Federal Emissions Warranties Are Often Forgotten or Overlooked When Your Vehicle Needs Repairs

many consumers pay for or put off needed repairs because they don't realize the problem is covered by this warranty

Federal Emissions Warranties Are Often Forgotten or Overlooked
Image: Pixabay
April 16, 2019

What is the federal emissions warranty and what does it cover? If you don't know, you're not alone. Most people don't know about the federal emissions warranty, let alone the provisions of the law that allow you to have free repairs for certain emission-related defects. If you're one of those people, don't spend money needlessly or going without free repairs to your vehicle's emission system.

What Is an Emissions Warranty?

The law applies to vehicles manufactured since 1995, including used vehicles, repaired at an authorized dealer service facility.

If you live in an area of the state that has mandatory smog testing, or I/M (Inspection and Maintenance) testing, you are eligible for free repairs for your vehicle if the vehicle fails to pass the inspection because of the failure of a covered component.

Performance Warranty

If your vehicle fails an emissions test during the first two years or 24,000 miles from when the vehicle is first put into service, whichever comes first and regardless of ownership, the law requires the manufacturer to make any repairs necessary to allow your vehicle to pass the emissions test.

Exclusions to the performance Warranty

The requirement of the manufacturer to bring your vehicle into compliance excludes wreck damage and tampering. Also, anything with a specified replacement interval, such as filters, are covered only up to the first replacement interval. Afterwards, if a failure to pass an inspection is caused by a replacement part that is beyond its replacement interval, you are responsible for the repairs to bring it into compliance.

Items Covered under the performance warranty

  • Air system controls
  • Catalytic converters
  • Distributor and distributor components
  • Electronic fuel injection system and injectors
  • Evaporative-emission canister and controls
  • Exhaust manifold
  • Exhaust gas recirculation valve and control system
  • Exhaust pipes (between exhaust manifold and catalyst)
  • Fuel cap and tank assembly
  • Pump and fuel lines
  • Ignition coil and ignition module
  • Intake manifold
  • On-board diagnostic-system components
  • Oxygen sensors
  • Positive crankcase-ventilation (PCV) valve or orifice
  • Powertrain control module
  • Secondary ignition wires
  • Spark plugs
  • Throttle body
  • Transmission-control module
  • Vacuum hoses, clamps, and fittings, as well as tubing used for these components
  • Vacuum, temperature, altitude, speed, time-sensitive valves, sensors, and switches used in these components and systems.

Design and Defect Warranty

Specified major emission control components are generally covered for 8 years / 80,000 miles from when the vehicle is first put into service, whichever comes first and regardless of ownership. The specified major emissions control components covered by this warranty are specified in the Clean Air Act and are the only components subject to this warranty. The specified major emission control components only include the catalytic converters, the electronic emissions control unit or computer (ECU) and related emissions-related software, and the onboard emissions diagnostic (OBD) device or computer. Some manufacturers may cover additional components. For details, consult your vehicle's warranty manual.

Vehicles with California emissions equipment have an additional warranty of 7 years / 70,000 miles from when the vehicle is first put into service, whichever comes first and regardless of ownership, that covers additional components not covered by the federal warranty.

Private companies May Say You Have No Warranty

Some companies may try to tell you that if your check engine light comes on after your bumper-to-bumper warranty expires that you have no choice but to pay for the repair, which isn't necessarily true. While there is a chance you may end up having to fork out some cash for the repair, there is also a chance you'll have the repair performed free of charge if you have a covered emissions component that failed.

How Do I Find Out If My Vehicle Is Covered?

The easiest way to find out if an emission component is covered under warranty is to contact your local dealer. The dealer can look up warranty information, including any complimentary warranties you don't know about. You will need to provide your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).