’s also a requirement. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance intervals keeps your vehicle in peak operating condition, which helps critical components last longer. For instance, failing to follow the automaker’s guidelines for servicing the transmission can lead to troublesome gear changes and a denial of coverage for an extended warranty.
  • Normal Wear and Tear: Another exclusion to be aware of is normal wear and tear. Specific components, including the transmission, wear with age. Extended warranties generally don’t cover repairs due to these occurrences; they’re considered part of the vehicle’s expected lifecycle.
  • Modifications and Abuse: Modifying your car or doing something with it that’s not intended, like racing, can lead to coverage denial by an extended warranty company if the effort causes transmission damage. Most extended warranty contracts have specific exclusions for these activities because of the extra strain on crucial components, like the transmission. However, Endurance offers an optional upgrade that covers certain modifications, like oversized wheels and lifted suspensions.
  • Salvage or Rebuilt Titles: A salvage title results from a vehicle declared a total loss (or “totaled”) by an insurance company. Sometimes, a salvage title vehicle is restored, changing the status to a rebuilt title. In either case, these vehicles no longer operate within factory specifications, making them ineligible for extended warranty protection.

Key Terms and FAQs Explained

Keep reading as we expand on other terms in a vehicle service contract and answer common questions.

  • Deductible: A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the warranty coverage kicks in. For example, suppose your warranty has a $100 per-visit deductible, and you bring your vehicle in for a transmission repair. In that case, you’ll need to pay $100 before the warranty company pays for covered repairs. So, if the total amounts to $4,000 in authorized work, the warranty covers $3,900.
  • Limit of Liability: The limit of liability refers to the maximum amount your warranty provider will pay for repairs during the contract period. In some cases, this may be a dollar amount or the value of your car, whichever is less. As a result, you may be responsible for any repairs that exceed this limit. For instance, a $5,000 limit of liability means you’ll have an out-of-pocket expense of $1,000 for a $6,000 transmission repair.
  • Parts Replacement vs. Repair: It’s typical for an extended warranty contract to discuss parts replacement versus repair. In other words, the warranty company can decide whether it’s better to fix or replace an existing component. This ability can speed up repairs if a new component is on backorder, and repairing the defective unit can get you back on the road more quickly.

Transmission Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are transmission fluids and other maintenance items covered under an extended warranty?

Generally, extended warranties do not cover routine maintenance items like transmission fluid unless your plan specifically includes maintenance coverage. Transmission fluid may be covered if its replacement is connected to an authorized repair.

Can I get transmission coverage for an older or high-mileage vehicle?

The availability of transmission coverage for older or high-mileage vehicles varies between providers and plans. Some extended warranty companies, like Endurance, offer plans for vehicles up to 20 years old or with up to 150,000 miles. The company has special programs for older and high-mileage cars that balance cost and coverage.

What should I do if my transmission fails and I have an extended warranty?

If your car’s transmission fails and you have extended warranty protection, the first step is to contact your warranty provider to report the issue and start the claims process. Your provider typically requires you to take your vehicle to an approved repair facility for diagnosis and repairs. But don’t take any action until instructed by the warranty company to do so. Ensure your warranty plan and any relevant maintenance records are on hand to speed up the claims process.

Are there any restrictions on where I can have my transmission repaired under an extended warranty?

Most extended warranties or car insurance policies require your vehicle to be repaired at an approved facility. This may include a dealership or a network of approved independent repair shops. Endurance customers can choose an ASE Certified mechanic or shop through the RepairPal Partner Network.

Do extended warranties cover transmissions?

Generally, yes. Most extended car warranties provide some type of transmission protection. The specific coverage varies by the type of warranty and the details in the fine print.

What is not covered under an extended vehicle warranty?

The vehicle service contract details specific transmission-related exclusions, but extended warranties typically don’t cover transmission repairs due to wear and tear, abuse, or neglect.

Is the cost of transmission repair covered by most extended warranties?

An extended warranty may cover all or some of a transmission repair, depending on the cause of the issue and the contract terms. In addition, a deductible may apply if that’s part of the plan.

Choosing the Right Plan: Tailored Transmission Protection

Getting an extended warranty to cover the transmission and other vital components can make a lot of sense. Here are key factors to review when considering the different options for Endurance.

Consider Your Vehicle’s Age, Mileage, and Condition

Think about the state of your car when weighing the different Endurance coverage options. A more customized option, such as the Premier plan, may be better for an older vehicle or one with high mileage due to an increased risk of transmission issues. In contrast, a basic powertrain might be better for a newer car with lower mileage, as the likelihood of significant transmission problems is lower.

Research Your Vehicle’s Transmission Reliability

Like it or not, some vehicles are more prone to transmission problems than others. Research sources like Consumer Reports, J.D. Power, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and to see where your car stands. Talk to a trusted mechanic or transmission specialist for their opinion. The higher the likelihood of transmission trouble, the greater the need for more expansive extended warranty coverage, like Endurance’s comprehensive Supreme plan.

Consider Your Budget and the Cost of Repairs

Ultimately, the right extended warranty decision comes from choosing a plan from Endurance or another provider that balances your budget and protection needs. A more comprehensive plan has higher upfront or monthly costs but can provide substantial savings in the event of major work like transmission repair. On the other hand, a more affordable vehicle service contract, like Endurance’s Secure or Secure Plus, provides essential covering and peace of mind.

Get in Gear With Vehicle Protection from Endurance

An Endurance auto protection plan can help cover your car’s transmission and other crucial systems in the event of a mechanical breakdown. You can also benefit from standard perks like 24/7 roadside assistance, towing rental car reimbursement, and travel interruption costs, which come with every Endurance vehicle service contract.

Get started by requesting a FREE quote or visiting the Endurance online store for instant price and plan details. For personalized help, call (800) 253-8203 to speak with an Endurance plan advisor.

Find more about extended warranty providers from our comparison series with CarShield, CARCHEX, Omega Auto Care, and other companies.

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