hypothetical: car self-destructs under warranty. who pays?

Suppose I have a newish car that’s still under warranty. Something catastrophic fails, e.g. a fuel line ruptures and a fire transforms the vehicle into a smoldering heap of ash. Does the manufacturer provide a brand-new replacement vehicle under the terms of the warranty, or does my car insurance compensate me for the fair market value of the vehicle just prior to the catastrophe?

It seems like it ought to be the manufacturer that pays out, but I’ve never heard of a case where a warranty claim resulted in replacement of an entire vehicle.

It depends on how the warranty is written. Most car companies, I should think, would want you to be happy and keep you as a customer. It also depends on how your car insurance factors in.

Bumper-to-bumper warranties are typically not part of the basic warranty, which, on my car, is for the powertrain.

Well, given that the ruptured fuel line (i.e. the primary cause of the fire that consumed the rest of the vehicle) is part of the powertrain, wouldn’t this be covered under the warranty?

I think powertrain refers to engine, transmission, cv joints, differential…

Just call dealership?

Huh? Did a car salesman tell you that? Were his lips moving?

These days many carmakers are including extremely long powertrain warranties standard, but they still have the normal short bumper-to-bumper ones as well.

It is an extra, like so many other things when you buy a new car.

This is a hypothetical, so I wasn’t going to waste the dealership’s time on it; I’d rather waste yours. :smiley:

But getting back to your statement…isn’t a fuel line part of the engine? Maybe not the one between the fuel tank and the engine, but maybe a crossover line between left and right fuel rails?

Let me move upward by one level of abstraction and suppose that “a part that is currently covered by warranty” fails and causes the total destruction of the vehicle. Will the manufacturer replace the entire vehicle with a brand new one at no charge? Even if it’s 35 months into a 36-month warranty?

Interesting question. I think this would be a recall, and they would have to pay.

Can you provide a cite of a new car that doesn’t come with a bumper to bumper warranty?

Many insurance companies over here advertise like-for-like replacement if you total the car in year one. How that would be resolved within a warranty I have no idea.

After year one, your insurance would only pay agreed market value. I think that to fight a manufacturer for a new car under their warranty would take some doing, but so long as you had complied with their terms to the letter (service, oil change etc.) and could prove that it was a faulty component that totalled the car, I am pretty sure that they would replace it.

People have succeeded in persuading manufacturers to replace a car that was so badly made that it was unacceptable. This has sometimes required picketing the franchise with a placard to embarrass them into action but it does sometimes happen.

Recalls are different - this is where a production and/or design defect is found and all of a particular model are ‘recalled’ to have it rectified. I just looked and was surprised to see that on average 45% of all new cars sold in the UK are subject to a recall.

With reference to the OP’s question - I suspect that if the car was subject to a recall, and had not be submitted for rectification, then the manufacturer might well wash his hands off it.

As an aside, anyone buying a used car would do well to check to see if it was subject to a recall, and if it was sorted.

Maybe there’d be a lemon law claim. “I brought the car in three times for the same issue (burned to the ground) and they still haven’t managed to fix it!”

They are for new cars. Used car warranties are typically very limited - they cover exactly what’s listed, decline coverage on everything listed as excluded, and everything else falls to “excluded unless you can beat us out of it.”

But new? Bumper to bumper including paint and comfort issues.

That said, a fuel leak leading to a fire would be paid by the insurance company, who might or might not seek mitigation from the maker.

Maybe the bumper to bumper can be extended for an additional cost. How long is the original b to b on a new car?

Typically 3-5 years and 10-12k miles per year (e.g. 3 years/36 months). Powertrain only sometimes runs longer. (I think Kia and Hyundai bought credence with early buyers with 10 year/100k powertrain warranties.) Emissions runs 7(?) years by federal law. Impact safety (bags and belts) might be 7 or 10.

Some manufacturers offer what is supposed to be an extension of the factory warranty, but it’s nearly always from a third party and contains many exclusions. They are also legendarily overpriced and very high profit for dealers. (But of course, they’re just a few dollars per month in the payments!)

Ah, I see mine, hyundai is 5/60, but it seems fairly limited. ‘Bumper to bumper’ doesnt really cover everything that one would expect.

Normal wear and tear and replaceables like brake pads are excluded by pretty much everyone. I’ve never seen (or at least had) a new car warranty that didn’t cover pretty much any problem for the base warranty period.

In fact, my warranties tended to cover extra stuff - the items that a dealership will only flag as “bad” and do something about if the owner asks/complains. Translation: I would take my vehicle in for service and the service writer would come in and say, “Yes, I see why you’re complaining about that cracked seat panel.” Or “You said you thought the headlights looked hazy?”

“Why, yes I did,” I would reply, and bam, new parts. (The headlights were 3+ years old and mildly hazy/yellow, and phee-fuggin-nominally expensive… but I guess there had been enough complaints that it had become a “replace on request” item.)

ETA: Anyway, it’s a step back and something I would watch in the unlikely case I buy another new car if warranties have gotten limited. (Last new car was 2005; we buy lease-returns and classics now.)

I was one if those people. I bought a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee that had major problems from day one. The front discs needed replacement every three thousand miles, the power windows stopped working for times in the first year and the computer managing the engine had to be replaced twice in the first year. It took months of calls and frustration to get Chrysler to take back the pile of crap. They gave us a credit towards another Chrysler product.

The sad part is, the Jeep they took back should have been crushed, but I did a VIN search on it about a year after they took it back and they moved it to Alabama (from Georgia) and sold it to some poor sap. I don’t know but I’m guessing they didn’t disclose the problems with it.

Funny thing is my wife had the same year and color Jeep when we got married. We still have it, 163,000 miles on it and not a bit of trouble. Well, the power steering failed a few months ago, but that’s normal wear and tear.

Here in the states we have “lemon laws” that require a dealer to replace or buy back a car that’s either been in the shop for a certain number of days or has been in the shop a certain number of times for the same issue. In practice, though, these days genuine “lemons” (as in a single car that for whatever reason has tons of problems) are pretty rare and lemon law claims tend to say more about the dealer’s service department than the manufacturer.