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Published 15 November 2021

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Car warranty policies are a way of covering yourself against the cost of car parts and repairs. A suitable policy can ease the financial burden of unexpected mechanical and electrical failures.

About Car Warranties

All new cars come with a manufacturers’ warranty which could last from three to seven years, but what happens when this expires? You could choose to do nothing at all as car warranties aren’t a legal requirement, but this means you would need to pay for any repairs on your car yourself.

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If you want the extra peace of mind that car warranty cover can bring, you can choose to get an extended car warranty from the manufacturer, from a dealership when you buy your car, or from an online provider.

Car warranties cover the cost of any parts and labour that are needed to fix a fault in your vehicle, as long as it is a problem covered by the policy. Most system failures and mechanical issues, such as a fault with the engine or brakes, are typically covered by car warranties, but each policy will have their own terms.

Having a car warranty means you may not need to pay out for expensive repairs if you find a fault with your vehicle, so they could save you money in the long-term. However, it’s important to familiarise yourself with what a car warranty is, what they cover, and what exclusions may apply so you can work out if you need a policy and, if you do, how to choose the best car warranty for your vehicle.

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What is a car warranty?

A car warranty is essentially a mechanical breakdown insurance policy as it covers the cost of fixing certain problems with your car, up to a specified limit. This means you wouldn’t need to find the money to pay for these repairs yourself.

There are different types of car warranties. A manufacturers’ warranty comes with every new car and will last for a specified number of years or up to a certain mileage. Even if you buy a used car that’s a few years old, it may still be covered by the manufacturers’ warranty.

Once this expires, you have the option of prolonging your cover with an extended car warranty. You may be able to get this from the manufacturer or, alternatively, you could get a used car warranty, also called an aftermarket car warranty, from a dealership or independent online provider.

If you buy a used car from a dealership, they may offer you a car warranty at the time of purchase either included in the price or as an added extra. However, you don’t need to make a decision immediately. You can compare it with other car warranties online and choose to get a warranty elsewhere if it offers the cover you want at a better price.

Should you buy a used car warranty?

A car warranty isn’t legally required, unlike car insurance, but it can give you peace of mind that you won’t need to pay for expensive repairs should something go wrong with your car. Once the manufacturers’ warranty, or your existing used car warranty, expires, you would need to pay to fix any mechanical faults or system failures unless you buy another car warranty.

So, if you’re worried that you may not be able to afford emergency repairs, taking out a car warranty could be something to consider.#

When making your decision you will need to think about:

What does an aftermarket car warranty cover?

Car warranties cover a range of problems related to the mechanical and electrical systems of a car. Every policy may not cover all the below, but some of the things a car warranty can cover include:

What is not typically covered by a car warranty?

Car warranties will typically cover problems related to the systems and inner workings of the car. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, sometimes referred to as “consumables”, will normally be excluded from cover. These can include brake pads, tyres, and the clutch.

Also, issues caused by accidental damage won’t normally be included under car warranties.

Your car insurance should cover damage caused by a third party or an accident, including exterior damage, while any problems that emerge after years of usage, such as worn brakes or tyres, you will probably need to pay for yourself.

You also won’t be covered if you go against the terms of your car warranty policy. For example, providers may require you to get your car serviced at certain intervals for your cover to remain valid, and you may even need to go to a specific garage to get the service.

Car warranty jargon explained

Part of the reason why car warranty can be confusing is because of the jargon used within the policies. Below are some of the terms you may come across.

Betterment: This is when your car gets a repair or replacement part that improves your car and increases its value. Some warranties may ask you to contribute to the cost if this is the case, while other policies will cover this.

Claims limits: Warranties will normally set a maximum amount that you can claim in total, as well as a maximum amount you can claim for a particular issue, so you would have to pay for any repairs above this sum.

Consequential loss: This is when a problem not covered under the warranty damages a part of your car that is covered under warranty. Some policies may cover repairs in this situation, but not all.

Excess: Whenever you make a claim, you need to pay an agreed sum of money, known as an excess, towards your repairs.

Pre-existing faults: If your car has a fault that was there before you took out a warranty, this is unlikely to be covered.

Wear and tear: This refers to the natural wearing down of certain areas of a car while it is being used, such as the clutch. Most warranties won’t cover parts that have worn away through regular use, unless they have deteriorated faster than expected.

Car Warranty FAQs

What is included in an aftermarket car warranty?

An aftermarket car warranty will include cover for faults that may appear in certain parts of your car, such as the engine, the steering, and the fuel systems. Sometimes warranties include cover for problems with the air-conditioning or electrical issues with entertainment or navigational systems too. To know exactly what a car warranty covers, check your policy documents.

Will my car warranty cover wear and tear?

This depends. As a rule, most car warranties won’t cover repairs for any parts that you would expect to wear away with regular use, unless they don’t last as long as they are meant to. Things like tyres, brake pads, bulbs, and the clutch, which experience regular use and you would expect to replace at some point, won’t normally be covered by a warranty. Some providers may offer some cover for wear and tear, so check the terms of each policy to see what cover is included. Warranty that includes wear and tear cover may be more expensive.

Does car warranty cover accidental damage?

No, car warranties cover mechanical and system failures with the car, not accidental damage. If your car is damaged by fire or in an accident, you may be able to make a claim on your car insurance depending on the level of cover you have chosen.

Does car warranty include breakdown cover?

Some car warranty policies may include some levels of roadside assistance, but this will depend on the provider and the policy you choose. Car warranties aren’t a substitute for breakdown cover as breakdown cover can offer assistance for problems that don’t involve specific faults with the car’s internal systems, such as a flat battery or a puncture.

Does car insurance offer the same coverage as a car warranty plan?

No, car insurance and car warranties are two separate policies. Car insurance is legally required and, as a minimum, will cover you in the event of an accident. More comprehensive policies may cover you if your car is stolen or damaged.

Car warranty, on the other hand, will cover you if there is something wrong with a certain part of your car. If the part has been damaged in an accident for example, this would come under your insurance.

How much will my car warranty provider pay out for a repair?

This depends on the policy and the provider. Car warranties will set limits for the amount they will pay out, and they may set separate limits for certain faults. For example, you may only be able to claim up to a set sum for a problem with your engine. Any repairs or parts that cost more than this sum, would be your responsibility to pay.

How much does a car warranty cost?

The cost of a car warranty will depend on factors like the age and model of your car and your car’s mileage. It will also depend on the level of cover you choose. Some providers will offer warranties with varying levels of cover, and the ones with more protection are likely to cost you more. How much excess you agree to pay when you make a claim will also affect the cost of the warranty. The higher the excess, the more you may be able to save on your warranty.

The cost of car warranties also differs between providers. Warranties from a dealership can be more expensive than warranties that are bought online from independent providers, so it is worth comparing the costs of different options.

Is it worth getting an extended warranty?

Only you can answer that. If your car is known to be reliable and you have enough money in your savings to cover the cost of any emergency repairs, then you may feel you could do without a car warranty. However, repairs can quickly become very expensive, so a warranty could cost you less than paying for the repairs yourself.

Before making a decision, look at what is included in the car warranty as well as its terms and conditions. This will help you to see if a car warranty is right for you and your vehicle.

How long does a warranty last on a used car?

Manufacturers’ warranties on brand-new cars typically last three years, but can go up to seven years, so your used car may still be covered by this policy. When this expires, you may be able to extend this by a year or more.

Dealerships offer used car warranties lasting from a few months to a year or more. Warranties from independent online providers can range up to three years. The length of a car warranty can also depend on the age of your vehicle.

Can I get my car serviced anywhere under warranty?

This depends. All warranties will require you to get your car serviced at a reputable garage at specified intervals. However, manufacturers’ warranties can’t tell you where to get your car serviced or make you get the service from one of their dealerships. You can go to an independent garage and the warranty will still be valid.

However, if you get an aftermarket warranty from a dealership, they can require you to get your car serviced at one of their garages in order for your warranty to be valid. Warranties from independent providers may have a list of approved garages where you can get a service from, or they may accept services from any VAT registered garage. Check your terms to see what your car warranty requires.

How do I make a claim on my car warranty?

If there is something wrong with your car and you think it’s covered by the warranty, you should stop using your car and report the issue to your provider. You will need to tell them about the problem, and they should then tell you what to do next.

If they authorise the repairs to your vehicle, you can take your car to an approved garage to get it fixed, and the provider may pay the garage directly. If you take your car to a different garage for repairs, you may be able to pay and then claim the costs back from the provider. Your policy documents will have more information on this.

Could my car warranty claim be rejected?

If you breach the terms of your car warranty your claim could be rejected. For example, if you continued to use your car even though you were aware of a problem, your claim may be unsuccessful as you may have made the problem worse. Similarly, if you have not looked after your car and got it serviced as required, your policy could be invalidated. Check the terms of your policy to make sure you comply with all the necessary requirements.

What happens if I sell my car after buying a warranty?

If you sell your car, contact your warranty provider. You can cancel your warranty and you may be able to claim a refund for the period you haven’t used. For a fee, some providers will allow you to transfer your warranty to the new owner of the car. In some cases you may be able to transfer the warranty to your new vehicle, or get a discount on a new policy if you stay with the same provider.

About the Author

Rhiannon Philps

Rhiannon has been writing about personal finance for over three years, specialising in energy, motoring, credit cards and lending. After graduating from the University of Cambridge with a degree in…

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