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Used car warranties explained

Each year more than a million vehicles are rendered unprotected when their original manufacturer's warranty expires. When this happens, car owners become exposed to the risk of expensive repair costs coming out of the blue and running up bills that range from hundreds to even thousands of pounds.

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Modern cars benefit from new technology, however, when they suffer a mechanical or electrical failure they are far more expensive to fix. With some major dealerships charging £200 per hour for repairs, the cost of labour alone can be devastating. Aside from your home, your vehicle is likely to be the biggest investment you’ll make in your life, so it’s worth protecting it against problems.

A used car warranty, sometimes called an extended warranty, can protect your investment against expensive and unforeseen costs. Offering not only roadside assistance following a breakdown, but also often recovery and a courtesy car to use while your vehicle is fixed, warranties can make a difficult situation far easier to deal with and much less disruptive to your day-to-day life.

If the clock is running out on your manufacturer's warranty and you’re looking to extend your protection, read through the following section where you’ll find used car warranties explained in full. Alternatively, you can obtain a used car warranty quote with Car.co.uk.

Used car warranties

If your vehicle is older than three years it’s most likely your original warranty has expired. A used car warranty can act as a safety net if your vehicle should suffer either a mechanical or electrical failure. It’s a kind of extra insurance that covers you against certain types of fault and offers you peace of mind, knowing that if something unfortunate occurs to your vehicle you’ll be taken care of until you’re back on the road.

Can you get warranty on a used car?

You’ll find many companies offering extended car warranties for used cars, but all policies aren’t created equal. Different warranties will offer varying levels of cover, so it’s worth making sure you know exactly what will or won’t be included in your used car warranty before committing to it.

You’ll sometimes discover that a warranty will outline a specific list of around 200 elements in its terms and conditions that will be covered if they fail, but the average car has over 5,000 individual parts. In effect, a warranty such as this usually represents poor value for money. Always read through exactly what’s covered and choose a warranty where all the electrical and mechanical parts of your car are included.

How do used car warranties work?

As mentioned above, a quality warranty will cover all the parts of your vehicle when it comes to any unexpected failure. A used car warranty will usually cover your car up to six years of age, or up to when it’s driven 60,000 miles – whichever is sooner. After these limits have been surpassed, you’ll still be able to find listed part warranty deals that deliver comprehensive cover for your vehicle.

When a mechanical or electrical failure strikes and your car can no longer run, your warranty will cover you for the part to be fixed or replaced at a garage of your choosing after you’ve picked the labour rate you want. If you breakdown by the side of the road, assistance will also be covered, as well as your vehicle being picked up and taken to a garage. If stranded and you require one, you’ll be provided with a hotel and the use of a hire car while your vehicle is fixed.

How the claim is processed will depend on your warranty provider. Most will insist a registered repairer is used to conduct the work. When it comes to payment, some will pay the garage directly, while others will instruct you to pay and reimburse you. Some warranty companies will also supply you with a list of recommended repairers if you’re not sure who to use.

How long does a used car warranty last?

Used car warranties are usually available in three and six-months terms, as well as longer 12-month contracts. You’ll usually find that the older your car is, the shorter the policy offered.

How to buy a warranty for a used car

Just like with any kind of purchase, the quickest and easiest way to buy a used car warranty is to get online and collect a selection of different quotes to compare. Many sites will have online calculator tools that work out the cost of a warranty for your used car. Once you’ve gathered a good range of quotes, study them alongside each, not just in terms of affordability, but the level of cover delivered. When you’ve found the most cost-effective warranty that offers you the best value for your money, you’ll be ready to make an informed decision and get the used car warranty that best suits you.

What does a used car warranty cover?

To qualify for your warranty cover, it’s essential that you’ve kept your vehicle correctly serviced before taking out the warranty. After this, you’ll be protected against premature failure of parts and won’t face a massive unexpected bill without cover.

If an individual part fails to work properly and needs instant replacement or repair, you’ll be covered from day one until it’s working again. You’ll also be protected if this part isn’t functioning properly and is likely to break down before your warranty plan expires after either 1,000 miles or 30 days, or 100,000 miles and up to 10 years of age.

All makes and models can be covered by warranty and a quality plan will cover all parts of your vehicle, not just an exclusive list. Make sure that you read through the itemised list of any warranty before signing up. Most reliable warranty providers will offer a pdf file that you can download to check through before buying.

Warranties are often offered in different levels of cover, from standard to premium, to suit different budgets. You’ll also find optional extras that you can add for a deeper level of cover. Always choose a warranty that suits your affordability and your individual car.

After you choose the labour rate that suits your budget, you can use any repairer that’s VAT registered to carry out your work. This can be useful as you can use a garage near to where you live, making drop-off and collection much easier.

Your warranty will offer you protection in line with the market value of your car at the time you begin your warranty. Over time, your car will naturally depreciate, but your warranty won’t. Each time you need to make a claim, you’ll be protected the same no matter how much retail value your car loses over the years.

A used car warranty will cover you for an unlimited number of vehicle repairs and you’ll always be covered for the retail value of your vehicle at the time you took out your plan.

Unless you opt for it from the start, when your vehicle is assessed by a registered repairer in full and the costs are decided, you’ll never be requested to contribute to the repair bill. If you do decide at the beginning to make a voluntary contribution, you’ll be compensated with a reduction in price.

An extended warranty plan will also cover you with car hire, recovery costs, overnight hotel stays, and travel expenses.

Is it worth buying a warranty on a used car?

The stock of used cars has risen in recent years. No longer the ‘old banger’ heading for the scrapyard, millions of people each year opt to buy a used car over a brand new one. Cars direct from the manufacturer quickly lose most of their value in the first three years and many are choosing to avoid this financial loss and buy used instead. Due to the availability of finance deals, plenty of cars are only driven for a short time before going back on the market with minimum mileage on the clock and in almost new condition.

While a warranty is always a personal choice, a car is a serious investment and often an everyday essential when it comes to getting to work and living our lives. Not only can warranties buy peace of mind but they can pay for unexpected costs when a premature part failure occurs, and cover any disruption to your life until its fixed.

Do dealers give warranty on used cars?

Second-hand cars sold through dealerships are often sold via a scheme called ‘approved used’ and come with an accompanying 12-month warranty. Three and six-month warranties are more common for older vehicles.

Some used car dealers will often sell vehicles with no warranty, but the Consumer Rights Acts affirms that you should still expect any vehicle to be ‘fit for purpose’, ‘as described’, and of ‘satisfactory quality’. If any of these areas are lacking, the dealership is legally obligated to make repairs at its own cost and if the fault remains, you’ll be entitled to a refund.