Warranty vs Guarantee

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Updated March 14, 2023

Warranties, either expressed or implied, come with nearly all products. However, for consumers to exercise the full extent of their rights, they need to be familiar with the various terms included in their contracts. One key distinction is the difference between a warranty vs guarantee.


  • Guarantees and warranties outline manufacturer promises concerning the quality and reliability of their products.
  • Warranties typically deal with future conditions, promising buyers to fix or replace products if it malfunctions within a specific period after purchase.
  • Guarantees are statements about the quality of the product upon purchase.

A warranty is a written or verbal promise from manufacturers that states their product will work the way it was intended, under normal conditions, for a given period; if not, they’ll replace or refund the buyer. Guarantees, like warranties, are also verbal or written terms. However, guarantees focus on a product’s conditions at the point of sale, stating that the product will work as expected; otherwise, the manufacturer is responsible for issuing a refund or exchange.

Differences Between a Warranty and Guarantee

Nobody wants to read through their product’s contract. But having a clear idea of your policy is necessary for knowing what to do if problems arise.

Insider Tip

Consumers can ask manufacturers or vendors for a written record of verbal warranties or guarantees. This is a good idea as it helps build a stronger case for repayment if any issues arise.

As stated above, both warranties and guarantees hold manufacturers accountable for their promises about their products, but they do so in different ways. It’s also important to remember that there are even more distinctions, like insurance vs warranties. And understanding all of these are essential to protecting your valued assets.

Future Conditions

Warranties deal with future circumstances. For example, a refrigerator warranty will come with a limited warranty, stating the company will repair or replace the unit for free if any defects are discovered due to manufacturing oversight or abnormal breakdowns. Then there are extended warranties, which extend the length of the limited warranty and provide additional coverage for accidental damages.

Warranties come in either verbal or written agreements, such as a salesman explaining that a car’s tires are covered for up to 50,000. But it’s important to know that certain conditions will void a warranty, such as transferring ownership. Also, most warranties are limited in how long they last; most manufacturer warranties last between 1-3 years.

Lastly, accidental and shipping/handling damage will only be covered if you get an extended warranty.

Present Conditions

As you can see, warranties deal with potential circumstances within a timeframe after purchase. On the other hand, guarantees are verbal or implied promises that state a product should work as expected upon purchase. Sticking with the refrigerator example, if a user powers it on to find it only cools to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, that is not the expected function of a refrigerator. At that point, the user can relay this to the company, and they will issue a replacement or a refund.

Guarantees also often take the form of “money back” agreements. For example, you’ve probably heard ads for a product’s satisfaction guarantee: If you’re not thrilled with our product in 30 days, get your money back, guaranteed. However, although some guarantees come with timeframes, most only deal with the state of the product at the point of sale.

Legal Differences

When it comes down to it, warranties and guarantees are the same, similar to the debate between representations vs warranties. But, really, the difference lies in their wording within legal situations.

Warranties often come in written form, whereas guarantees are expressed verbally or implied under the legal concept of merchantability. Both types of promises have legal standing, but warranties are always considered more solid in litigation because they are easier to rule on whether a breach of contract has occurred.


Making non-approved modifications to a product will likely remove any responsibility of the manufacturer to honor their warranties/guarantees.

Firstly, warranties are easier to prove, given they often come in the form of a contract. The written word is almost always more powerful from a legal standpoint. Also, guarantees are subject to hyperbole, such as a company saying “Best NYC Pizza.” That’s a guarantee, but there’s no way to prove it. Therefore, there’s no legal element to such a claim.

Ultimately, although they are the same term for agreement, users have more robust protection over their consumer rights with warranties.

STAT: The market for extended warranties is projected to grow to $274 billion by 2031. (source)

Warranty vs Guarantee FAQs

How can you get the most out of your warranty or guarantee?

The only way to know the full extent of your rights is by examining the claims made in the contract. In addition, reading your contract best prepares you to achieve repayment and understand the workable timeframe.

How do you handle a breach of contract?

First, read the warranty, as they usually outline the process to handle a claim. If there is no process, call the manufacturer and ask to submit a claim.

What do I do if a manufacturer does not honor the warranty?

You can press legal charges. Additionally, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission (for businesses in the US).
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