What does your car warranty cover?

In short, a car warranty policy covers unexpected repair bills if your car breaks down or a part fails. New cars normally come with a manufacturer's warranty, but if your warranty runs out, or you purchase a used car that does not have a warranty, you can purchase one yourself.

A manufacturer’s car warranty protects you from the financial cost of repairing any problems, and will typically last for a fixed period of one to five years, but in some cases, this can be longer.

There will also be a mileage limit which, if reached before the warranty period ends, stops the warranty cover. At the end of the warranty period, or when you exceed the stated mileage, the warranty is no longer valid. You will then have the option of purchasing another extended car warranty that starts after the standard deal ends.

A manufacturer’s warranty is free of charge, but a car dealer may offer to sell you an extended warranty when you buy the car that covers a period beyond the standard agreement.

What is covered on a car warranty?

Modern vehicles are generally reliable, but due to their sophisticated electronic systems, they are more complex than cars used to be with. As a result, this means there’s more that can potentially go wrong. There is no such thing as a 100% reliable car, and there is always the possibility of a part failing. If a part is defective, it’s obviously an inconvenience having to take the car back to the garage, but a warranty makes sure that you will not be charged for this.

A warranty will not usually cover what is termed ‘wear and tear’. Parts like tyres, windscreen wipers, brake pads and clutches are expected to wear out over time so will not be covered. An exception is when one of these parts fails on a new car prematurely because it has a fault. If a part wears within the first 90 days, this may not be classed as wear and tear. Batteries will probably not be covered either unless they fail on a new car within a few months

Though brake pads are not covered, the rest of the braking system will be.

Apart from wear and tear, most manufacturers warranties cover all mechanical and electrical parts. If you purchase an extended warranty, there may be exclusions.

Fluids including oil, antifreeze and brake fluids are not covered by a warranty.

Mechanical and electrical faults are covered by the warranty, and some packages have an extended period that covers rust. For example, BMW’s warranty covers parts for three years, but rust for 15.

The warranty will specify that the car has to be regularly serviced and maintained, otherwise the warranty could be void.

Some manufacturers will also include a number of services as part of the new car warranty and could include breakdown cover. The warranty may provide a courtesy or hire car when yours is being repaired.

Items covered by comprehensive car insurance, such as windscreens and accident damage, will not be covered by a warranty. If a part fails because of negligence, then it may not be covered.

Damage classed as cosmetic, such as scratches to the paintwork or scuffed wheels, will probably not be covered by the warranty.

If you modify a new or used car, you could risk voiding the warranty. For example, if you change the car suspension or alter the engine tuning, this could cause problems claiming under the warranty.

If the car is used for motorsports or as a taxi, it may not be covered.

Lastly, be away that if a part fails, expect it to be replaced rather than repaired.

What is covered in a 3 month car warranty?

Many used car dealers will provide a warranty for three months or more. If you buy a car that’s less than three years old, they may provide a 12-month warranty.

Some three-month car warranties offer similar cover to a manufacturer’s warranty, but many are limited. Also, not all used car dealers will provide a warranty at all, and it is unusual for a private seller to offer one. In these cases, you have the option of purchasing an extended car warranty.

What does a used car warranty cover?

Used car warranties provided by a motor dealer will usually be limited. You have the option of purchasing a warranty from a provider, and this could cover you for more.

If the car is less than three years old, it may still be covered by the time remaining on the manufacturer's warranty, so look into this before arranging cover.

There is no legal requirement for a used car to come with a warranty, but if it breaks down soon after purchasing, you may be able to make a claim against the seller. By law, a used car should be of “satisfactory” quality for its age and mileage. It must comply with the seller's description of the car, either in adverts or as discussed by the salesperson. It must be fit for purpose and be able to be driven from A to B.

Should there be a major parts failure within six months, you can take the car back to the dealer claiming that the problem was there when the car was sold. If the dealer refuses, they may offer to pay part of the cost or deny your claim. If you are not satisfied, you can complain to the Consumer Ombudsman or take legal action. Proving that the car was defective when sold may not be easy and it could take a long time for a complaint to be resolved. To avoid the stress this could cause, it’s probably better to take out a used car warranty.

Some used car warranties will expect you to pay a portion of the repair costs. The cover will last for a time period but there will be a mileage limit, which when reached, ends the cover even if there is still time left on the warranty.

Most warranty companies will not cover a car that is over ten years old or with a mileage exceeding 100,000. Any car worth less than £1,000 is probably not worth covering by a warranty as it will be very expensive.

Many warranties have a maximum claim limit, and this can either be for a single claim or the maximum amount that can be claimed during the year. If the repair exceeds the maximum claim limit, you will need to stump up the difference.

What’s covered varies depending on the warranty company’s terms and conditions, so always shop around for good cover at reasonable prices.

If your car needs repairing, you may have to pay for the repairs then claim the money back from the warranty company. Before booking a car in for repairs, check with the warranty company, as they may require you to use a garage approved by them. They could also restrict the amount they will pay for labour charges.

Used car warranties will require you to have the car regularly serviced and maintained. The service does not necessarily have to be at the main car dealership for your make of car, but you may have to use a garage that uses original manufacturer's parts. Make sure that you have the documents with the full service history. Some companies offer a package that, for a yearly or monthly payment, covers faults and services.

You need to be covered by what is termed ‘consequential loss’, which is where one part failure causes the failure of other parts. An example of this is a water pump failing and affecting other components. Some warranties may only replace the water pump. Others may restrict the amount they pay out for multiple part replacements.

Make sure that you read all the terms and conditions of your car warranty so that you know what is and isn’t covered. Ideally, your warranty should cover:

  • The engine
  • Fuel and ignition systems
  • Gearbox
  • Electrical components
  • Suspension
  • Steering
  • Clutch
  • ABS braking system
  • Ignition
  • Cooling system

Some warranties may have a ”betterment” clause. If a new part is fitted that adds value to your car, you may be expected to pay part of the cost.

Does car warranty cover turbo cars?

Most car manufacturers offer a warranty for turbo cars, or two years or more, subject to a mileage limit. If a turbo car is faulty, it will usually break down within two years, so a 24-month warranty should be adequate.

A turbocharged car will usually have a one-year warranty. If a turbo car is supercharged for motorsport purposes, it will not be covered by a manufacturer's warranty.

At Car.co.uk, we want you to enjoy many years of trouble-free motoring, but if your car does break down, a warranty means that you are not faced with the financial burden of large repair bills.

A car warranty, breakdown cover and comprehensive car insurance are three ways to cover yourself for unexpected bills. A warranty, unlike insurance is not a legal requirement, but it does provide the peace of mind in knowing that you’re covered if parts fails.