Does car insurance cover a bad engine?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 26, 2016

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Car insurance does not cover bad engines.
  • Regular maintenance can help your engine to last as long as possible.
  • If your engine is ruined in an accident, your insurance may cover repairs, depending on your policy.

If your engine goes bad, will car insurance pay for a new engine? Whether your car is new or old or has low mileage or high mileage, the last thing you want to hear as a car owner is that you have a bad engine or motor.

Although most motors are meant to withstand hundreds of thousands of miles, there is no guarantee as to how long they will actually last.

If your car develops a bad engine or motor while it is under warranty, you may be financially okay; but if your car is out of warranty when your engine goes, then you will have to decide if you want to spend the money to fix it or move on to another car.

This is really your only option because no matter how old your car is and how much car insurance you have, unless you are in a car accident, your car insurance will not cover a bad engine or motor.

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Motor Maintenance

Up close shot of hands repairing engine.

Cars need maintenance much like the human body does. They need to be taken care of, sheltered from harsh elements, fed well, and washed regularly. Healthy checkup visits are also instrumental to keeping a car well maintained and running smoothly.

This is the best way to prevent any unexpected mechanical breakdowns and reduce your expenses as well. It is almost always cheaper to fix a failing part than it is to replace a failed one.

Proper care of your car can certainly help extend the life of your car’s engine, but just like every other mechanical device, it can break down unexpectedly despite all of your best efforts.

Depending on your car’s age and the mileage and value of the vehicle, you may want to pay to fix or replace the engine.

If a motor goes bad after a long time of normal wear and tear, such as 500,000 miles of use, then you may want to consider trading it in for a newer car.

Although you may be able to replace your engine for anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000, at this stage in your car’s lifetime, there could be much more additional mechanical work needed.

For example, it is never a good idea to replace the motor and leave an old transmission, so that alone could cost you an additional $3,000 to $6,000.

Warranty Coverage

row of prestige used cars for retail sale in a motor dealers yard showing same model in different colour choices

There are a few common warranty options:

  • New car – Almost all new vehicles come with a warranty. Typically, a warranty covers up to ten years or 100,000 miles on the drive train and up to five years or 50,000 miles bumper to bumper.
    • With all warranties, they expire with whichever comes first, the years or the mileage.
    • So, if you reach 50,000 miles in the first three years your bumper to bumper warranty will expire even though it is under the five-year warranty period.
    • Extended warranties are usually available at the time of purchase for various lengths of time with ranging price options.
  • Used car – Some pre-driven cars also come with a warranty, which is typically the remaining life of the manufacturer’s warranty or of the extended warranty.
  • Pre-certified car – Many pre-certified cars also have a limited warranty available, such as 30,000 miles on the power train and 12,000 miles or one-year bumper-to-bumper from the time you make the purchase.
  • Old car – Used cars that have exceeded their warranty do not come with any warranty and are usually sold “as is” with no guarantees expressed or implied.

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Auto Insurance Coverage

While you can purchase car insurance for liability, comprehensive, collision, and a host of other optional possibilities, ranging from uninsured motorist to rental car and towing, you cannot purchase car insurance to cover maintenance or natural wear and tear on your car.

If your engine goes bad due to poor maintenance or just natural causes, unless you are covered by a warranty of some sort you will be responsible for the costs incurred by fixing your car.

There are a couple situations where your car insurance company may pay for a bad engine or motor.

  1. If your motor becomes damaged due to a car accident, you may be covered.
  2. Unfortunately, sometimes repairing damages of severe nature usually exceed the insured value of the car and therefore, the car gets “junked” by the insurance company, in which case you would be reimbursed for your car’s value if you carry collision coverage.

A junk title, or salvage title, is issued to a car that is considered not worth fixing by the insurance company. If your car becomes totaled, your car insurance company will not pay for the repair to the motor or any other damage, but they will pay out per your policy coverage, instead.

By taking good care of your car you can prolong your investment and enjoy your ride for many, many miles!

Since car insurance doesn’t pay for a bad engine or motor, and a warranty usually expires before an engine goes bad, it is a good idea to follow your car manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines to keep your vehicle running strong for as long as possible.


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