So you're about to buy a car. All that's left to do is cross the i's and dot the t's. But what's this you see? The car dealer is asking if you want the extended warranty. Of course, you do, right? Or maybe not. Now you're confused. If only there were some information on extended car warranties previously available along your car-buying journey.
Fortunately, now there is, and we've put this guide together detailing everything there is to know about buying an extended warranty when you purchase a used car. So read on and find out all about car warranties and if they're right for you.
A bit tight on time? Take a look at Kathryn's video covering everything you need to know about extended car warranties 👇
What is a car warranty?
Car warranty essentially covers you if your new vehicle breaks down and requires maintenance. It's also referred to as "mechanical breakdown insurance" and insures you against the cost of parts and labour should you need to take your car to a repair garage.
Most new car dealerships include three-year warranties for breakdown with their new vehicles, but it's not as common when buying a used car – although some dealers do offer a 12-month guarantee. You can get used car warranties from the dealership or a third party, and they typically cover a specific time frame, be it 12 months or two to three years. Alternatively, they may cover you up to a certain mileage, like 60,000 miles.
What does an extended car warranty cover?
No extended warranty is the same, and the parts and labour covered for each one vary. That's why it's really important to read the small print and understand what you are and are not covered for. As a rule of thumb, the higher the cost of the warranty, the more you're covered for when it comes to parts and labour.
If you get your warranty from the car dealership, then you'll likely need to get the car serviced there too, otherwise, it may invalidate the warranty. Alternatively, you can get an "aftermarket warranty", which covers the same aspects as other warranties but is provided by a third party. You could search for a product like this online and could be a good idea to do this before you go to the dealership, so you can understand if what they are offering you is a good deal or not!
Does an extended warranty cover air conditioning faults?
Air conditioning is not always included as a standard, so you should check your policy and ensure that it's mentioned if this is important to you.
Does an extended warranty cover my windshield?
This is only likely to be covered in the case that the windscreen damage can be attributed to a manufacturing defect. It's likely to be checked by an independent inspector if you want to claim for your windshield. There are specific 'windshield warranties', which you can purchase separately if this is something you're particularly worried about.
Does an extended warranty cover the battery?
The battery is likely to be covered by a manufacturer's warranty, however, it may not be included in an extended warranty. If the car is older than 3 years, it's not likely to be covered by the original manufacturer's warranty anymore, so this is one to double-check on any extended warranty you may be purchasing.
Does an extended warranty cover electrical issues?
There are many different electrical faults, but often the first thing to check is the battery (see above).
Another common electrical issue is the alternator. These are usually covered in an extended warranty, and are also covered in the manufacturer's warranty as they're made to last for a long time, around 100,000 miles!
One other common electrical issue to mention is blown fuses. These won't usually be covered in an extended warranty, but they're super easy to change (for anyone who knows how to use google!), and very cheap to buy.
Does an extended warranty cover labour?
The short answer is yes, with a little 'but' to consider. Usually, the labour costs are only covered if completed by an approved garage. This is to minimise insurance fraud and ensure your work is completed by a reputable professional.
Does an extended warranty cover paint?
This one depends on the issue with the paint. Firstly, if you scratch, dent or spill something corrosive on your paintwork (i.e. it's your fault or another member of the public), this generally won't be covered. However, if the paint starts to flake, degrade or bubble, then this should be covered under your manufacturer's warranty, as it's the fault of the manufacturer and poor quality paint. For used car extended warranties, you can be pretty sure that paintwork is not covered.
How much does an extended car warranty cost?
Several factors go into the cost of extended car warranties, so don't expect a one-size-fits-all approach. The car's value plays a key role – the more expensive the vehicle, the higher the warranty. Higher-value cars are costly to repair, with parts being more expensive than a lower-priced car.
Age of the car
The car's age will also come into play, with older vehicles seen as riskier options than new models. That's not to say an older car will definitely break down, but insurers see them as more susceptible to issues and therefore may hike up the cost of the warranty.
Miles on the clock
The mileage of your car will also be taken into account. Higher-mileage cars are more likely to require repairs at some stage, so if you're buying something with more than 60,000 miles on the clock, you could end up paying a higher warranty.
Type of warranty
The type of cover you opt for and how long it's in place will also dictate the price you pay. Some providers may just cover the engine or mechanics, while others may include wear and tear, windscreen repair or tyre replacement. The more add-ons you have, the higher the final price.
Can I negotiate on the price of my extended warranty?
You should always negotiate. If there's one thing you learn from this blog... it's that you should never take someone's first price for anything! For many dealerships, the extended warranty is an add-on, and they make quite a decent margin on it. You could try to get a discount on the warranty itself, or perhaps they are able to knock off a little on the price of the car. After all, if you've got to take a warranty, that means they're expecting something might go wrong... so the car's not perfect! 😉
Should you get a car warranty?
The million-dollar (or pound?) question – should you get an extended car warranty? The answer isn't a straightforward "yes" or "no", but there are some indicators to help you decide if extended car warranties are right for you.
Some dealers offer a warranty when you buy a car, which can last for anywhere between three months and a year. So you're essentially deciding if you want to extend the warranty beyond this time. If you're paying £300-plus for an extended warranty, ask yourself whether you really want to purchase a car that's likely to cost you that much money in repairs in the short term.
It means you might be buying a vehicle that's only going to cause you further trouble down the line. Perhaps you should look at something slightly more robust without the need to worry about an extended warranty.
Understanding car warranty jargon
There's lots of jargon involved with car warranties. And we've put some key terms together, so you don't need to be confused when going through the finer print.
- Age limit – most warranties have pre-set age limits for the car
- Wear and tear – car parts that break down because of wear and tear aren't typically provided in car warranties
- Betterment – you may be expected to pay extra if a repair or new parts increase the value of your car
- Warning lights – ignoring car warning lights could see you invalidate your car's warranty
- Mileage – check the mileage to see if there are any limits for the warranty
- Regulated provider – your warranty provider should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
Can I cancel or get a refund on my car warranty?
As with many legal agreements, you'll be given a 14-day cooling-off period, where you can easily cancel if you think you've made a mistake. After that, things get a bit more complicated. If you think you might cancel, we'd recommend setting yourself a reminder in the calendar for 10 days after you bought it, so you've got enough time. If you do find yourself outside the 14 days, get in touch with your warranty provider as soon as you can, and discuss it with them directly. We'd also advise that you make sure to read through the terms and conditions of your warranty, as this should let you know what happens after the initial 14 days cooling-off period.
Where can I get an extended car warranty?
You don't simply have to accept the extended warranty offered to you by the dealer. There are plenty of places you can get an extended car warranty online after you purchase the car. Check out comparison websites to get different quotes, and choose the one that suits your needs the best. Think about the age of your car, have a google of what might likely go wrong with it in the near future, i.e. "Common faults with Mini Cooper S 2011 at 60,000 miles", and use this information to ensure you get cover for the right things. We'd recommend you purchase a warranty that's affiliated with The Motor Ombudsman’s Vehicle Warranty Products Code. These are backed by trading standards, and you can complain to the Motor Ombudsman if something really bad goes wrong.
Extending car warranties
Whatever your decision for extended car warranties, it's vital you have all the information to hand. Then you can make a decision that you feel comfortable with and focus on the best parts of buying a new car – like turning on the ignition, turning up the sound to your favourite song and driving where the road takes you. Or, you know, just feeling really happy that you've made the right choice about your extended car warranty.