What Is an Implied Warranty?

An implied warranty is a legal term for the assurances—written or oral—that a product is fit for the purpose intended and is merchantable, i.e., conforms to an ordinary buyer’s expectations. The warranty of merchantability is implied unless expressly disclaimed by name, or the sale is identified with the phrase "as is" or "with all faults.” 

Key Takeaways

  • An implied warranty is an assurance that a product is fit for its intended purpose. 
  • These implied warranties can be made written or orally. 
  • Implied warranties are governed by state laws, not federal laws. 
  • The two key types of implied warranties are merchantability and fitness. 
  • Merchantability says that a product will meet reasonable expectations of the buyer, while fitness means the product meets the buyer’s intended use. 

How an Implied Warranty Works

To protect consumers, products and services come with an implied warranty, whether or not there’s a written warranty. This guarantee is in addition to any express warranty provided at the time of sale and includes the implied warranty of workmanlike quality for services, implied warranty of habitability for a home, and the warranty of title that gives the seller the right to sell the goods.

Special Considerations

Marking items “sold as is,” or using similar terms, does not free a retailer from implied warranties in several states. Implied contracts, including implied warranties, are enforced by U.S. law. These are governed by state laws, where implied warranties are unwritten, and thus not covered by federal law.

Meanwhile, written warranties are protected via the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and covered by federal law. Many of these state laws require four years of coverage, while others require they only last as long as any express warranty. 

Types of Implied Warranties 

Merchantability 

The implied warranty of merchantability means the goods are merchantable and conform to a reasonable buyer’s expectations. Most consumer products have an implied warranty of merchantability. This warranty makes the assumption that a good or product works for its intended purpose. It applies not just to new items, but for used items as well.  

Fitness

The warranty of fitness means a product is guaranteed for a specific purpose. This type of implied warranty is below the merchantability warranty. For example, if you tell a salesman you want a saw for cutting metal and it turns out it won’t cut through metal, you may return the item under the implied warranty of fitness. 

With the warranty of fitness, the good or product works fine, but it does not meet the buyer’s intended use. The warranty of fitness is implied via a salesperson’s recommendation or assurance of a product for a specific purpose. 

Example of Implied Warranty

For example, fruit that looks fresh but has hidden defects would violate the implied warranty of merchantability. All the food in a grocery store has an implied warranty as consumers assume it is fresh and edible—which is why they get a refund if it is not.