Extended car warranty: should you get a used car warranty?

Is it worth taking out an extended car warranty? See our full guide and prices

BuyaCar team
Jun 15, 2021

We all dream of finding the perfect used car that's great value for money, perfectly clean, and brilliantly maintained. But there's no way of knowing what kind of nightmares could be waiting for you once that car is outside your home. After all, no matter how good a used car seems when you buy it, there’s no guarantee it’ll be faultless in the years to come. All it takes is for something under the bonnet to go bang, and that perfectly clean car you bought could become a huge blot on your bank account.

If you're keen to avoid that very worst-case scenario, you'll want to take a look at an extended car warranty. Even if you've bought a used car, there will be protection available to ensure your good investment doesn't turn sour. The best types will cover all mechanical and electrical parts, as well as additional features like air-conditioning and airbags. The cost of labour to fix these parts is also included in more comprehensive policies.

All new cars are sold with a warranty; in some cases, a manufacturer will offer a five-year or even a seven-year period of protection. So if you're buying a used car that's only two or three years old, it's likely there may still be several years of that initial warranty left on the car. So it's worth checking whether the car your buying is already covered before you start thinking about an extended car warranty.

Is an extended used car warranty worth it?

Like most insurance policies, an extended warranty is something you pay for in the hope that you’ll never need to use it. For many owners, the peace of mind alone is worth the price; even if your car is built by a brand renowned for its reliability, there's always a risk that something could go wrong. And if things do go wrong, then a single claim could be worth more than the entire premium.

Honda is rated as the most dependable manufacturer by Warrantywise, but on the odd occasion that something goes wrong, the company says that the average repair cost is £535. Other brands rated highly for their reliability include Toyota, with an average repair cost of £592 and Suzuki at £424.

These prices are generally higher for more upmarket brands: Mercedes is rated by Warrantywise as having average reliability, with a £751 average repair cost, while Audi has a similar reliability score and a £620 average repair cost.

Considering you can get yourself a used-car warranty with BuyaCar for £299 per year, it doesn't take much to see how much money you could save if the worst was to happen.

What does an extended used car warranty cover?

Extended car warranty: inside bonnet

The best policies will pay for repair or replacement to all mechanical and electrical components that suddenly and unexpectedly fail. This includes the most expensive parts, such as the engine, gearbox, suspension and the car’s computer (known as the ECU).

Other potentially costly parts such as the air-conditioning system, dashboard screens and airbags are also partly covered by the most comprehensive warranties. Ideally, these parts will be repaired or replaced at full cost to the warranty provider - apart from any excess that’s agreed at the start of the policy.

Watch out for some companies that apply betterment, which may require you to pay a proportion of the cost in situations where a new part is thought to improve your car’s condition or value.

Parts excluded from extended warranties

Several parts are not normally covered, including frequently damaged items such as windscreens, wheels, tyres and the car’s bodywork: your warranty won’t cover you if someone scrapes your door in a car park, for example.

Worn out components aren’t covered either: extended warranties aren’t designed to cover old and well-used parts, which have come to the end of their working lives. This includes parts such as gearboxes, clutches and braking components, which are generally covered if they fail in other circumstances.

The expensive batteries in hybrid and electric cars may not be covered by an extended warranty either. Manufacturer battery cover is usually extensive, lasting for five or more years, but if this has expired, then you may require a specialist policy - potentially from the manufacturer.

You’ll need to ensure that your car is serviced on time and that you report issues, such as strange noises or dashboard warning lights, immediately or the warranty company may refuse to pay out.

How do you claim on an extended car warranty?

Mechanic inspecting car with extended warranty

Warranty companies typically have an emergency phone line to report problems or breakdowns and there’s normally an out of hours service.

Call centre staff should arrange for your car to be repaired or recovered at the roadside, if needed, and will also be able to advise on the company’s car hire and hotel expenses policies.

Repairs or inspections need to be agreed in advance. Your warranty company will usually pay for these directly if they are carried out by a repair firm that’s approved by them.

You may have the option of choosing your own repair company. If this is the case, then you’re likely to have to pay for the work yourself and then claim it back later - but you’ll still need to get it authorised first.

Extended car warranty: age limits

As vehicles get older and increasing numbers of components wear out, it gets more difficult and more expensive to take out warranty cover.

In many cases, policies will also offer less protection. For example, Warrantywise will only offer protection against sudden and unexpected failure due to wear and tear on vehicles that are less than ten years old, and with under 100,000 miles on the clock.

Once your car has reached 15 years old, or has covered 150,000 miles, then it no longer offers any warranty protection.

 

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