Does Auto Insurance Cover Normal Wear and Tear?

Auto insurance will not cover normal wear and tear, and you can have your auto insurance claims denied if you fail to maintain your vehicle properly. Normal wear and tear is considered a certainty, and car insurance companies will not cover wear and tear.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2022

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Cars break down over time. But when a car experiences wear and tear, can you expect your car insurance to cover it? Will car insurance cover car breakdowns, old tire replacement, and other signs of wear and tear?

Keep reading to explain everything you need to know about whether or not wear and tear is covered by car insurance.

Normal Car Insurance Does Not Cover Normal Wear and Tear

Ordinary car insurance will not cover normal wear and tear. The reason is simple: car insurance is designed to cover unexpected costs – like the cost of repairing your car after an accident. Car insurance is not designed to cover predictable expenses – like the fact that your car needs new brakes after 20,000 miles.

With that in mind, car insurance will not cover wear and tear for most components of your vehicle.

You cannot file a claim with your insurance company for brake pad replacement, timing belt replacement, tire replacement, and similar damages. These are the expected, normal costs of owning a vehicle.

If you try to file a claim for any of these components, then your car insurance company will deny your claim. All of the items listed above need to be replaced eventually in every vehicle.

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How the Wear and Tear Exclusion Works

Insurance policies have a wear and tear exclusion that can significantly affect car insurance claims.

Because of this wear and tear exclusion, insurance companies may deny your claim if you fail to maintain your vehicle.

Let’s say you smash into the back of another vehicle when the vehicle suddenly stops. You gave yourself enough time to stop, but your brake pads were so worn down that they failed to stop your vehicle in time.

You violated the terms of your insurance policy. You failed to properly maintain your vehicle by not replacing your brake pads when they needed to be replaced. In this (extreme) situation, the car insurance company may not be required to pay for any damages.

Other Wear and Tear Issues that Will Not Be Covered

Car insurance companies are not in the business of covering wear and tear or general vehicle maintenance issues. Some of the wear and tear issues that will never be covered include:

  • Exterior damage, like rust or peeling paint
  • Ripped upholstery and other interior damage
  • Electrical problems within your vehicle
  • Worn-down mechanical components, including brake pads, engine parts, axles, etc.
  • Other general maintenance issues

All of the items listed above will degrade due to ordinary wear and tear. After years of using your vehicle, for example, your upholstery will inevitably get damaged and rust spots will appear. Car insurance will not cover any of these issues.

Certain Car Damage Will Be Covered by Car Insurance

Not all car damage is classified as wear and tear. It’s possible for your upholstery and exterior to get damaged, for example, and have it covered by car insurance.

Assuming you have full coverage car insurance, the following car damage could be covered by your car insurance policy:

Windshield Damage: Most comprehensive car insurance policies come with windshield damage coverage. The cost of repairing or replacing any chips or cracks in your windshield could be covered by car insurance.

Exterior Damage: If your car’s exterior was damaged when you hit an animal, were hit by a golf ball, or hit by hailstones, then comprehensive insurance will cover it.

Vandalism: If someone keyed your car, spray painted your vehicle, damaged your upholstery, or broke into your vehicle, then these vandalism costs will be covered.

If you only have basic liability coverage, then the above circumstances will not be covered. Those with full coverage (which includes collision and comprehensive insurance) will be covered.

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Consider ‘Self-Insuring’ Wear and Tear

Insurance companies will not cover wear and tear. However, if you’re still worried about covering wear and tear costs in the future, then consider ‘self-insuring’ for wear and tear costs.

Instead of paying your car insurance $100 per month, pay $100 into a savings account every month. Eventually, this account will grow to be large enough that you will be able to cover any wear and tear-related repairs to your vehicle.

This is how ‘self-insurance’ works. Use this fund when your brake pads need to be replaced or your car needs other repairs for wear and tear expenses.

Buy Mechanical Breakdown Insurance

Mechanical breakdown insurance is the closest thing you’ll find to ‘wear and tear car insurance’. Mechanical breakdown insurance, or MBI, specifically covers new vehicles.

You might buy mechanical breakdown insurance on a car that’s less than two years old, for example. Mechanical breakdown insurance will cover any unexpected repair costs for that vehicle. You wouldn’t expect the transmission to fail on a two year old vehicle, for example, but it can still occasionally occur.

Typically, mechanical breakdown insurance works in a similar way to a new car warranty. It’s only available on newer vehicles up to a certain age or number of miles.

Once your car is more than two or three years old, you will no longer qualify for mechanical breakdown insurance. From this point forward, car insurance companies will not cover wear and tear and other expenses.

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