Car warranties explained

How a car warranty could save you the expense of hefty car repairs

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The last thing any motorist wants is to be hit with a hefty garage bill for repairs to their car, but there are ways to make it less painful on your pocket.

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Here, we explain how a car warranty could save you the expense putting things right, and what to watch out for if you’re considering buying this type of cover.

What is a car warranty?

When you buy a new car, it will come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which means if something goes wrong, they’ll pick up the bill for any repairs.

However, after this warranty expires, typically after three or five years, it’ll be down to you to cover the cost of fixing any faults yourself. Many people choose to take out a further warranty at this point so that they are still covered if anything goes wrong.

Where can I buy an extended warranty?

When your initial warranty is due to expire, you’ll typically be offered further cover from the manufacturer via the dealership that you bought the car from.

However, don’t do this without checking whether you might be able to find cheaper, more comprehensive cover elsewhere. Several standalone providers offer extended car warranties, and prices are often more competitive than those provided by manufacturers.

What should a warranty cover?

Your car warranty should cover the cost of parts needed to repair your car, along with hourly labour charges, including reasonable diagnostics costs if it’s not immediately apparent what’s gone wrong. The best plans will not only cover faults that have arisen due to manufacturing defects and mechanical breakdown but also parts that fail as a result of wear and tear.

Bear in mind, however, that parts such as brake pads, wiper blades, batteries, tyres and exhausts will never be included in any warranty as these are considered ‘perishable parts’ which will naturally fail over time.

Some policies also include contributions towards the recovery of your car, onward travel and accommodation if you break down away from home, so always read the small print carefully before buying so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

Does the warranty provider pay me directly for the cost of repairs?

Most providers have a network of garages countrywide which you can use for repairs. If you use one of these, they will pay the garage directly when you make a claim.

You don’t necessarily have to use a garage which belongs to their network though, so if they allow you to use a different one, you’ll need to pay the bill yourself and then send it off to your warranty provider to reclaim the money back.

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Remember that whilst most car warranties will cover labour and parts in full for younger vehicles, you’re likely to have to make a contribution toward parts costs if your car is older, or has many thousands of miles on the clock.