Vehicle warranty (also known as mechanical breakdown insurance) covers the costs of repair bills should your car break down due to mechanical or electrical faults. Typically, all new cars will come with some kind of warranty cover.
Warranty cover typically lasts up to 3 years or 60,000 miles, but can be longer depending on the manufacturer. As such, it’s important to confirm with the dealer exactly how much cover you will receive before buying the vehicle.
Buying a used car? Don’t panic. Many garages will give you the option to purchase some kind of warranty on their used cars and, even if they don’t, you can buy a warranty from a third-party to give you peace of mind.
Car warranties can be defined either by length of time or by the number of miles – or sometimes both. The minimum values tend to be either 3 years or 60,000 miles. Bearing in mind that the average UK driver only covers 7,600 miles a year, it tends to be the age of the vehicle that determines when the warranty will expire.
Although 3 years is usually the minimum for a warranty, many brands will offer longer warranties to try and attract sales, as well as boost confidence in the brand itself. For example, outside of Vauxhall’s lifetime or 100,000-mile warranty, Kia offers the next longest – running at 7 years or 100,000 miles, while sister firm Hyundai offers a shorter, but still noteworthy, 5-year warranty.
If you’re worried that your warranty will expire soon, or your new purchase doesn’t come with quite such a generous policy, it’s worth looking into extending it. Audi will extend your warranty for £236 a year – which can be done once the 3-year/60,000 mile cover has expired.
While most warranties will cover the more expensive faults that happen with the car, there are some ‘wear-and-tear’ consumables that will not be covered, such as tyres, brakes, windscreen wipers and clutches. Although, luckily, these are relatively cheap to replace.
In comparison to new car warranties, used car warranties are very short. Depending on how generous the car dealership or garage is, a used car warranty will typically come in 3, 6 or 12-month periods. Some smaller or independent garages will outsource their warranties to third-party companies – in which case it can be cheaper to purchase the warranties direct from them. If the warranty is outsourced, make sure you are aware of what is covered in the policy and what is not.
It is also worth noting that, while some used car dealers will not offer a warranty of any kind, they must still sell cars that are ‘satisfactory quality’, ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘as described’, as defined in the Consumer Rights Act. If the car does not meet the outlined criteria, the dealer must legally repair it at their own cost and, if they cannot, you are entitled to a refund.
While the Consumer Rights Act can help you out in some situations, be aware of the age of the car that you have purchased. If a gearbox is sticking in the car, but it’s 3 or more years old and only worth a few hundred pounds, it will still be deemed of ‘satisfactory quality’ thanks to its age.
For information about used car checks and valuation, visit our car checks page.
While not all car warranties are the same, the vast majority will cover all mechanical and electrical faults – as well as guaranteeing against the appearance of rust for a minimum of 3 years. However, different brands’ policies vary, so it’s important to ensure that you are fully aware of what is and what is not covered in your policy as well as when it expires.
Knowing the ins and outs of your policy can be hard but is often essential. All the small print and conditions can be difficult to navigate, and next-to-impossible to understand – containing all sorts of get-out-clauses and caveats. For example, if your warning light prompts you to visit the garage and a fault is discovered – your warranty may not cover this. But if you ignore the warning light and the part inevitably breaks, this can invalidate your claim – leaving you in a catch 22.
Extended car warranties or aftermarket warranties cover mechanical breakdowns just like the normal car warranties usually do, and extend the period of the warranty, sometimes between 5-7 years. Many extended warranties come with additional servicing and breakdown cover too, for additional peace of mind. It is important to read what the extended warranty covers so you don’t end up paying more for your warranty than necessary.
If you are considering purchasing an extended warranty, then you can either:
Before taking out a car warranty, you should make sure you read the contract and terms and conditions in detail to avoid any surprises or complications.
We have made a list of the basic points you should check for: