A car warranty covers the cost of fixing or replacing car parts if your car breaks down or something goes wrong. If you buy a used car, you may still be covered by the manufacturer's original warranty, or be given a warranty by the dealer.
The dealer selling you the car may offer their own extended warranty, which may be more expensive than shopping around for a car warranty quote.
The cost of repairing a car can be expensive. According to Kwikfit, the average bill drivers paid for their most recent car repairs was £295. Older drivers paid less, but it was the 18 to 34s whose wallets took a hammering, shelling out £409 on average.
When you bear in mind that this is just the most recent repair bill, it’s not hard to see how much a driver could spend over a year or two, which goes some way to explain the appeal of car warranties.
You can choose from different levels of cover – simple “mechanical breakdown” or “comprehensive”. But what these two forms of car warranty cover isn’t universally defined.
This means it’s not necessarily the case that mechanical breakdown warranty will be a cheap warranty and provide less cover than a comprehensive warranty. It’s always best to shop around and compare warranty quotes to get the best deal.
Whatever they are called, you can expect most car warranties to cover the cost of repair to the following parts:
engine and fuel systems
clutch and gearbox
Unless included as extra, car warranties don’t cover items such as tyres and batteries, which are subject to wear and tear.
A car warranty quote for more comprehensive protection may also include cover for damage to your car’s paintwork, and sometimes general wear and tear.
Other additional options may include:
emergency overnight accommodation
If your warranty includes a “wear and tear” provision it could cover replacement exhausts or even air conditioning systems.
The cost of your warranty will depend on the age, make and model, the engine size and how far you drive your car as well as how much cover you want to pay for. It’s best to shop around and compare prices with what benefits are on offer.
Car insurance is a legal requirement for drivers, and ensures you are covered in the event that your vehicle damages someone else, their vehicle or property.
A car warranty will guarantee your parts if they fail through no fault of your own, so it’s an extra level of cover you can consider.
That said, it's not a panacea. For instance, if your car breaks down through no fault of your own, and as a result, hits another vehicle in the process, your warranty won’t cover the cost of that damage – just the parts and labour.
There are two main types of car warranty:
An extended warranty, also known as an aftermarket warranty, will cover repairs to your car after the original dealership or manufacturer warranty expires. If the idea of an extended warranty appeals, take a moment to reflect on the following:
before you decide whether to get one you will need to consider how old your car is and how long you’re likely to keep it for
sometimes you can extend the warranty so that it covers you for a year or two more, or so the warranty includes cover for extra problems. You’ll need to pay a bit extra if you want to upgrade your warranty
often, you’ll need to pay an amount towards getting the parts replaced and fitted. This is the excess and is normally a few hundred pounds
When buying a pre-owned vehicle from a dealership, you may be offered cover on a car where the original warranty has expired, this is when you would buy a used car warranty.
A used car warranty is really the standard type of warranty that most car buyers look to purchase.
Note that some performance vehicles and classic cars will be excluded from the market.
whether there is a limit to the amount you can claim
is there early claims clause that means you aren’t covered immediately?
whether repairs need to be done by a specific chain of garages
your liability if repairs increase the value of your car – known as betterment
what happens if part not covered by your warranty fails and damages another?
what about damage that’s been caused in an accident
do you need longer-term structural corrosion and paintwork warranty too – such as in older or vintage cars?
Even if you don’t buy the warranty offered by a dealer or the manufacturer, you should still have some basic protection under the Consumer Rights Act 2015:
if a fault comes to light within 30 days that is automatically considered to have been present at the time of delivery
if something goes wrong within the first six months with a brand-new car, the dealer should repair the car or replace it, but may make a deduction for usage
Second-hand car buyers have no immediate consumer rights after the 30-day cut off, unless the vehicle isn't fit for purpose or not of a satisfactory quality. You would need to prove the dealer knew the problem existed when selling the car.
Just because you have a warranty on your car doesn’t mean it’s a silver bullet. You have a responsibility to do all you can to avoid exacerbating a problem that would add to the repair bill.
stop using your vehicle as soon as problem arises – for example when the dashboard warning lights start showing
get your vehicle serviced at the intervals recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer
don’t make modifications to the vehicle, or fit non-standard or non-manufacturer approved parts.
don’t put the wrong fuel or fluids into your vehicle (unless this is covered)
check whether you need to use the insurer’s approved garages and repair shops. If this is a requirement, but you go elsewhere you may lose your warranty
A warranty claim is likely to be rejected if you fail to maintain your car or you’re reckless about your treatment of the vehicle. If the insurer suspects you’ve thrashed the car, towed or loaded it with very heavy goods or tampered with the controls, such as the odometer, your claim will be denied.
Likewise, pre-existing damage or damage caused by a natural event, such as a storm, lightning or flooding is beyond the scope of car warranties and will be turned down.
Finally, don’t attempt to fix or get your car repaired before checking with the insurer. If they insist you use a preferred garage your claim could be rejected.