By on September 7, 2006

x07pt_6c00613222.jpgIt's clear that GM's new powertrain warranty– 5 years, 100k miles– has set TTAC tongues wagging. To get on top of the story, I phoned Philip Reed, Consumer Advice Editor at Reed has written a book called Strategies for Smart Car Buyers, which covers the entire car buying process: selling, leasing, buying, used cars, certified cars, the whole schmeer. Reed knows what's what when it comes to warranties and, equally important, their value to both customer and manufacturer. According to Reed, GM's announcement could well be a great landing at the wrong airport.  

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57 Comments on “The Truth About GM’s New Powertrain Warranty...”

  • avatar

    Note: “GM’s new 100,000 Mile Warranty coverage is a fully transferable five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty with no deductible. GM also has decided to expand its roadside assistance and courtesy transportation programs to match the powertrain warranty term. Altogether, it’s the best coverage in the auto industry.” from the GM website.

    It’s 100K and free roadside assistance…pretty nice.

  • avatar

    I’ll weigh in more on this later, when I have ten minutes to listen to a podcast.

    On the 5/100 warranty: for people who drive less than 12,000 miles a year the impact will be minimal, as nearly every competitor now offers a 5/60 powertrain warranty. This was an easy way for GM to get the magic “100,000” in ads. A transferable 7/100 would be a real step ahead, especially if combined with a 4/50 or 5/60 BtB.

    Also note that the warranty covers engine, transmission and drivetrain internals, plus the water pump (and timing belt if it fails before the first scheduled replacement). Things it does not cover:

    — alternator
    — sensors, other engine electrical
    — fuel injectors and fuel system
    — EGR valve, PCV

    While much less expensive to fix than a failed transmission, the above things are also far more likely to fail within the first 100,000 miles.

    The courtesy transportation, while a nice touch, only applies if the repair is covered by the warranty.

    Bob Lutz in his blog said that GM offered this warranty because it could. That is, GM’s powertrains are so dependable that the cost of offering the warranty is low.

    Does this mean that the reason GM does not offer a longer BtB warranty is because it cannot?

  • avatar

    FYI: Powertrain Warranties

    Honda – 5 years 60k
    Ford – 5 years, 60k
    Lexus – 4 years, 50k
    Chrysler – 7 years, 70k
    Mercedes – 4 years, 50k

  • avatar

    RF, I posted this thought in the other thread and would like your take on it:

    “RF reported that GM reduced its estimate of its annual warranty liability per vehicle. I wonder if that was to support the extended warranty program.”

    While the annual cost per vehicle would drop, the total liability over the extended warranty period must still be accrued.

  • avatar

    Please report on any inaccuracies about industry warranties here:

    The debate could go on about GM’s execution on the warranties (Hey! Why doesn’t GM trump the competition with a 5.5 year/200K mi warranty? Or a 3.2 year/37,000 mi b2b warranty?!!!!).

    But GM’s effort to address the resale value of their cars is commendable. They’ve cut fleet sales by about 20% in recent months (compared to last year) and the “transferrable” part of their new warranty is in principle superior to some of their competitors.

    If one is to dismiss GM’s 5/100K warranty as hyperbole, then what about Hyundai’s non-transferable 10/100K warranty?

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    many of those Items you listed are covered already to 100,000 as they are emission related ( ie Fuel injectors,egr,catylyst and many sensors) PCV is considered a wear and tear item as alternator and some fuel system items.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    I will fully expect Toyota to follow suit – they’re getting pressure from two sides of its market – GM and Hyundai – and they will need to overcome the perception impact of their recent recalls and headlines citing Japanese government wrist-slapping. I’d be more surprised at anything less.

    All of this is good for us.

  • avatar

    I wonder if Ford will follow suit. It would have helped me a few months ago when the transmissions on both my Contour SE Sport and my wife’s Windstar failed well before 100,000 miles within weeks of each other and became too expensive to fix.

    We are now a Ford-Free-Family and now drive BMW and Lexus and are not looking at “Detroit Drivetrains” in the forseeable future – the effect rubs off on all of the big three as far as I’m concerned.

  • avatar

    Hey Joe C
    Toyota , like many of the other Japanese automakers, will follow its time-honored strategy of staying the course, it is what has got them to where they are now. Besides, unless you’re an owner of one of Toyota’s recently recalled vehicles you probably don‘t know that their quality has suffered this year. After all, (word of mouth) public perception takes years to swing either negatively or positively towards a brands ‘perceived’ quality.

    As for GM, I find this warranty to be very promising. I just bought I brand new Hyundai Accent, about two months ago. If the Cobalt, G5 or Ion had this warranty then, I would have spent more time looking at them.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Robert: You forgot one: Subaru has had a 5/60 powertrain for years. This I know because when I bought my 99 Outback Wagon with 42k on the clock, a trip to the dealer (complete with a printout!) indicated that it still had 18k or 2 years left on the powertrain coverage. Of course, it’s a cheap bargain for them, since Subarus typically last well into the 100k range (mine is at 114k and running fine.)

  • avatar

    I will fully expect Toyota to follow suit – they’re getting pressure from two sides of its market – GM and Hyundai – and they will need to overcome the perception impact of their recent recalls and headlines citing Japanese government wrist-slapping. I’d be more surprised at anything less.

    All of this is good for us.

    ……I agree that improving competition is better for all of us but what negative perception of Toyota are you talking about? Their sales were up 17% last month, and 95% of the general public doesnt pay attention to any manufacturer recall unless it effects something sitting in their driveway.

  • avatar

    Did I hear correctly? Philip Reed of said Toyota’s entire warranty is only 3 years/36 K miles.

    This is wrong. The bumper-to-bumper warranty is 3/36, but the powertrain warranty is 5 years/60 K miles, and has been since at least the 1997 model year.

    I would assume then, Robert, that the Lexus powertrain warranty is at least as long, if not longer (not 4/50 as you stated above).

    And Mark, that’s a good point about the recall issues — my 3 former and current Camrys have had 2 recalls IN TOTAL over the past 9 years. My ’98 Frontier has had one, and that wasn’t even safety-related! Japan rules!

  • avatar

    Does anyone else find it amusing that its also the same lifespan of Dex-Clog i mean Dex cool

  • avatar

    Hello Robert!
    Somehow, I feel GM is selling you a warranty, Toyota etc sells CARS.
    GM talks employee pricing, fire-sale prices, “The Heartbeat of America”…meanwhile the Japanese brands tout engineering, quality, resale value, economy of operation, innovation and desireability, in short, t
    I guess in lieu of all that , warranty is all GM CAN offer.
    Unspoken I read this as GM saying “WHEN you have a powertrain problem, we’ll take care of it.”
    Toyota says..”Relax! Youre getting a Toyota!”

  • avatar


    Lexus – 6 years / 70,000 miles
    Toyota – 5 years / 60,000 miles


    Hyundai – 10 years / 100,000 miles
    Kia – 10 years / 100,000 miles
    Mitsubishi – 10 years / 100,000 miles
    Suzuki – 7 years / 100,000 miles

  • avatar

    Would you believe that my warranty stats came from The New York Times? My how the grey lady has fallen.


  • avatar

    Robert, the Lexus warranty you quoted is bumper-to-bumper. Their powertrain warranty is 72 months/70,000 miles.

  • avatar

    Overall I am not impressed.

    Bumper-to-bumper warranty for 5/60 or 4/48 would impress me, but not this.

    A while back Chrysler (before they acquired Daimler to become Chrysler-Daimler) made a big deal about a 7/70 powertrain warranty. I read a dealer literature and was amazed by the stuff *not* covered. Also my experience in 25 years of new car ownership is I would have almost all non-powertrain claims.

    Also – how many people put 20k miles per year on their car? Some do – but not many.

    Doesn’t Hyundai offer a 5 year unlimited mileage bumper-to-bumper?

    Saying “we guarantee part of our cars for 5 years” is no big deal – and even worse comes across as a little disingenuous.

  • avatar

    Not only did they do the 5yr-100k, it is retroactive back to the very first 07 model sold this year. It’s not complaciency, it’s letting the market know that GM now builds a great product. How great of a product you ask? On JD Power & Associates latest 90 Day study GM grew in great lengths while both Honda and Toyota’s numbers came DOWN. Toyota’s numbers are so bad that, not only are they being investigated on criminal charges for failure to recall thousands of known faulty vehicles until after 6 people were injured, they are delaying production on new models until they CORRECT CURRENT RELIABILITY ISSUES. Here’s a shocker “Toyota is not the alls all that ends all” they are human too.

  • avatar

    Also please note: Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubushi, and Suzuki are limited in transferrability, charge a transfer fee, or are only transferrable to someone in the same household. Most of them are limited on their Roadside assistance and courtesy transportation. FYI… The last Honda I owned was a 2000 Honda Accord EXL. After I had it for about a year Honda sent me a letter in the mail basically stating “We manufactured faulty transmissions in vehicles equipped with a 2.3L 4cyl and an automatic transmission between 99-01. If your car brakes we will fix it up until 100k miles” I guess my moral to that story is They all brake. GM is letting the population know that they are confident enough to stand behind their product.

  • avatar

    Lots of misinfo here.

    First, Bubba Gump. The emissions warranty covers very little after the first 2/24. Only the catalytic converter and a pair of control modules are covered for 8/80. Nothing is covered for 100,000, at least not nationwide (CA might have different rules). The details:

    Second, the Lexus powertrain warranty is, as some have said, 6/70.

    Third, Chrysler started a non-transferable 7/70 in the spring of 2002, then made it transferable a few months later. I learned this the hard way: I bought my wife’s PT Cruiser thinking I had a 7/70, because the seller honestly thought it was transferable, but the car was one of the cars in between the two dates. This warranty has a $100 deductible. Chrysler is discontinuing it after 2006 MY because it’s research showed it wasn’t helping sell cars.

    Until GM’s action, the industry was convering on a 3/36 BtB plus a 5/60 PT, which Toyota, Nissan, and Subaru have offered for a long time. Now it is possible that the PT will because 5/100.

    Hyundai’s BtB is 5/60. The 10/100 PT is not transferable. Second owner gets 5/60.

    Dude with the failed Contour transmission: that car is more than five years old. This warranty would not have covered it. I am surprised Ford didn’t go 50/50. Ford’s transmission are far less solid than GM’s.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    I’m curious about the reaction of the GM dealer to this program. The dealer isn’t likely to like it. Why? Two reasons: 1. The dealer probably won’t sell more cars to make up for lost gross profit from lower service contract sales in the F&I department 2. The dealer will also receive less to fix cars from the factory than they otherwise would have from the customer (when the car is out of warranty).

    I don’t think the reliability issue is sending customers elsewhere, so I’m not convinced this will slow the exodus to franchises selling more desirable models.

  • avatar

    Only on this website would GM extending their powertrain warranty be considered a negative thing to do.

    Americans seem to be really good at self-loathing anymore – I think it is a product of a public school education.

  • avatar

    I’m personally not being negative. I just think it’s possible to overstate the significance of this development.

    This warranty will have a minimal impact on GM dealers’ service business. Most repairs before 100,000 miles are for something other than the items covered.

  • avatar
    Jan Andersson

    How about this for reliability:

    one Subaru Outback 1999, six years old, averaging 435 miles a day, now at 500K (!) with original engine, gearbox, exhaust and shocks? And most of the miles towing a caravan/trailer! It has been served 60 times at the same dealership. Rear wheel bearings and some front diff bearings are changed, and the engine head gasket at 423K.

  • avatar
    Critical Thinker

    I am one of those whose time is limited and who reads far faster than he listens. Although I am sure that quite a few persons prefer the podcast, I prefer the text version.

    Does anyone else share this sentiment?

  • avatar

    Isnt the warranty tacked in to the price of the car anyway?

    Sure you get award winning service with Lexus, but arent you paying for that service on the front end?

    All vehicles are fallible, I just want the service to kick in like a migrain.

  • avatar

    Call me old-fashioned; I am in my 20’s and prefer the text as well.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Given your, ahem, past differences with I am surprised that anyone affiliated with the site would answer your phone call. Good work!

  • avatar

    Another vote for text. The whole concept of “Podcast” will be lampooned on VH1’s “I love the 00’s” in a few years anyway.

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    This whole move from the General reminds me of Hyundai’s behaviour back in the mid-nineties. They had a terrible quality image so they began offering great warranties and zero percent financing for anyone. They, like GM today, sold mere ‘appliances’ based on price and warranty, not the content of their products. Hyundai of today can now sell their products based on the products themselves. It took a decade, but the Sonata can now stand toe to toe with a Camry. Maybe in ten years time an Impala will be up to par with a Camry? I have nothing against the domestics, but they need to get back into the business of selling VEHICLES! Not warranties, employee pricing, or 0% financing deals. I don’t get passionate about a 5 yr warranty, but I would get passionate about a great product.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    The biggest question that begs for an answer:

    How badly will this new warranty will cut into the profits dealers make off those grossly overpriced extended warranties they love to browbeat new car buyers into paying for?

  • avatar

    I’m with Jeff.

    I think this is a good thing for GM, as they’ll benefit from the perception that they believe in their cars. I don’t see a downside. My experience has been that almost any car these days can go 5 years trouble free. Of course, all I buy are Hondas.

    But as Jeff said, in the long run, it’s about the product. Jef”s right on about Hyundai. They had the warranty crutch for a while, but now the Sonata, Azera, Entourage, and new Santa Fe are right there with Honda and Toyota. I doubt Toyota and Honda worry too much about Ford and GM but I’d bet they’re far more worried about Hyundai.

  • avatar

    Frank, Frank, Frank….

    They’ll just up the prices on GAP and I bet they’ll still sell lots of extended warranties. They’ll cover the non-powertrain stuff, and since the warranty will be cheaper to the dealer, their margin on the ones they sell will be even bigger!

  • avatar

    I can agree with GM drivetrains being solid. With the four GM cars I’ve had experience with, model years 78-94, the engines and transmissions were pretty solid. No issues with them. Alternators, starters, ECMs, power steering units, tie-rods, radiators, etc were a different story. All this stuff started failing in the 90-110k mileage range. I’m hoping I don’t have the same issues with my Yukon when it’s mileage gets up there. GM trucks seem to be built to a better degree of reliability, but if it does least I can fix a lot of that stuff myself since there is so much room to work under the hood.

    Speaking of Ford, if they had a long term drivetrain warranty they’d probably go broke.

    But back to GM. The writers here like to rag on GM for their old engine designs and 4-speed automatic trannies, but if GM would wise up they could use those outdated designs to their advantage. If GM could manage to build a car that doesn’t fall apart around the drivetrain they could end up with a long term reliability reputation on par with Toyota, Honda, and Subaru. Most customers would buy them and love them regardless of how bland the cars are. Most customers don’t really care about how many gears the auto tranny has as long as there’s an overdrive in there somewher. As long as their GM transportation appliance gets them from point A to point B and back with little to no fuss they’d be happy and they’d be more likely to come back to GM when they want to buy a new one.

  • avatar

    OFF TOPIC->regarding: Pocast versus Text

    Between audio and text, I prefer text.

    If it is a choice between nothing and audio, I choose audio.

    I’m sure transcribing these (sometimes with plenty of witty banter) is a bear in terms of time and effort.

    When anyone in the TTAC community gets a chance/the motivation, just post a topic list and links or both.

    >> I prefer the text version.
    >>Does anyone else share this sentiment?

  • avatar

    I prefer text as well. There are three problems with sticking with text:

    1. Audio is popular. We’ve received over 3k in new subs through iTunes.

    2. Audio is quick. I could get the Edmunds guy on line in ten minutes. A rant takes at least two hours to produce.

    3. Audio is cheap. Transcribing these things takes money we don’t have. Yet.


  • avatar

    Audio is a hassle to deal with at work. The text version I can read without my boss noticing.

  • avatar


  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The value of a warranty is totally dependent on the integrity of the company behind it. Ford refused repairs to our year-old car consuming a quart of oil per 600-miles because it was “normal”.

  • avatar

    Transcriptions are plenty cheap (Like, just a few bucks each cheap) through or (which uses MTurk, I think).

    Not affiliated with either, just amazed how cheap the transcriptions are through them.

  • avatar

    RF…try Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred 9 voice regognition software. Once loaded it does a reasonable job of cutting down transcription times. Just edit and roll it out

  • avatar

    I read faster than I listen R.F. I prefer text.

  • avatar

    Did I really hear the eloquent, learned Mr. Farago pronounce Hyundai as “Hi-un-day?”


  • avatar

    I’m surprised at the responses (here) to GM’s 5/100 powertrain warranty.

    DCX had the right idea with the 7/100 – 7/70 they ‘tried’ but they didn’t follow through. They were originally just extended warranties given for free. Then the 7/70 which wasn’t transferrable, then was, then wasn’t, then was but only once and for $100. Then it was only on privately owned vehicles, not rentals. So no one ever knew for sure whether their car had it or didn’t and whether it was transferrable or not. What an aborted attempt.

    Hyundai and Kia *needed* to have 100,000 mile warranties to overcome their stigma of being nothing more than disposable cars. It seemed to work, especially for Hyundai. But read the fine print of either Korean’s warranty and it is full of holes, and NOT transferrable. So much for building resale/residual values.

    Ford’s recent 60K powertrain simply matches (copies?) Toyota and Nissan.

    GM’s attempt is simple and bold. Seals and gaskets are covered. Timing belt failures are covered. Roadside assistance is included. Courtesy transportation is included. It is 100% transferrable without limits. It follows the car, not the owner — you don’t need to DO anything to transfer it.

    The gripes about courtesy transportation only covering warrantable claims are foolish. I can’t think of any manufacturer that treats it any differently at any point during their warranties, b2b or pt.

  • avatar

    —Suzuki – 7 years / 100,000 miles—

    That Suzuki waranty is very interesting since the new ’07 XL7 will use GM’s 3.6 liter V6 and 6 speed auto trans.

  • avatar

    —Did I really hear the eloquent, learned Mr. Farago pronounce Hyundai as “Hi-un-day?”

    Shocking. —

    The proper pronounciation (as told to me by my “Seoul” brother) is “HYUN-dai” , two syllables with the first part accented and said as one syllable.

  • avatar

    I’ve been kicking about GM upping their warantees for a while now.

    I guess it could have been better, but I see it as a positive step.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Where does this leave Ford? Ford just released a barrage of National tv ads that tout they are the best engine warranty in the busines(50,000 miles) I’m sure they were written before GM blew off their roman candle of 100,000 miles. It seems embarrassing to be a nickel short and five minutes late as in Ford. By the way I knew salesmen who did 60-70,000 per year and would get some use out of a 5/100,000 mile warranty, at least for the first two years they owned the car.

  • avatar

    Refresh my memory. Didn’t GM (just a few months ago) reduce their future “warrantee claim fund” by a few hundred dollars per vehicle in order improve their bottom line. Now, after reducing the amount of money set aside for future warrantee claims, they extend the powertrain warrantee from 3/36 to 5/100??

  • avatar

    If/when there is actual additional cost to support the longer warranty period, I’d rather see the money go there than to lame-ass advertising campaigns. If I even catch wind of “Dr. W.”, I’m quitting and going off to live in the woods. Hopefully my family will join me.

    Now we just need to revamp our dealer service and brand “customer service” networks to make the longer warranty an actual strategy and not just an expensive tactical blip.

  • avatar

    I’d rather see money go towards the extra cost of this program than lame-ass advertising campaigns.

    Now we just need to revamp our dealer service and brand “customer service” networks so this becomes an actual long-term strategy – not an expensive tactical blip.

  • avatar

    Here is part of what I posted on another review here at TTAC.

    “Anyone who is biased against American-made cars is going to continually trash and degrade them no matter what anyone says or does. They will stick with their foreign cars to the death. They are called die-hards. Then you have people who are on the opposite end of the spectrum, those that will only buy American-made cars and would never in a thousand years touch a foreign made car. They are also called die-hards. Then you have yet another class, those that teeter in the middle, not on one end or the other, those people that will buy a car because of either it’s price, a good smooth ride, or because they need something to drive.”

    From what I’m reading here as well, this part of my statement applies here too. I am one of those people in the middle who doesn’t care about what he drives, as long as it’s a car. What I can tell you is this, GM did this 5/100 warranty because for the first time in a long time, they are willing and able to stand behind the cars they make. They know that they are making better cars and have adjusted themselves accordingly. It seems people have lost faith in GM, and I can’t say I blame them. I grew up with my dad owning Fords and Dodges, while all my mom drove was GMs. Now, my mom drives a Kia, what does that tell you? She lost faith in GM a long time ago, after driving a 88 Pontiac Sunbird, a 91 Chevy Lumina Eurosport, and a 97 Geo Prism, all of which had major problems around 75k and didn’t last till 100k. My first car was a 97 Saturn SL2 and had 98k when the engine blew. So, I know full well why people have lost trust in GM, but if anyone has the capacity to turn themselves around, it’s GM. They have made a lot of progress, but still have a long way to go. Toyota is a worldwide company, based out of Japan that makes one set of cars for every market they sell in. Honda is the same. GM, however, while being a worldwide company, they have different products for every market they sell in. It was a wise idea on their part, for this exact reason. Now they are pulling from their other divisions and markets to improve this one. Have faith, if anyone can come through, it’s GM.

  • avatar

    “We are now a Ford-Free-Family and now drive BMW and Lexus and are not looking at “Detroit Drivetrains” in the forseeable ”

    I had a 2005 5 series sedan that power window went bad at 88,000. I traded it and we are now a BMW free family with 2 Chevy’s in the driveway. I wiull not buy an Audi, BMW, Porsche or Bentley as I feel the “European Electronics” is shared by the entire continent.

  • avatar

    I stumbled across this thread for information on the GM Certified used car 100k mile powertrain warranty. I find it amusing so many choose to say the new longer warranty is meaningless. I also like how people say, if you don’t drive 20k miles a year it’s a negative even though it’s still five years. It looks like the average miles driven per year for a car 5 years old or newer is 15k miles. A large % of people do drive 20k miles a year. And those that don’t still have the 5 years. How about the person that only drives 10k miles a year, are they getting a benefit? Certainly, the car is covered for 5 years and if they sell it in 3 years the next person automatically gets the remaining 2 years and 70k miles. Is that an attractive incentive to a buyer that drives 30k miles a year, you bet. Others say it’s a negative because the power train doesn’t break. Is that a backhanded compliment? Others talk about how it’s a band aid for the weak. Let’s look at some recent data. In 2007 Toyota has already had to recall 533,417 vehicles compared to Ford’s 128,163 and Chevrolet’s 4,829. In 2005 Toyota had to recall more vehicles than it built (2.2 million). They recalled 1.76 million in 2006. The benchmark Camry hasn’t been awarded best in class since 2000. Even back in 2004 the Wall street Journal as well as others reported things such as “Reliability has narrowed in some segments and disappeared while quality problems were mushrooming. In 2005 when I was researching a new vehicle for my parents I was shocked to see the Malibu rated ahead or equal to Camry in every area and rated better overall. (JD Powers) Even Consumer Reports rated Regal ahead of the Camry, Accord and Maxima for reliability in 2004. We all have preferences and come to the table with a pre-determined mindset. Why not just try having an honest discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of ALL vehicles. Make no mistake, there is no vehicle or manufacture that is perfect. 

  • avatar

    I am interested in seeing the longer term impact this will have on the aftermarket industry….

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