One of the things that tempt buyers towards car dealers for both new and used cars is the warranty, the fact that there is one and it is a warranty that they can understand.

The situation with car warranties on a purchase can be confusing, to say the least, once you stray outside the standard manufacturer’s warranty on a new car.  There are lots of different types of warranty on offer from the comprehensive to the non-existent and with no standardisation across the motor industry, every warranty has to be considered individually.  This is coupled with some confusion over the rights of the car buyer when something goes wrong. Without further ado, Show Plates Express explains more about car warranties that can save you time, and money.

Don’t mix up warranties with your legal rights

Your rights at law are nothing to do with the warranty on a vehicle you intend to buy.  Any car, new or old, bought from a motor trader is covered by the Consumer Rights Act of 2015.  This gives you the right to reject the car if it is not as described or is faulty and this has nothing to do with the warranty.  Plus, under the 1988 Road Traffic Act, it is an offence for a trader to sell a vehicle which is not roadworthy unless the buyer has been made aware of this and intends to do the car up, a ‘fixer-upper’, and has no intention of driving it in its current state.

Under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, the trader cannot negotiate with customers so that they waive their rights in return for some sort of incentive or discount.  Nor can a trader disclaim himself out of the rights and try and avoid the law by some clever term in a warranty or other sales document.

What is a faulty car?

How long is a piece of string!  There is no specific legal description of what constitutes a faulty car as it would be impossible to corral all the potential different problems.  Generally, a faulty car so one which falls within the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 would be one which had an issue affecting its roadworthiness or safety.  More minor faults like paintwork defects or a broken music system would not be an acceptable reason to reject the car under the Consumer Rights Act.  Age, mileage and general condition will be taken into account when determining what is a fault; a fault on a car that is less than two years’ old and which has done under 20,000 miles might not be a fault on the same or a similar car when it is ten years’ old and has done 100,000.  A car with a fault is not necessarily a faulty car.

What is a used car warranty?

Think of a used car warranty as an extra layer on top of your statutory rights.  It is not a question of legal rights versus warranty but the warranty is an enhancement and may cover an additional range of faults which would not constitute a reason to reject the car at law.  Within the category of warranty, there are a few different types:-

  • New car warranty- these usually run for three or sometimes five years and if you buy a used car that is still quite young then the manufacturer’s warranty will automatically transfer to you as the new owner if it has any time left to run. In order to invoke the warranty if there is a problem, the car will need a service record which is in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines although this does not now have to be done by a main franchised dealer
  • Extended warranties – if you have a new car or a used car with warranty still left to run then as the manufacturer’s warranty comes to an end, you may be offered the chance of an extended warranty for which you will have to pay.  Just check out the terms carefully as this will probably not be on the same favourable basis as the original warranty issued when the car was brand new
  • Used car warranties – most dealers will have a used car warranty which they add to the sale of their cars and these usually run for twelve months. These are nothing to do with the manufacturer and are usually managed by a third party insurer on behalf of the motor dealer.  Sometimes these warranties require you to service the car for the period of the warranty at that motor dealer; this is not like the manufacturer’s warranty which accompanies a new car, it is a perfectly valid term of the agreement so it is enforceable
  • Aftermarket used car warranty – most car traders offer these and they can vary hugely both in terms of what is offered and how long they run for, anything from three months up a year usually. The process for actually claiming on the warranty will vary and there will normally be a cap on how much money the warranty will contribute towards a repair and that may not be the final bill you have to pay.  It is always really important to read the fine print on these warranties as otherwise, you can make assumptions about what might be covered only to find yourself disappointed and staring at a large garage bill for a costly repair.  High mileage secondhand cars often have a small but very limited warranty but the newer and more expensive the vehicle is then the more comprehensive the warranty normally
  • No warranty at all – it is perfectly legal to sell a car without a warranty but what is not legal is to sell a car that is not a roadworthy condition. It is the old adage of ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘buyer beware’ so you buy the car as seen, it must be as described in the advertisement but the rest of the risk is yours.  There could be many faults which crop up which are costly but are not sufficiently serious to warrant rejecting the vehicle under your rights at law

If you modify the car in any way whether this is adding a personalised number plate or undertaking more serious changes, any warranty will probably not apply to these.