Technology is advancing, and gone are the days where you could repair a car yourself. Modern cars are made up of extremely sophisticated components – both electronic and mechanical. If something does go wrong with a part, it’s highly unlikely you can fix it yourself, and you’ll probably end up shelling out hundreds, if not thousands, in repair bills.
Typically, all new cars will come with some kind of warranty, and they’re designed to help cover you, in case something does go wrong with your new car.
Buying a second-hand 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.
How long does a new warranty last?
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 three years or 60,000 miles. Bearing in mind that the average UK driver only covers 7,500 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 cheaper to replace.
Should I get a used car warranty?
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 three, six or 12 month periods, although a lot of 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 secondhand car dealers will not offer a warranty of any kind, particularly when you look at the cheaper end of the market, 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 several years old and only worth a few hundred pounds, it will still be deemed of ‘satisfactory quality’ thanks to its age.
What will my car warranty cover?
While not all 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 three 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.