Before You Buy a Car Warranty, Here’s What You Should Check First

By: Jim Murrayjones

A car warranty is a great way to protect yourself from unexpected repair costs. It gives you peace of mind that, should the worse happen, someone else will pick up the bill. For a major fault like an engine failure, its an expense that can run into the thousands.

But, as with most things in life, not all warranties are created equal. Some, including many manufacturer warranties, can be eye-wateringly expensive. Others have hidden costs, like expensive accompanying servicing plans. A third group have well-disguised clauses in their smallprint, limiting their payout value, or the parts they cover.

So, before you sign the dotted line on a new warranty policy, here’s our guide to help you choose the right product, while seeing through the marketing puff.

Category one: car warranties with hidden small print

Perhaps the craftiest type of warranties are those that use small print in their T&Cs to limit their payout. The key terms to look out for include:

Wear & tear exclusions or deteriortation exclusions

Wear & tear exclusions are common even in the most expensive manufacturer schemes. In simple terms, the car warranty company will refuse a payout if it deems the failure is due to natural wear and tear.
 
The trouble is, as a vehicle ages, wear and tear can be an almost all-encompassing get-out. It’s one reason why most car manufacturers only provide new car warranties for cars up to 3-years old.
 
As well as the age of a vehicle, wear and tear exclusions can be determined by a vehicle’s mileage. For example, two identical Audis both need a new high pressure fuel pump. One vehicle is 3-years old with 30,000 miles, the other 4-years old with 60,000 miles. In most cases a warranty provider would cover the younger car, but in the case of the older vehicle, many providers would deem the fuel pump “worn”, due to additional age and/or mileage.
 
Our top tip: read the small print or speak to your provider to make sure your policy "includes" or covers failures due to wear & tear. A provider like MotorEasy will provide wear and tear cover from day one, following a free vehicle health check.

Consequential damage exclusions

Consquential damage is when something not under warranty damages something that is covered. For example, if a broken alternator belt (not under warranty) tangles with a cambelt and blows the engine. If the warranty company refused to cover consequential damage, the owner could be left to pick up the enture bill.
 
Our top tip: read the small print or speak to your provider to make sure your policy covers failures due to consequential damage. 

Low Claim limit Warranties (or payouts)

It is often the case that cheaper warranty providers have inadequate claim limits, capping the value of the payout and/or the number of claims you can make in a given year. A warranty that limits claims to say £1,000 or £2,000 wouldn’t be much use if your car had an engine seizure, requiring an £8,000 fix.
Our top tip: make sure your warranty plan allows you to make multiple claims up to the value of your car. 

Limited Parts Cover Warranties

As vehicles age, many warranty companies will restrict the number of parts they cover. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that this can provide a get out opportunity when it comes to a warranty claim.

Our top tip: check the list of parts under cover, where possible comparing the quoted provider against another company like MotorEasy. We’re confident that, in our case, you’ll find a comprehensive level of parts cover. And, if you choose one of our Plan A schemes, you’ll effectively find every part covered.

Warranty Plans that do not cover diagnostics

Diagnosing a mechanical or electrical fault can be a sizeable chunk in a workshop invoice. If your warranty provider either doesn’t cover diagnostics or offers a derisory contribution to diagnostics, you could find yourself fronting a nasty bill even before the problem is fixed.
 
Cover for diagnostics can be particularly important if you own a premium brand or live in an expensive part of the country, where labour rates can exceed £200 per hour. 
 
Our top tip: choose a warranty provider like MotorEasy that covers diagnostics. If you want to flex the cost of your warranty cover, you should also look for a provider that gives you the option to choose a garage labour rate.

Car Warranties With Strict Servicing regimes.

Beware if your warranty provider requires you to keep your warranty valid through a Manufacturer approved service outlet. Such servicing centres often charge an extortionate fee, leaving you faced with two options: cough-up and pay the high service price, or risk invalidating your warranty.
 
Our top tip: check the small print to ensure there’s flexibility on where you can service your vehicle. In the case of MotorEasy, we’ll go to great lengths to help you find the best value service centre, often saving up to 40% on the cost of a service through a main dealer.

Category two: expensive Manufacturer Warranty Plans

The manufacturer extended car warranty plan<

Car manufacturer extended warranty plans are often the costliest. Some, including many premium manufacturers, can put a serious dent in your wallet. But expensive does not always mean best.

Before you sign-up to a pricey plan, take a look at the independent discussion forums that cover most car manufacturers. In many cases, you’ll find current owners berating the cost and quality of their extended car warranty plan.
 
Chief amongst the complaints are the exclusion clauses (mentioned above), used to avoid paying out a warranty claim.

Our top tip: check out the forums to see how owners rate their car manufacturer extended warranties.

Category three: clever Marketing disguising hidden costs

The Multi-Year Warranty

5, 7 or even 10-year warranties are a common marketing ploy used by manufacturers to instil a sense of perceived quality and reliability. Very often it can be true; Korean brands like Kia and Hyundai, who use multi-year policies, often top the league tables when it comes to vehicle reliability.
 
But again, you should check the small print. Multi-year providers often use wear and tear exclusions and consequential damage to avoid paying out on certain types of claims. They might also require an overly expensive servicing regime to keep you warranty valid.

Our Top Tip: if you want ultimate peace of mind, consider buying a “wrap warranty”, where an additional warranty customer will agree to step-in and pay for a claim in the event your first-string provider (usually a manufacturer) refuses to payout.

The Lifetime warranty with a bundled service plan

Often advertised as a “Lifetime Warranty”, a car warranty that comes bundled with a service plan might seem too good to be true.
 
While the warranty may seem great value, the accompanying service plan – required to keep the warranty valid – can often be unnecessarily expensive.

Our top tip: check the full cost of warranty plus service plan before you sign up.

Car warranties that leave you stranded at the roadside

It might seem a petty point, but many warranty providers will state they are not liable for costs associated with getting you to a repair workshop. If your car fails by the roadside and you’re not covered by a separate breakdown policy, hiring a recovery vehicle at short notice could prove an expensive and only option.

Our top tip: either take out a separate breakdown policy or sign-up to a warranty that will collect and return your vehicle when a repair is required.

The Not Who You Thought They Were Warranty

Its often the case that many household brand names that sell a warranties, are in fact a marketing label for a warranty plan owned and operated by another company. If and when you need to make a claim, you’ll find yourself speaking to a different company driven by a need to drive short term profits, rather than preserving their Trustpilot or Customer satisfaction score.
 
Our top tip: checkout the Trustpilot score for the operator of the warranty plan, as well as the brand that are apparently fronting the scheme. Make sure you look at both the volume of good and excellent reviews, as well as the poor ratings.

The Secondhand Car dealer “value-add” warranty

It’s a story familiar to many a secondhand  car buyer. You’re wavering over whether to buy a new car, when the dealer offers “to throw-in” a warranty to make it worth your while. In many cases these warranties can be perfectly good, but often times they have low claim-limits and/or exclusion clauses that limit their payout. In the heat of the moment, it can also be easy to overlook the short-period of cover on offer, say three or six months, after which a fault might appear.
 
Our top tip: be wary to the time limit on the warranty and consider buying a “wrap-warranty” to extend and pump-up your level of cover. 

Car Warranties with Added Value…

Warranty Providers that deliver added value.

Rather than find fault in what is missing in a warranty plan, it's also important to look out for the many items of added value that can seriously boost the value of a car warranty.

They include:

  • Free Vehicle Health Checks
  • Cost Effective Servicing and Repairs
  • Passing on Savings to the Car Warranty Buyer
  • The ability to flex the price of your warranty
  • Free pick-up and delivery to and from a repair workshop
  • A dedicated advisor that can assist in the event of a claim

Extended Car Warranties: A view from MotorEasy

Of course, we would say that all the above “health warnings” do not apply when it comes to choosing a  MotorEasy car warranty. Our policies offer wear & tear cover from day one and will also cover consequential damage. They also cover diagnostics, provide a claims limit up to the value of your car and give you the option to flex labour rates and contributions if you want to lower the cost of your premium.
 
Perhaps just as important, we won’t require you to get your vehicle serviced at an extortionate outlet. The opposite is the case: we’ll help you find a cost effective, reliable and high quality workshop that is tried, tested and positively rated by other MotorEasy members.
 
MotorEasy also provide great-value wrap policy options to bolster any existing policy you have with another company.

The value-add Car Warranty

MotorEasy also provide warranty buyers with a host of value-adds, such as a free vehicle healthcheck and comprehensive ways to flex the cost of your warranty plan.  Further customer service benefits include:

  • The option for us to collect and return your vehicle to/from the repair workshop, saving you time, money and the inconvenience of having to take time off work or your free time.
  • A dedicated engineer at the end of a phone, to provide advice on repairs and costs
  • A MotorEasy account packed with money-saving offers and discounts

Our closing top tips on Car Warranties:

While we believe a MotorEasy warranty is the best on the market - providing comprehensive cover at the best price - don’t just take our word for it: shop around for the best deal.
 
If, like most people, you’re not that keen on pouring through the small print on multiple different warranty policies, try checking out a warranty company’s Trustpilot reviews.  If they offer a worthwhile product, you’ll find reams of positive praise. Comments that attest a smooth and efficient claims processes, or highlight a payout that saved the customer from a major financial expense.

We hope the above information will help you spot the hidden costs and pitfalls in sub-standard plans.

If in doubt, speak to one of our team of advisors, who will be happy to provide a tailored warranty plan to best suit the individual needs of you and your vehicle.
 
Get a MotorEasy Car Warranty quote today

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