What Does an Appliance Warranty Protect From?


An appliance warranty spells out varying coverage that apply to the product. In recent years, manufacturers limited their liability by reducing the warranty period from a lifetime to just one year.

One example is that of a washing machines stainless steel wash basket. For decades these parts carried a lifetime warranty, but as materials used in their manufacture changed, the manufacturers opted out of the extended coverage for cost cutting reasons. They continue to improve the quality of the products which may lead some to believe the product is less prone to breakdowns. However, appliances break and sometimes the cost to repair them is too expensive. In those cases, complete product replacement might be necessary. In most cases the appliance warranty offers coverage for the repair in full assuming normal use, which comes as a welcome relief. A manufacturer’s warranty differs from a home warranty with the biggest difference is the latter protects from breakdowns from normal use, while manufacturers limit the protection to manufacturing defects. A contentious topic of appliance warranties lies in the wording of the documents that define normal use. In a case of home appliances, no two consumers use their appliances the same and normal use defined by manufacturers is vague. If the cause of a repair is the fault of the consumer, placing blame on them isn’t wise from a customer service perspective. The risk of blaming a paying customer for causing a repair alienates them from the company forever, causing a backlash and lost business.

How an Appliance Warranty Works

Manufacturers have lightened up about placing blame but not for egregious abuse of the appliance. They walk a fine line between normal use and outright abuse. That said, it’s no wonder manufacturer warranties changed. Still, normal use requires a clarification that defines what they cover. Appliance warranties protect the consumer from subpar materials and defects in workmanship, which saves customers the expense of repairs when the appliance is new. Parts and labor get expensive with larger appliance repairs but the warranty covers both. If the product fails due to defects, manufacturers won’t refuse the repair except with a transfer of ownership. If a consumer buys a house with used appliances less than a year old and still under their initial warranty, it’s likely the warranty won’t transfer to the new owner unless the warranty paperwork states it will.

Warranty Extensions

Before the warranty expires and the registration for the appliance shows the correct information such as proof of purchase, model, and serial number, and contact information, it’s common practice for the manufacturer to offer a warranty extension to offer coverage beyond the normal one-year warranty. The new extension covers all repairs except for exclusions such as damage, abuse or age to name a few. Some have maximum repair cost provisions that trigger a contract buyout whenever a repair exceeds a preset dollar amount.

In the fine print of most warranty extensions statements about product replacement detail steps that lead to a complete replacement of the appliance. One criterion is the repair cost exceeds the value of the appliance and it’s not excluded. The consumer receives either a voucher to redeem at a store of their choosing or a check for the balance remaining on their contract.

Questions and Answers

Appliance repair gets expensive and the need for repair is urgent because a failed appliance means that part of the household stopped functioning, which leads to frustration. Below is a list of common questions and answers to help unravel some confusion that might exist about appliance warranties.

Q: What are consumable items?

A: Consumables fall into the category of items used in the normal operation of the appliance that need replacing after a period of use.

Q: Is cosmetic damage covered?

A: Yes, but for a limited time on a new appliance.

Q: Are installation mistakes covered?

A: No. Refer mistakes to the installer.

Q: What are manufacturer defects?

A: Repairs caused by product defects and not from normal use.

Q: Will I receive an identical replacement?

A: That depends on several factors. Refer to the warranty agreement.

Q: My washer leaked and ruined my floor. Is there coverage?

A: File a claim with the manufacturer, servicer, or installer.

Q: My refrigerator failed and my food spoiled. Is there coverage?

A: Yes, in certain circumstances with the decision made on a case-by-case basis.