So why have car warranty companies got a sketchy reputation? We think there are two reasons, one is that some warranties are not worth the paper they are written on with other warranties being then damned by association and two, some car owners have an unrealistic expectation of what their warranty will deliver and are therefore apt to grumble (often on social media). There is probably nothing on God’s earth more boring that reading small print on an insurance document but nonetheless, it’s probably a good idea to lock yourself away in a broom cupboard with a cup of tea and do just that. The terms and conditions of a warranty determine its worth.
You will find that when you purchase a second hand car from a dealer, it often comes with a warranty for 3, 6 or 12 months. And it has been suggested that, on occasions these warranties are little more than a means for dealers to pass on the responsibility for vehicles they sell to someone else. And that ‘someone else’ has written into their warranties so many exclusions that they have virtually no value. Now these policies (and we have seen them) give the industry a bad name but I am glad to say, things are improving.
And the 2015 Consumer Rights Act certainly helps. Let’s be very clear here, a car dealer still has responsibilities under the Act whether or not a warranty is included in the contract of sale. If you have an issue with a second hand car bought from a dealer don’t assume that the warranty is the only available means of redress. A dealer cannot by-pass its obligations under the law by passing the buck to the warranty company.
So, the question is, how can we distinguish between a good warranty and a bad warranty? A good warranty is essentially designed to provide peace of mind and a means for the motorist to manage his or her motoring budget. A bad warranty is full of unfair exclusions, its conditions are usually unclear with a claims procedure which is more often than not, purposefully tortuous.
A warranty is effectively a specialist insurance product which has a place, largely because cars are unpredictable and unreliable. It is not unusual to receive a bill for several hundred pounds or much more, for car repairs and the problem is that this can strike any make or model whether the car is new or old. A warranty will enable you to pay for your repairs through a managed, monthly, fixed premium and eradicate the risk of an unexpectedly high repair bill.
Now, we at wisercarbuyer.com are generally not known for our willingness to spend money. We are a bit tight really but we are generally in favour of warranties. Why? Because cars are complicated and repairs can be expensive and it’s no fun always worrying about whether you can afford the next repair bill. Most of us prefer the care free motoring that comes with a good warranty. And furthermore, the industry has done a lot to restore its reputation by tackling head-on, some of the problems associated with its former lack of transparency.
Now the disclaimer. It is important to stress that a warranty purchased for a second hand car is not usually as comprehensive as the warranty you get on a new car. For example, diagnostics are not normally included which means if a warning lights comes on, it will be your responsibility to diagnose the problem before the repair will be authorised. It is probably worth getting the maximum cover you can afford as there is nothing more frustrating than paying out for a policy and then finding that when the car goes wrong the fault is not covered.
Remember also that as a car ages parts start to wear out and a standard warranty will not cover ‘fair wear and tear’. If items such as brakes discs, ball joints, and suspension parts need replacing, the strong likelihood is that these will be deemed ‘fair wear and tear’, so don’t expect them to be covered under your policy.
And finally a special plug for Warranty Wise which has done so much to restore the position of warranties as an important and reputable add-on to the motor after sales market with their clear and transparent products and easy to navigate website. We will happily recommend their warranties.