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Jamie Gibbs

Car warranties explained

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What exactly is a car warranty, and how might it benefit you?

Old car parked on road

Everyone wants to drive a well-maintained car, but it’s a fact of life that major breakdowns do happen. In cases when your set of wheels suffers a serious mechanical problem, a car warranty can save the day (and a few pounds).

A car warranty – also known as mechanical breakdown insurance – unlike car insurance, is not compulsory. But it will certainly give you peace of mind when out and about.

There are different warranties you can buy for your motor, but generally speaking, they cover certain mechanical problems. A warranty may also cover the cost of labour and different car components, such as faults with the engine, drive train, suspension and electrical faults.

Certain car warranties will cover the bare minimum, but others will cover a comprehensive list of mechanical faults. Find out what your existing warranty covers by carefully reading the policy.

Warranty policies are typically valid for anything from one to seven years. For new cars the warranty is valid during the term of the policy or until the car hits a mileage cap, usually at 100,000 miles.

There are two basic types of car warranties: a manufacturer’s warranty and a used-car warranty.

Manufacturer’s warranty

When buying brand-new, the manufacturer’s warranty is included in the price. If you experience any problems with the car, the warranty will take care of them at no extra cost.

Different manufacturers have different policies: what’s covered, and for how long, may vary. If you decide to sell your car and if it’s still within the warranty period, the car will remain covered with the new owner.

For the warranty to remain valid, you’d need to adhere to certain conditions. For example, the car has to be serviced with an approved garage only. Unfortunately, this might be more expensive than carrying out repairs at an independent garage.

Protected car

Used-car warranty

If you’ve bought a car from a private seller or from a dealer, you can decide to buy a used-car warranty – also known as dealer or after-market warranty. What’s more, once the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, buying such warranty can be used to extend the protection on the car.

The older a car gets, the more likely it is to break down. So, even though a warranty isn’t compulsory, it’s worth buying one. This will reduce the possibility of having to fork out for any major expensive mechanical or electrical faults.

When buying an after-market car warranty, you have the freedom to choose the cover level and tailor the policy to your heart’s desire.

Remember, you can find a good deal online or by contacting companies directly. You don’t have to buy a warranty at the point of sale, even if the dealer offers you one.

Things to consider

Your warranty policy will have a list of conditions which need to be met in order to remain valid. Failure to comply with those may result in invalidating your policy. For example, such conditions may include:

  • Servicing the car at an unauthorised garage.

  • Not following car’s recommended service schedule.

  • Modifying the car.

  • Developing faults from parts, fuel and lubricants not approved by the manufacturer.

  • Claims based on the owner’s neglect.

Also, car warranties do not protect everything. There are certain exclusions, such as normal wear and tear and certain car parts.

Remember that when buying car warranty, you may have to prove that the car has been serviced regularly and has a current MOT certificate.

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