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Once the warranty has expired, the manufacturer is under no obligation to help with the costs of repair
So you've had your new car for just over three years, the warranty has expired but the car now needs an expensive repair.
Surely it's unreasonable for a car so young to fail, particularly if it's a luxury car from a prestige mark, so the manufacturer should pick up the bill, shouldn't he?
Car durability and reliability have improved dramatically over the past few decades despite equally dramatic increases in complexity.
Back in the 1960s cars might manage only around 60,000 miles before needing a major engine rebuild. Now, vastly more complex cars, packed with electronics, can reach 200,000 miles or more with only a few repairs – though unfortunately these can be very expensive when they are required.
In the 1980s a new car warranty typically covered faults arising during the first 12 months only. Now, largely because of advances in reliability and durability, new cars are provided with three, five or even seven year warranties.
Nevertheless, vehicles remain a collection of a large number of components sourced from many different specialist parts suppliers so it is virtually inevitable that even in a reliable or very expensive car, something will eventually go wrong.
Once the warranty has expired, the manufacturer is under no obligation to help with the costs of repair.
Once the warranty has expired, the manufacturer is under no obligation to help with the costs of repair. Some may however choose to make a goodwill contribution towards repair costs, particularly if the failure occurred shortly after the warranty expired. It can help too under these circumstances if the car has been regularly serviced by one of their franchised dealers.
If you are in this position, ask the service department of the garage to submit a post warranty claim to the manufacturer, on your behalf.
While you may be frustrated or angry at the prospect of an expensive repair bill, it is vital to bear in mind that the manufacturer does not have to help. If you lose your temper or become aggressive it is more likely that the claim will be rejected or that an offer already made may be withdrawn.
There is an exception to this when a fault becomes the subject of an official vehicle safety recall campaign. Recalls are covered by a code of practice and are initiated where evidence indicates the existence of a safety defect (a feature of design or construction liable to cause significant risk of personal injury or death) in the unit, and the defect appears to be common to a number of units available for supply in the UK. It is a matter of VOSA /manufacturer judgement to decide whether the number of units affected is sufficient to justify invoking the Code. A fixed numerical limit cannot be specified as the decision will take account of the degree of seriousness of any possible hazard involved.
(30 November 2011)