Explaining the different car warranty options, including after market, independent dealer, manufacturer and breakdown repair.
The car warranty options available to you will depend on whether you are buying a new car, a used car, or if you simply want a warranty for your current vehicle.
In order for the warranty to remain valid, there are usually stringent terms and conditions that you’ll need to adhere to
In recent years many breakdown cover companies, for example the AA, have started to offer breakdown repair or parts and labour cover.
To purchase cover you normally need to have a breakdown cover policy with the provider, or you will be purchasing both the breakdown and the breakdown repair policies together.
In the event of a breakdown your vehicle may need replacement parts or garage labour, and a breakdown repair policy may help to cover the costs. You will not be able to claim if the vehicle does not break down, or if it breaks down at home and you do not have home assistance cover included on the policy.
Available for: New and used cars
Most brand new cars come with a three-year manufacturer's warranty, although some manufacturers provide up to five years' worth of cover (subject to conditions).
Similarly, many of the approved used cars sold by franchised dealers will also benefit from a manufacturer-backed warranty.
These cars are approved because they are returned to the original dealer or manufacturer, usually via part-exchange, before undergoing a detailed pre-sale inspection. If any faults are found, they are fixed; therefore the vehicle is sold as well maintained, in a good state of repair and with no defects.
The level of cover provided by a manufacturer's warranty will vary between manufacturers - some will be more generous than others. Most manufacturers permit unlimited mileage, but some may impose a limit.
In order for the warranty to remain valid, there are usually stringent terms and conditions that you’ll need to adhere to, such as keeping the vehicle in a good state of repair and servicing it in line with the recommended schedule.
Make a point of reading the policy terms to determine whether the policy meets your needs
Available for: New cars and approved used cars
When you buy a car from an independent dealer or car supermarket, you will usually be offered a warranty either as part of the deal or at an additional cost. Normally, independent dealer warranties provide three months’ worth of cover, although they can last for as long as 12 months for premium or prestige vehicles.
With independent dealer warranties the cover offered by different policies can vary drastically, so always read the small print. Most dealers will offer you the option of extending the term of the warranty or upgrading to a better policy – but it's always worth shopping around before buying, particularly if you are concerned that the level of cover on offer may not be entirely suitable for your needs.
As with a manufacturer’s warranty, you’ll need to adhere to certain conditions in order for the warranty to remain valid.
Available for: Used cars
With an after-market warranty you can tailor the level of cover to your personal needs, although the cover options available to you will depend on the age, make and model of your car and your anticipated annual mileage.
Some high performance, collectible or rare vehicles may not qualify and you’ll need to speak to a specialist supplier. If the vehicle is three years old or more you’ll need a current MOT certificate and you’ll normally be expected to provide proof of a service by a VAT-registered garage within the last 12 months.
Policies will vary between the different warranty companies, but whichever one you choose you'll need to follow the recommended service schedule and avoid modifying the vehicle in order for cover to remain valid.
Available for: New and used cars
If you are thinking of buying a car warranty, it's important to read the small print carefully before signing on the dotted line. If you find out exactly what is and isn't included then you can avoid any nasty surprises later.
Likewise, if you have purchased a car from a franchised or independent dealership and you have been provided with a warranty, make a point of reading the policy terms to determine whether the policy meets your needs. If not, you may want to purchase an after-market warranty for additional peace of mind.