Are you looking into buying a used car and want to know its warranty status?

Are you wondering if your current car still has an active vehicle warranty?

Are you trying to guide a family member or friend through the car-buying process and want to check all the boxes?

Are you purchasing a pre-owned vehicle and want to check if there is still a warranty on it?

Whatever your reasons for being curious about the status of your extended warranty, here are four things you need to know to get the most accurate information about a car's warranty:

car warranty infographic: information from the graphic found in the article below

1. Look at your VIN number

Your car’s VIN number is necessary in order to find out if your car is still under warranty. A VIN number is a unique 17-digit code where each digit or group of digits has a meaning and is given to all vehicles driven in the United States.

A car’s VIN number can be located in the following locations on your car:

  • Lower left hand side of the dashboardLook at the left corner of your dashboard where the glass meets the dashboard.
  • Under the hoodPop the hood and check in front of the engine for a small metal plate with a number printed on it. 
  • Under the windshield wipersCheck on the outside front area of your car below the windshield wipers on the driver-hand side. 
  • Under the spare tireLift up your spare tire and check under the tire for your VIN number. The spare tire is typically located in the trunk of the car.
  • Driver’s-side doorOpen the door and the number will be found where the door latches or inside the doorjamb where the car side mirror is located when the driver door is shut. 
  • Wheel wellGo to the wheel well that surrounds the back tire on the driver’s side.

If you check these possible locations and you still can’t find your vehicle’s VIN number, try calling the dealership directly and asking where your specific car 's VIN number is located. Simply tell them the make and model of your car, and they should be able to tell your where the VIN number is located.

Other places to look for the VIN number include the vehicle’s title, registration card, and your insurance card. 

2. Check the miles driven on your car

To find the miles driven on your car check the odometer. The odometer is typically found behind the steering wheel. 

Odometer with Mileage Reading

3. Call the dealership

Whether you bought your car directly from the dealership or you bought it used, you can call the corresponding dealership of your car to find out when the car was originally purchased. Any dealership, for your specific make of car, can lookup when your vehicle was purchased no matter which location it was purchased from. Make sure to have the VIN number and the mileage of your car handy. The dealership should be able to determine what the warranty is on your car and if it is valid according to the information you provide.

Bryan Rodgers, owner of a dealer repair service stated, "Once you have your VIN, call your dealer and ask when your warranty expires, as they will have that information for you. If you really can't seem to find your VIN, simply drive your car to your dealer, and they'll help you find it and let you know then if you're under warranty or not."

Note that the warranty is also found in your vehicle’s owner manual, but it is wise to find out directly from the dealership instead of relying on what the warranty in the manual says. Consumers can purchase cars up to a year before the designated model year, so it is difficult to know when the exact date of purchase was without calling the dealership.

4. If needed, get a Carfax report on your car

If the dealership is not sure whether or not your car is still under a basic warranty then you can get a Carfax report on your car. Getting a Carfax is simple: go to Carfax and type in your VIN number or search by license plate and state.

Aside from your warranty information a Carfax report will also check for major accidents, open recalls, total loss, airbag deployment, service history, estimated miles driven per year, multiple owners, registration history, rebuilt, mileage rollover, hail damage, last reported mileage, vehicle service, mileage rollback, not actual mileage, lemon status, length of ownership, structural damage, state ownership, flood damage, salvage titles, junked, and commercial or personal use. The price of obtaining a Carfax for a single vehicle is $39.99.

What to do if your car warranty is expired 

If you call and find out that your car is not still under a limited warranty, we advise thinking about getting a new extended warranty. However, there are a number of different options available to you:

  • Follow your car maintenance schedule

One of the most important things to do is to follow your car’s maintenance schedule and to ensure that genuine parts are being used. Make sure to go the manufacturer's website before getting a repair to ensure that your mechanic has the parts that you need. Defects in materials can cause major damage to your car. You can find your car’s specific maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual or google to find your vehicle's correct owner's manual. Here’s a nearly comprehensive list of different car owner’s manuals.

  • Start a car repair fund

Start to set aside money every week or month and put it in a fund specifically set aside for unforeseen car repairs and regular car maintenance. Do not touch this account unless you use it for car service. You will be more prepared for planned and unplanned maintenance requirements for your vehicle.

  • Get a car warranty

For extra protection you can get an extended warranty on your car. This typically constitutes of a monthly cost and the protection against car repairs varies with the different type of car warranty you get. With a car warranty, you will be able to tailor it to fit your specific needs. Most don't cover routine maintenance from normal vehicle wear and tear but they often a car warranty covers major problems with your engine, battery, etc. The company will take care of much of the paperwork, and many of your necessary repairs will be covered by your warranty. Many car warranty companies provide this service apart from your car’s dealership and they often include extra service such as roadside assistance. Typically the dealership will have high fees and you can obtain a car warranty from other sources for less. Learn how you can get the same protection from other car warranty companies for a fraction of the price. 

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