We all know it’s a hassle when something goes wrong with your car, and a potentially expensive one at that. While your insurance policy should cover you for the big stuff - like if your car is damaged in an accident or is vandalised - it won’t cover you for general repairs when they’re needed; meaning you need to fork out at the local garage to get your car fixed.
This is where a used car warranty comes in. Warranties, put into simple terms, are an agreement with your car manufacturer or dealer that they’ll repair your car in the event of a defect or fault without you having to foot the bill.
Because of the additional cover a warranty provides, as well as the potential to cut repair costs, they’re often seen as beneficial. However, there are some limitations with warranties, prompting the question as to how worthwhile they really are. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about used car warranties, so you can decide if having one is worth it for you.
How do used car warranties work?
When you buy a car from brand new, they will often automatically come with a warranty from the manufacturer. These warranties tend to provide cover for 3 years, but can last as many as 7 in some cases.
As cars tend to be older if you’re buying second hand, there’s a good chance any used car you buy will no longer be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. This is why many people choose to buy a used car warranty, in order to ensure they still have this cover despite their car not being brand new.
Some dealers will include a warranty as standard with any purchased vehicle, but these tend to only last for short time or a set number of miles, meaning you won’t be covered for any repairs after this point.
Most dealers will offer you the option to extend your warranty past this point for a fee (of which can vary depending on the dealer and the level of cover). Different dealers offer different lengths of extension, but they tend to have options for 18 to 36 months. This means you’re covered for a longer period and have support if something goes wrong further down the line.
Are there limitations with used car warranties?
Although warranties can be hugely beneficial in the cover they provide, they won’t always cover you for everything.
Limitations will apply to most warranties, such as not covering wear-and-tear or items such as tyres, wipers and batteries. This means you will still need to budget for any repairs involving these.
Another issue with warranties to bear in mind are that you may have to pay an excess, similarly to how you would with your insurance policy. For example, your warranty may only cover repairs up to £500, so if any repairs cost more than this, you will be required to pay the difference. Any excesses will need to be budgeted for additionally, so it’s worth taking this into account when deciding whether to get a warranty or not.
There may be other limitations with your warranty, so it’s vital that you read the small print to check what’s included. Many dealers will offer the option to upgrade your warranty to a higher level of cover, but as you may expect, this will cost you additionally.
Is it worth having a warranty on a used car?
As we’ve already touched on, most used cars will come with a standard warranty that lasts for at least a few months from purchase. These are included in the price, so buying from a dealer which offers this is definitely a bonus when you first purchase your car.
However, it’s after this initial period that you’ll need to consider whether extending your warranty is worthwhile. Warranties can be expensive, particularly if you choose to upgrade to a higher level of cover, which may be off-putting to some.
Despite the cost attached to a warranty, it can still save you money in the long run. Research suggests the average motorist is spending £574 on repairs each year. With a warranty costing less than this, having one could help you avoid hefty repair bills. It’s important to remember, however, that not everything will be covered by a warranty, so you’ll still need to pay for repairs that fall outside of the cover you have.
Whether a warranty is worthwhile or not really boils down to what cover you can get. If the warranty covers most things, it’s more likely to save you money on repairs and be cost-effective. If it seems like the warranty covers relatively little or if the cost of repairs covered is limited, you may need to fork out additionally and won’t save so much money in the long run
One thing that a warranty will offer, however, is peace of mind. If you’ve just purchased your dream car or that classic model you’ve always had your eye on, you’ll naturally want to keep it in the best condition and have protection if anything goes wrong. A warranty will provide this protection, so you can feel comfortable that any issues can be fixed simply. If this sounds like something that’s important to you, a warranty is likely to be worth the money.
If you want to find out more about warranties before you decide to buy one, check out our Ins and Outs Guide to Used Car Warranties.