What to look out for with car warranties | AA Cars

If you’re buying a car, adding an extended warranty can be a way to cover anything going wrong with the vehicle while you own it.

Before you decide whether to get one – and which kind – there are a few things to consider, from your car’s age and history to how long you’ll be running it for.

So whether you’re in the market for a new or used model, we explain what warranties are, what they cover and the different options available.

What do warranties cover on new cars?

If something breaks on your vehicle, a warranty is there to cover you if certain parts need replacing. All new cars come with a warranty from the manufacturer and this is transferable if you buy the car during the warranty period.

On new vehicles, almost all aspects of the vehicle are covered. That means all mechanical elements, such as the engine and transmission, the electrical system, fuel system, cooling system and the majority of the cosmetic features will be under the umbrella of warranty cover on a new model.

All manufacturer warranties remain when an owner sells a car, but the length of them differs. Most are for three years but some like KIA and Vauxhall offer much longer ‘lifetime’ warranties. These are usually transferable. That means that even after being sold on, the vehicle is still covered. If cars do come with lifetime cover, do check if it can be moved across to you before buying.

What do warranties cover on used cars?

When buying a pre-owned vehicle from a dealership, there are many cases where you’ll be offered cover on cars that are now beyond their original warranty. On most manufacturer and aftermarket warranty options, wear and tear isn’t covered – for example, tyres and clutches.

If you don’t take the warranty offered, you should still have some basic protection under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If a fault comes to light within 30 days that was clearly present at the time of delivery, then you should be able to reject the car for a full refund.

Otherwise, if something goes wrong within the first 6 months, the supplying dealer should repair the car or provide a replacement. Under the terms of that act, when sold, products must be ‘of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described’.

Find out more about your legal rights here

Although a used car warranty isn’t a legal requirement, it can provide additional peace of mind. Of course, costs are dependent on the age, make and model, the engine size and how far you drive it, as well as how much cover you want.

How do warranties differ?

The different types of warranty can get confusing. What type you get depends on whether your car is new or used too.

New Cars

  • New cars come with a manufacturer warranty – you might be given an option to extend this at the time of purchase.
  • Some new car warranties are longer than others – but all are transferable.

Used Cars

It might be the case that the used car you’re buying has some of its manufacturer warranty still intact– in which case you’ll be able to use this should anything go wrong. However, if the warranty has expired, then you have the option to buy a used car warranty. You can get them via:

  • Independent provider – can offer cover for certain aspects of the vehicle and are more customisable to an owner’s needs.
  • Dealer warranty – this is offered by a dealer when selling a used car, and the cover can last from just a few weeks to much longer, depending on what you need.

Whichever type of warranty you pick, the cost will depend on how long you want to cover the car for.

For each type of warranty, make sure you read the finer details, as there might be some exclusions or special conditions. You should check which elements of the vehicle are and aren’t covered – so you’re not surprised by any faults that aren’t included down the line. 

Other things to think about include:

  • Is there a limit to the amount you can claim?
  • Is there an early claims clause that means you aren’t covered from the start?
  • Do you need to have repairs done by a specific chain of garages?
  • Will you have to pay out if a repair job increases the value of your car (betterment)?
  • Are you covered against consequential loss, where a part not covered by your warranty fails and damages another?
  • Does your warranty cover damage that’s been caused in an accident?
  • Do you have a longer-term structural corrosion and paintwork warranty too?

Warranty cover might not be for everyone, and it is expensive – so you need to ask yourself if the vehicle is worth covering. But it’s definitely something to consider getting as it can help prevent any unexpected costs if parts fail.

If you choose to take out a warranty policy, you must always read the terms and conditions to see what circumstances would void your cover.


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