Car warranty

Whether you decide to buy a new or used car, a warranty can offer peace of mind if your vehicle develops mechanical faults during the warranty period. Understand more about car warranties and how they work with the help of our guide.

Whether you decide to buy a new or used car, a warranty can offer peace of mind if your vehicle develops mechanical faults during the warranty period. Understand more about car warranties and how they work with the help of our guide.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
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Posted 8 SEPTEMBER 2021

What is a car warranty?

Usually, it’s a guarantee by the car manufacturer to repair a mechanical failure or faulty paintwork during the period of the cover. Typically, new cars will come with a warranty that’s valid for three years or 60,000 miles from the date of manufacture, whichever comes first. 

Some manufacturers offer even longer warranty periods. Hyundai, for example, offers a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, whereas Kia’s is for seven years or 100,000 miles. 

Where can I get a car warranty?

If you’re buying a new car, it should come with a manufacturer’s warranty as standard, so you shouldn’t have to worry about that. The manufacturer’s warranty length can vary, but three years is pretty normal, or until you reach a certain mileage (50,000 for example) - whichever comes first. If you’re not happy with the length of the warranty you’re given, you could pay for an extended car warranty when yours is about to expire.

If you’re buying a used car from an official dealer, you might get a used car warranty as part of the deal, but you shouldn’t assume this and make sure to check. Used car warranties are usually much shorter than the manufacturer’s warranty, typically only lasting between a few months to a year.

If you’re buying your car from an independent dealer or garage, then you can choose to buy an independent warranty that’ll be provided by another third-party. These are also known as “aftermarket warranties”, and it’s completely up to you whether you buy one. If you do, be careful to check all of the terms and conditions of the warranty, because they can be far less comprehensive than official manufacturers’ warranties.

Can you get a warranty on a used car?

If you buy a nearly new car (usually three years old or less), then you may have some time remaining on the standard manufacturer’s warranty.   

It’s possible to buy a used car with a warranty. Most franchised dealers typically offer a 12-month warranty, and some second-hand dealers may offer three, six or 12-month warranties as an incentive.  

If you’re buying a car from a private seller, you’re really buying ‘sold as seen’. However, it’s possible to buy an aftermarket, third-party used car warranty for cars up to 12 years old, although they do tend to have more exclusions than a manufacturer’s warranty.  

What does a car warranty cover?

Warranties differ according to the manufacturer or provider, so you’ll need to read the policy details carefully to make sure your repair bills will be covered. But most warranties typically cover the cost of repairs for mechanical breakdown and electrical parts such as the gearbox, engine, suspension, transmission and ignition systems. 

As well as checking what parts are covered, you should see if certain parts have a limited cover period. For example, although Kia’s warranty is for seven years, the cover for batteries is only for two. 

What isn’t covered by a car warranty?

You shouldn’t assume your car warranty will cover you for every kind of fault you encounter during the warranty period. 

Depending on the kind of warranty you have, things like these may not be included: 

  • Most warranties won’t cover you for general wear and tear such as worn tyres, brakes and windscreen wipers. 
  • Most warranties will state that you have to take reasonable care of your car and that you could invalidate it, if you don’t take your car in for regular servicing. 
  • You may be expected to only use garages approved by the dealership for repairs and servicing.
  • Any  modifications to your car  could invalidate your warranty, so it’s a good idea to check before you add that super-sized rear spoiler. 

What else should I look out for when buying a car warranty?

Always check you understand the small print in your warranty – it often contains jargon.

Here are a couple of examples that you might want to familiarise yourself with before signing on the dotted line: 

  • What is betterment? 
    If your car ends up getting a part that is ‘better’ than the part it’s replacing, you may be expected to pay for it, or at least contribute to its cost.
  • What is consequential loss?
    This is when a part that’s insured fails because of the failure of another (uninsured) part. Ideally, you want a warranty that will cover you for consequential damage, otherwise you’ll be expected to pay for some or all of the part that needs replacing.
  • What is garage choice?
    Some policies and insurance providers may have a list of “approved garages” that you’ll need to use, otherwise you’ll face paying towards their labour.
  • What is labour rate?
    The labour rate refers to the garage’s hourly rate, and how much of it that your warranty provider will pay towards.
  • What is the excess?
    The excess is the amount that you’ll need to pay towards repairs when you make a claim.

Could my warranty claim be rejected?

There are quite a few reasons why your warranty claim could be rejected. Here are some examples:

  • You’ve neglected the car – if the car isn’t properly maintained, serviced or had its MOT, this will likely break the terms of your warranty, which means you won’t be covered. Take extra care when you do get the car serviced, as you may need to have the work done by an approved garage. Other examples include using the wrong fuel, which leads to issues that then won’t be covered, or driving with a warning light or known fault without getting it checked.
  • Improper use – if there’s evidence that you’ve not been using the car appropriately (e.g. taking it off road when it’s not suitable), then you might find you’re not covered.
  • The parts to repair aren’t covered – depending on the type of warranty you’ve got, you might find that certain things aren’t covered. Manufacturer’s warranties tend to be among the best, but you should take extra care when taking out an “after-market warranty” for a used car, or even warranties from official used car dealers.
  • You’ve modified the car – if you’ve made modifications to the car after taking out the warranty, this may cause an issue. If the modifications led to the issue you’re claiming for, your claim will probably be rejected.
  • Acts of God – if you’re claiming for damages relating to flooding or other natural disasters, you probably won’t be covered.

Is it worth having a car warranty?

Warranties can provide peace of mind, but how useful they are will depend on the warranty you have. Cheaper warranties may have a lot of exclusions, but a comprehensive warranty may be more expensive.

Some warranties also include breakdown cover, so you might want to factor this in when it comes to totting up the cost of buying a car with or without a warranty.

Is it worth buying a warranty for a used car?

If you’re buying a used car through a dealership, you may have the option to purchase a warranty or extended warranty via the dealer. The warranty will usually be through a third-party, rather than the dealership themselves. 

If you don’t trust the reliability of the car or you just need reassurance, a warranty could offer you extra peace of mind. However, you need to be clear about exactly what the warranty will cover, which means looking very carefully at the small print. You also need to weigh up the cost of the warranty in relation to any repairs you might need to make to the car. It might work out cheaper just to pay for any repairs up front.

How much does a car warranty cost?

This depends on a number of factors, including: 

  • your mileage 
  • make and model of the car 
  • age of the car 

Warranties for more expensive or older cars are likely to cost more.  

The price of your warranty may also depend on the level of cover you want, and how long you want it to last for.  

Different providers may offer you lower prices, so you shouldn’t feel obliged to go with the manufacturer’s or dealer’s warranty. Shop around to make sure you’re getting a great deal. 

How can I find a cheaper warranty?

Before signing any paperwork, make sure you’ve done your research. Compare prices online to find the type of warranty at a price that suits you. 

Comparing prices will allow you to pick and choose the things you want to include in your warranty. For instance, you may be able to set the claim limit or the voluntary excess. 

Warranty or not, you’ll always need car insurance

While you’re deciding whether to choose a model with or without a warranty, take the time to find out how much your insurance will cost you. We’re dedicated to helping you find and compare the right car insurance to suit your needs. 
Comparing car insurance quotes with us could save you up to £267** on your premium and will only take about 5 minutes*** of your time.  
****Based on Online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during May 2021 50% of customers could save up to £267.92 on their car insurance premium.
***On average it can take less than 5 minutes to complete a car insurance quote through Compare the Market, based on data in September 2020.

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