How to Check if a Car Is Still Under Warranty

There are many instances when you would want to check whether a car is still protected under the original manufacturer’s warranty. For instance, you are looking to purchase a used car and must find out when the vehicle was purchased and how many miles it had on it, as this is when the warranty began. Or you might have bought your vehicle brand new, but it’s hard to keep track of warranty terms. 

Read on to find out how to check if a car is still protected by the manufacturer’s warranty. That said, this industry knowledge article will cover the original warranty only. If you’ve purchased an extended warranty plan when you bought your vehicle new, you’ll need to reach out to the warranty provider to learn about your specific terms.

How to Check if a Car Is Still Under Manufacturer’s Warranty

A manufacturer warranty is also called a factory warranty. This standard warranty usually covers components that break down due to defects in factory-installed parts. At the least as standard, the majority of vehicles on the road today come with a three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, whichever comes first. It is offered on new vehicles as well as certified pre-owned vehicles.

And remember that different parts of your car may be covered under different warranties. For example, many new vehicles come with the common 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which cover major components of the engine and transmission. Some models offer some extra warranties, including a seat belt warranty and a rust warranty. 

how to check car warranty
Check your car warranty with a vehicle history report. Source: Auto-Trader

Find Your VIN Number & Odometer

The very first step in checking your original warranty is to do a VIN lookup, also called a vehicle history check. You can get a VIN check online from a number of third-party vendors such as AutoCheck and Carfax.

Every vehicle comes with a unique VIN Number (Vehicle Identification Number), which is a 17-character combination of letters and numbers. The VIN report contains every important piece of information about a particular vehicle, including the vehicle type, the manufacturer, the country of origin, even the production plant where it was produced, whether it came out of the factory with any manufacturing defects affecting its safety, value or utility, and much more. And for used vehicles, the VIN check will also tell you everything that would affect the vehicle’s value, including maintenance records, if it has been in any accident or sustained any material damages.

For legal purposes, every vehicle would feature VIN plates or stickers in several easy-to-see spots so it can be identified. The VIN can easily be found:

  • An embossed plate on the driver’s side of the dashboard, , just under the wiper blade, either at the very front end of the dash or just outside the front of the glass.
  • A sticker under the latch on the driver’s side door or sometimes inside the driver’s door jamb or next to the side view mirror.
  • A plate in the rear driver’s-side wheel well.
  • A plate or a sticker underneath the spare tire bay in the trunk.
  • A plate under the hood in front of the engine compartment, often next to the hood latch for easy visibility.

Or if somehow you can’t find the VIN in these spots, you can check your car’s paperwork, including vehicle registration, title document and insurance card, all of which would include your VIN number. You can also call your local dealer, give them your car’s year and model, and they will tell you exactly where to find the VIN on your car.

Once you know your VIN number, the next step is to check the odometer to find out how many miles your car has been driven. The mileage is crucial since most manufacturer’s warranties only provide protection up to a certain mileage limitation, such as the 3-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and the 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

You can find the odometer behind your steering wheel. It can be either mechanical or electrical. With electrical odometers, you may need to turn on the car so that your dashboard illuminates and displays the mileage.


Call Your Local Dealership

Now that you have learned your VIN number and mileage, all you need to do is call a dealership and ask if your vehicle’s warranty is still active. Any dealer for your manufacturer should be able to provide you with this information.  

If you can’t find a VIN number, you can drive to the dealership,and they should have all the necessary information to give you a clear answer.

If All Else Fails, Run A CARFAX Report

If all else fails, CARFAX would be your best bet. Carfax is a paid third-party service that finds your vehicle’s history. You can search by VIN number or enter your license plate number and state the vehicle is registered in. 

CARFAX provides reports on your vehicle by searching through state DMV databases and dealer records as well as insurance records. Sometimes the information for the warranty will be on the vehicle history report, and whether the provider of the warranty is a prestigious company or not.

But Don’t Rely On Your Manual

Although your vehicle’s manual would typically have information about the warranty terms and conditions, you should not rely on it as a source of information. This is because the warranty doesn’t become active on the date of manufacture or the model year, but on the date of purchase. 

For instance, you own a 2015 model year car, which you bought in Summer 2017. It comes with a five-year warranty, so starting from the actual date of purchase, it would expire in Summer 2022, instead of 2020 (if you’re counting 5 years from 2015).

Remember: Avoid Getting Your Warranty Void

One important thing to note is that manufacturer warranties are not unconditional. To be able to claim your warranty, you need to maintain your car to the manufacturer’s specifications.

The best way is to follow the recommended maintenance schedule specified in your owner’s manual. Routinely have your car serviced, get your oil and fluid changes and all other recommended maintenance. Also, before you have any major modifications performed on your car, do check if such a change would void the warranty.