Car warranties – what you need to know

Motorists picking up a new ‘69’ registration car next month will have peace of mind that they’ll be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, but drivers of older cars may not have the same protection.

Unlocking car door

March and September are traditionally two of the busiest months for new car sales, as these are the months when numbers plates change.

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New cars usually come with generous warranties which typically last for three to five years, so that if anything goes wrong with your new car, the manufacturer will foot the bill for getting it fixed.

However, after the manufacturer’s warranty ends, you’ll need to ensure you take out additional cover if you want to protect yourself against hefty repair costs.

Shop around for cover

The manufacturer may offer you a further warranty through the dealership you bought your car from once the original warranty expires. However, before you commit to this, always make sure you compare what’s available elsewhere so you can be certain that you’ve found the best possible deal.

Don’t just plump for the cheapest warranty you can find though, as it’s important it provides you with sufficient cover. Ideally you should opt for a plan which provides cover up to the replacement cost of your car. You should also look for a warranty that will cover components which fail during at a service or MOT.

More comprehensive policies may also include contributions towards the recovery of your car, onward travel and accommodation if you break down away from home, so always check the small print carefully before buying so you know exactly what your warranty provides.

If you opt for a policy with low cover limits, you could find that you end up having to cover much of the repair costs yourself if you need to make an expensive claim.

Check for exclusions

It’s worth checking for any exclusions before you buy a car warranty too. As a general rule, warranties will typically exclude things such as tyres, windscreen wipers, wheels, exhausts, and damage to bodywork or paintwork. More expensive items, such as air conditioning units, may not be covered either. Some warranties will also exclude mechanical failures due to manufacturing defects, or that have arisen as a result of wear and tear, although more comprehensive policies will include these.

It’s also a good idea ask the provider of any warranty you are thinking about buying if they’ve joined the Motor Ombudsman’s motor industry Code of Practice for car warranty products. The code aims to promote and safeguard the interests of motorists by ensuring companies provide additional consumer protection above and beyond their legal obligations.

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Car warranty product providers pledge to have a simple claims procedure in place to resolve any customer problems quickly and cost effectively.