What is included in the powertrain that's always referenced in warranties?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 2004

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a 2003 Hyundai Sonata LX. It comes with a 100,000-mile or 10-year warranty on the powertrain. My question is, what makes up a powertrain? I have received various answers to this question, but I am confused. Can you two mavens give me an answer? -- Sid

RAY: Sure, Sid. We'd be happy to confuse you some more. The problem is that "powertrain" (or "drivetrain," as it's sometimes called) is not a precise term. But it generally refers to those parts of the car that are crucial in delivering power to the wheels.

TOM: That would include the engine, the transmission, the differential and the axles.

RAY: It would not, for example, include the rearview mirror, the air conditioner or the seats.

TOM: But a general definition won't do you much good. What you need is Hyundai's definition. You should be able to find it in the warranty statement that came with your new car. If not, you can ask the dealer for a copy.

RAY: Different manufacturers may define the powertrain differently when it comes to warranty coverage. For instance, one might cover the cylinder heads but not the electrical parts of the engine, like the alternator or computer. It might include the transmission, but most exclude the clutch, since that's a "wear" item that the driver "wears out."

TOM: So, even though you have an excellent warranty on this car, including five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage before the powertrain- only warranty even takes over, you need to read the fine print. In fact, if you look up "fine print" in the dictionary, it probably says, "See automotive warranty."

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