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Weak warranty
Weak warranty
When writing about cars, I don't often mention the warranty. That's because most car warranties these days are pretty much the same. Not this time.

Almost all new cars today offer a 3-year or 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that covers every part of the vehicle. But Smart only offers a 2-year, 24,000-mile bumper-to-bumper plan.

Most cars also offer an extended powertrain warranty that covers the engine and transmission - the parts that make the car go and that would cost a lot to fix if something went wrong. Powertrain warranties are typically at least 5 years long - sometimes as long as 10 years - or 60,000 to 100,000 miles.

The Smart ForTwo's extended powertrain warrant isn't. Again, everything's covered for 2 years or 24,000 miles.

"The Smart experience is built around customization," explained a marketing representative. Additional coverage, tailored to your personal needs, can be purchased from the dealer, she said.

In other words, you can buy an extended warranty just like with any other car.

A two-year standard warranty isn't much of a show of confidence by Smart in its own product, one with no record of reliability on American roads. I take it as a bad sign and advise waiting to buy one until Consumer Reports and J.D. Power have weighed in with some early vehicle quality surveys.

NEXT: Bottom line

Last updated February 25 2008: 3:54 PM ET