A vehicle warranty, or mechanical breakdown insurance as it’s also known, is designed to protect motorists against the sudden, unforeseen cost of necessary mechanical repairs to their car, van or motorcycle. With warranties available for both new and used vehicles, these policies can help drivers pay for both parts and labour if their vehicle breaks down. Compare quotes from the vehicle warranty specialists below.
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When you buy a brand-new car, van or motorcycle it will always come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which will usually be valid for three years or 60,000 miles – whichever milestone you reach first.
If you buy the vehicle second-hand you will sometimes receive a ‘dealer’s warranty’ or ‘used vehicle warranty’, particularly if you buy it from a franchised dealership. However, these warranties often impose far more limitations and exclusions than a manufacturer’s warranty is likely to do, and often expire more quickly as well.
In fact, some dealer’s warranties may only be valid for as little as one month, while some smaller car dealerships that aren’t part of a larger franchise may not offer a used car warranty at all.
No matter which type of warranty you receive with the vehicle, though, and no matter how long it’s valid for, it’s eventually going to expire and when that happens you’ll be responsible for covering the cost of repairs yourself…unless you take out a new warranty, that is.
Why should I take out a vehicle warranty?
If you’ve bought a used car, van or motorcycle and it didn’t come with a dealer’s warranty (or it did, but that warranty has now expired) there are a number of reasons you might want to take out your own warranty:
- It can protect you against unexpected costs: It probably goes without saying that many used cars are more likely to suffer a mechanical fault than a brand new vehicle, but even so no one buys a car assuming it’s going to break down. Mechanical faults, and their related costs, often come as an unexpected blow, then – and a vehicle warranty could help to cushion that blow.
- It can sometimes prove cheaper than the cost of repairs: As with other types of insurance, there is a distinct possibility you might pay for a van warranty or car warranty each month and yet never have to use it. If your vehicle does suffer a mechanical failure at some stage and you have a suitable warranty in place, though, you could find that the total cost of those repairs might have amounted to rather more than you’ve paid for the warranty.
- It can sometimes cover other expenses beyond the actual repairs: Many vehicles aren’t repaired the same day, so if your car or van suffers a mechanical fault it may well be out of action for a few days or even weeks. Fortunately some of the better vehicle warranties sometimes include cover for related costs beyond the repairs, such as car hire or overnight accommodation.
How long is a vehicle warranty valid for?
The manufacturer’s warranty is usually valid for three years, while a dealer’s warranty may be valid for any period from one week to two years.
When you take out your own motorbike warranty or car warranty, though, it’s usually valid for a period of 12 months, although some insurance companies do offer six month warranties.
What will a vehicle warranty cover?
A vehicle warranty will usually provide cover for some or all the following:
- The cost of repairing mechanical and electrical faults, including replacement parts and labour costs
- Replacement parts required due to general wear and tear
- Cover for failures caused by non-insured parts
- Cover for failures identified during the MOT check or routine servicing
- Reasonable diagnosis costs
Some of the best warranties may also provide cover for some of the following:
- Car hire while your vehicle is being repaired
- Overnight accommodation if you break down while you’re away from home
- European cover if you suffer a mechanical fault while driving your vehicle in the EU
It is always advisable to take your time and compare all the options when choosing any type of insurance product, and a vehicle warranty is no different. Policies can include a wide range of inclusions and exclusions, so it’s important to carefully read over the details before signing on that dotted line.
Does my car qualify for an extended vehicle warranty?
Some vehicles won’t qualify for some warranties – if your car is too old or has too many miles on the clock, for instance.
Each warranty provider will have its own qualifying criteria, but typical limitations might include:
- Maximum Age to Start cover
- Maximum Age to End cover
- Maximum Mileage to Start cover
- Maximum Mileage to End cover
It’s your responsibility to ensure that your vehicle meets these conditions, and if you take out a warranty when your car, van or motorbike fails to meet one of the provider’s qualifying criteria your warranty could be invalidated.
Do I still need car insurance if I have a car warranty?
Yes, car warranties (and other vehicle warranties, for that matter) only cover the cost of repairing mechanical or electrical faults. You will still need to take out a regular car insurance policy – and, in fact, every driver is legally obliged to do so.
Doesn’t my car insurance policy cover the cost of mechanical failure?
No, car insurance policies are designed to protect yourself and/or other motorists against the risk of damage to the vehicle or personal injury to the occupants during a road traffic accident, while some policies also protect you against theft, fire and a number of other incidents.
Car insurance doesn’t cover the cost of repairing a vehicle’s mechanical fault or electrical fault, unless it has been directly caused by an accident that you are claiming for. So if the issue has been caused by general wear and tear you’re out of luck.