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August 20, 2022  |  Education

How long do warranties last?

When you buy a product, a warranty comes with it. However, there are different types of warranties, so not all the conditions are the same. Some are dictated by the manufacturer, while others are put in place by the state. It is impossible to say how many years a warranty lasts because all warranties are different.

If you are curious about the duration of warranties, you need to understand how the different warranties work. You also need to learn about other agreements, such as a service contract, to know what to expect. Once you understand the difference between all of these items, and you know which type of warranty you have, you will be able to figure out how long your warranty lasts.

How many types of warranties are there?

In the broadest scope, there are two main types of warranties: an implied warranty and an express warranty. Each warranty can be further divided into two categories: a full warranty and a limited warranty. The length of a full warranty will often be different than the length of a limited warranty. Furthermore, there may be conditions in a limited warranty that further shorten how long it lasts.

Implied vs. express warranty

Implied warranty

An implied warranty is created by state law. Its purpose is to protect the buyer from purchasing faulty merchandise. The first part of an implied warranty is called the implied warranty of merchantability. This means that when a consumer purchases an item, such as a vacuum cleaner, they can rest assured that the product will do what it should: lift dirt from your floors.

The second part of an implied warranty is called the implied warranty of the fitness of a product. This is a little more specific than the first part. If you purchased a vacuum because it was advertised as being suitable for hardwood floors, but when you brought it home you found out it only worked on low pile carpets, the product isn’t capable of performing as you were told. An implied warranty means you won’t get stuck with a model that doesn’t perform as promised.

Express warranty

An express warranty is created by the warrantor, which is usually the manufacturer. It is voluntary — a manufacturer does not have to create an express warranty. If a manufacturer does not offer an express warranty, it must abide by the conditions set forth by the state in the implied warranty.

An express warranty may be spoken or written. This means advertising claims are part of an express warranty. If a commercial promises teeth whitening strips will make your teeth five shades whiter, the product must do that. It is often in the best interest of a manufacturer to create an express warranty because it means the company sets the rules, not the state.

Full vs. limited warranty

According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which was passed in 1975, every product that costs more than $10 must be designated as having either a full or a limited warranty. This lets the consumer know, at a glance, what to expect from the warranty.

Full warranty

Five conditions must be met for a warranty to be considered a full warranty:

  1. The duration of the implied warranty is not limited in any way.
  2. The warranty can be transferred between owners.
  3. There is no charge for the warranty.
  4. If the product cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer has the option of receiving a full refund or a replacement.
  5. The consumer is not required to do anything to receive the benefits of the warranty.

Limited warranty

If any one (or more) of the conditions required by a full warranty is not met, the product must clearly state that it has a limited warranty.

What stipulates the length of different warranties?

Warranties can last from just a few months to an entire lifetime. The following tips will help you understand how long your warranty lasts and why:

  • If you have a full implied warranty, it doesn’t matter what the manufacturer claims; it lasts as long as the state says it lasts. While coverage varies from state to state, four years is average. To learn exactly how long an implied warranty lasts in your state, contact your state’s consumer protection office.
  • If you have an express written warranty, it lasts for as long as the manufacturer says it lasts. This can be as long or as short as the manufacturer wishes. While a manufacturer is free to offer a brief warranty, longer coverage gives a consumer faith in a product and gives that manufacturer a competitive edge.
  • If your product has a limited warranty, certain actions may dramatically affect the length of your warranty. If a product changes ownership, for instance, a limited warranty can declare that moment to be the end of the coverage.


An extended warranty does not extend your product warranty

An extended warranty is not a product warranty. A product warranty is an agreement made between the manufacturer and the consumer at the time of purchase. It comes free with the product. If the manufacturer does not provide a warranty in writing, in most cases, your item is still covered because the state sets the parameters of an implied warranty.

An extended warranty, however, is a service that you buy. It may or may not cover the same things as your original product warranty. Because of this, it is better to think of an extended warranty as an insurance policy rather than an extension of your original warranty.

FAQ

Is there such a thing as a lifetime warranty?

A. Yes. There are a few manufacturers that offer a full warranty that truly does last for a lifetime.

Is a limited warranty bad?

A. No. Just because you are purchasing an item that only offers a limited warranty, it does not make that product inferior. Many high-quality products only offer a limited warranty. However, a limited warranty can be a red flag. Do your homework before purchasing — read the warranty and the reviews. 

Does a consumer have to activate a warranty?

A. If a manufacturer is offering a limited warranty, there may be a stipulation for activating a warranty. This may entail filling out a registration card or some other small task. 

What happens if a manufacturer fails to honor its express written warranty?

A. A warranty is a contract between the consumer and the manufacturer. If the manufacturer fails to honor its warranty, the consumer can file a claim for breach of contract.

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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