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Should you buy a used car warranty?

Is a used car warranty essential or is it cheaper to pay for repairs upfront? Our guide explains how used car warranties work and whether they are worth the expense.

Whether you’ve reached the end of the warranty supplied by your manufacturer or you’ve just invested in a used car there is a wealth of third- party warranties that profess to give you financial peace -of- mind by taking care of the garage bill if you encounter any issues with your car.

What does a used car warranty cover?

We took a closer look at several third- party warranties to see if the cost of cover they provide is any less than the repair charges you could face at your local garage. What we discovered were terms, conditions and caveats aplenty all designed to limit when the provider has to pay out. The reams of small print can be baffling and contradictory: if a warning light prompts a trip to the garage and a fault is discovered your warranty may not cover it. But if you ignore the warning and let the part break this can invalidate your claim – a catch 22 and one of several confusing examples. Our A-Z of terms and conditions further down the page should help you decode the lingo.

The cost of car cover.

Using data from our car survey we compared the cost of car cover, and extended manufacturers’ warranties with the average yearly repair bill for a family car between four and seven years old. We discovered that the even the cheapest warranty was over £100 pounds more expensive than the average repair cost.

At the other end of the scale some used car warranties cost more than 10 times the average repair bill. A look at the small print shows why some warranties cost up to £643 while others can charge as little as £180 – cheaper warranties are cheaper for a reason.

At the top end, Warrantywise is one of the only companies that covers consequential damage to other parts of your car and the £200 per hour labour limit means your car could be repaired at a franchise dealer. The cheaper cover on the other hand puts strict limits on labour costs unless you use an approved garage.

Most warranties can be tinkered with, but improving the package will increase the price and once you’ve fine-tuned the cover to what you want you may find yourself with a plan that can’t compete with the low average repair costs.

Conversely, don’t be lured into a cheap deal that weasels out of coughing up your repair fees by including a list of terms and conditions as long as your arm.

Should you buy a used car warranty?

It’s difficult to justify the cost of even the cheapest used car warranty when you consider the endless exclusions, pricey premiums and low average expense of yearly repairs.

A car in the garage is already a stressful time and arguing over what constitutes wear and tear with your warranty provider to try and get your garage costs reimbursed is an extra headache you could do without.

We’d recommend setting money aside each year to cover any repairs, but if you’re intent on getting a warranty consider paying for it when you buy your car. These manufacturer extended warranties tend to have fewer exclusions than their third-party rivals.

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