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Understanding the Small Print on a Car Warranty

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 22 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Small Print Warranty Car Vehicle

If you’ve watched a car commercial recently, then chances are that you will have noticed that car warranties are now big selling points in the battle to win over new customers.

Car manufacturers have been clambering all over each other to offer the longest warranties on their new vehicles, with Vauxhall the most recent car maker to announce a ‘lifetime’ warranty, that guarantees to last until the car reaches a mileage of 100,000 miles.

For those people who are not buying a brand new car, their warranty on their current vehicle might have already expired. Should they then take out an extended warranty to cover the cost of repairs to their car?

What you get in your car warranty might not be as straightforward as you think, and not all warranties offer good value for money. If you are looking to take out a warranty make sure you take a look at the small print in order to avoid any potential pitfalls when it comes to your car cover.

Is the Warranty Legally Binding?

Other companies, apart from the car manufacturers themselves, now offer warranties on all sorts of vehicle. These warranty providers should be signed up to the Motor Industry Code of Practice, a trade body that is responsible for ensuring that certain levels of customer service and consumer protect are met for anyone taking out one of their policies.

The Code also tries to ensure that the claims procedure for the warranty is straightforward enough to make it relatively simple and straightforward.

Is the Warranty Simple to Understand?

Part of the Code includes ensuring that the warranty is written in clear and concise language, with written summaries of the most important points.

Any company signed up to the Code is required to ensure that their literature is clear enough so that anyone signing the agreement understands precisely what they are getting for their money, and what is required of the owner of the vehicle in order to ensure that they stay within the terms and conditions of the warranty.

Understanding what is Covered

As already mentioned, car manufacturers are now offering longer and longer warranties with new vehicles. Even with these warranties, however, it is important to check the policy to understand what precisely is covered, and for how long.

For example, some car companies, such as Kia, are offering warranties with ‘unlimited’ mileage, although on closer inspection this unlimited offer only applies for the first three years of cover. Between four and seven years the cover is limited to 100,000 miles.

Paintwork is another area where cover may be less impressive than it first sounds. Again, ‘unlimited’ can often only apply to the first five years or 100,000 miles. Similar restrictions can also apply to audio equipment, such as a car stereo, or even the car battery.

It is also worth pointing out that with all car warranties normal ‘wear and tear’ for things like brake pads and discs, or the clutch, are not included in the cover.

Where will the Repair Work be Done?

Again, it is important to read the small print before you decide to arrange for any work done. Some warranties can become void if the work required is not undertaken at a nominated garage or with a dealership, or with official manufacturer’s parts.

Also, some warranties specify that regular services must be undertaken in order to ensure that the warranty does not lapse. Should you forget to keep your car's service history up to date, the warranty could turn out to be useless.

Car warranties can be extremely useful and a relatively inexpensive way of ensuring that your vehicle remains in tip top condition, although to make sure that you get the best out of your warranty, it makes sense to read the small print.

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