On this page you’ll find key facts about the manufacturer’s warranty you get with a new car. We also explain used car warranties, with a checklist to help you avoid the expense and disappointment of a used car warranty not meeting your needs.
Car warranties explained
A car warranty gives you protection against having to pay for labour costs and replacement of certain parts of your vehicle if they suffer from mechanical faults or electrical failure. Often it can be very expensive to repair your vehicle.
It’s important to check how to keep your warranty valid. There may be a maximum millage, or you might need to service your car at specific intervals and missing a service could make the warranty invalid. So check the warranty carefully and see what exactly is covered.
If something isn’t clear, ask someone to explain.
Often, you’ll need to pay an amount towards getting the parts replaced and fitted. This is the excess and is normally a few hundred pounds.
If you buy a car new, or a used car from a dealer, the warranty might come as standard, or you might have to pay for it.
Every car warranty covers different parts, has different terms and conditions, and the costs for warranties can also vary significantly.
Some things policies normally cover include:
- engine and fuel systems
- clutch and gearbox
Sometimes you can extend the warranty so that it covers you for a year or two more, or so the warranty includes cover for extra problems. You’ll need to pay a bit extra if you want to upgrade your warranty.
Warranties sold for used cars often have so many conditions it’s difficult to work out exactly what they include. This could lead to a nasty surprise if you needed to make a claim.
A report by Which? magazine said: “It’s difficult to justify the cost of even the cheapest used car warranty when you consider the endless exclusions, pricey premiums and low average expense of yearly repairs.
We’d recommend setting money aside each year to cover any repairs, but if you’re intent on getting a warranty consider paying for it when you buy your car. These manufacturer extended warranties tend to have fewer exclusions than their third-party rivals.”
Warranties for new cars
All new cars come with a manufacturers’ warranty.
These can last between three to seven years and should cover most faults except wear and tear of parts such as tyres and brake pads.
For the warranty to be valid, you usually have to follow some rules. For example, ensuring the car is serviced on time and at a reputable dealer.
When the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you have a few options:
It’s worth bearing in mind four out of ten cars between four and nine years old break down each year, with an average repair cost of £574 (source – survey by Green Flag May 2018).
Warranties for used cars
When buying a used car, you’ll need to decide how to cover the costs of unexpected repair bills. There are a couple of options:
There are two main levels of cover to choose from – simple ‘mechanical breakdown’ and ‘comprehensive’.
The general rule of thumb is the cheaper the warranty, the less cover it provides.
However, warranties sold by car dealers tend to be more expensive than those you can buy online, but don’t necessarily give more cover.
Although most new cars come with a three-year warranty, some have a five-year warranty and Kia even offers a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
So you could consider looking for a used car with some years to go on its manufacturer’s warranty. For help buying a used car visit our Buying a used car page.
How can a vehicle warranty policy be invalidated?
Making sure you meet the rules and requirements of your warranty policy is essential to avoid having claims declined.
Claims can be invalidated by:
- continuing to use your vehicle even if a warning light appears on the dashboard
- driving your vehicle even though there’s a noticeable mechanical or electrical fault
- not getting your vehicle serviced at the intervals recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer
- making modifications to the vehicle, or fitting non-standard or non-manufacturer approved parts during repairs
- putting the wrong fuel or fluids into your vehicle e.g. oil or coolant
- not following the warranty claim procedure correctly.
Source: Motor Ombudsman
Car warranty checklist
Before taking out a car warranty make sure you read the small print.
Here are the basic points you need to check:
- Is there a limited to the amount of money you can make a claim for?
- Does the warranty have an excess?
- Is the servicing schedule acceptable?
- Is there a standard 14-day cooling off period?
- Does it state a limit for either your annual or total mileage?
- Can you only make a claim after a set period, such as a month?
- Does the policy cover the full cost of repair – not just parts or labour?
- Is the warranty company registered with the ABI (Association of British Insurers)?
- Is there a maximum amount paid for labour costs, leaving you to foot the bill for the extra?
- What garages are on the list used for servicing and repair, and what are their locations and costs?
- Remember if your car is approaching the maximum age allowed, it might not be worth buying a warranty.
- Warranty agreements often use very specific terminology, so you might not know exactly what is meant by terms like ‘betterment’ or ‘wear and tear.’ Which? has an A-Z list to help you out.
A warranty doesn’t replace your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. So, along with any protection your warranty offers, under the act you have the right to reject a car if it is faulty and get a full refund within 30 days of buying it.
You may also have protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You’ll have protection if you paid using a credit card or bought the car with hire purchase from a dealer. Section 75 means the credit card provider, or finance provider in the case of hire purchase, is jointly responsible for any problems.
You can find out more about the Consumer Rights Acts and section 75 and your car on our site.
If you’re having problems with the service you’re receiving as part of your warranty, for example a bad repair, there are steps you can take.
First you should always get in touch with the garage or dealer to try and sort out the situation.
If you can’t come to an agreement, you should get in touch with the trade association for the garage or dealer you’re dealing with.
Find out more about the trade associations and how to deal with problems on the Citizens Advice websiteopens in new window.
Next steps: car insurance
You must by law be insured to drive your new or used car on the road.
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