It’s not just the law
that covers you when you buy a new car. The car maker will certainly provide some sort of warranty cover, and it’s possible the dealer themselves will be members of a body and have to abide by their rules, which give you further back-up if things go wrong.
Every new car sold in the UK comes with a warranty, but there is no consistency between the various companies. Not only do they vary considerably in length (from three to seven years), exactly what they cover varies, too. And, there are often bespoke warranties on electric and hybrid vehicles.
As ever, the devil is in the detail, so go through each policy with a fine-tooth comb. Just because a car is covered by a very long warranty, don’t assume everything is covered for that full period.
For instance, if you look into the details of Kia’s seven-year warranty, you’ll find the battery and air-conditioning refrigerant are only covered for two years, while the audio and navigation units are covered for three years, and the paint for five.
Making a claim
If you need to make a claim on your car warranty, your first port of call is a franchised dealer for the make of car in question. Note that this doesn’t have to be the actual dealer from where you bought the car.
If the dealer won’t accept your claim, turn next to the UK head office of the car maker, and if that fails, try speaking to any professional body the dealer may be a member of, such as Motor Codes, or the Retail Motor Industry Federation. Throughout the process, you should keep a record of any communication.
If all else fails, legal action is the only course open to you, but given the potential costs involved – and the chance you won’t win the case – we recommend this really is a last resort.
All cars have a basic mechanical warranty, and this covers pretty much the entire car, with the exception of ‘wear and tear’ items. These are things such as the tryes, brakes and windscreen wipers, which are expected to wear out naturally.
However, there are some other warranties you could look out for:
This typically lasts much longer than the mechanical warranty and, as the name implies, protects you against corrosion on the car’s bodywork. As ever, look at the fine print: you may find that some kinds of corrosion – as a result of accident damage, repairs or pollution – may not be included. Also, you may need to have the car inspected annually to ensure the warranty is valid.
This is very similar to the above, and covers holes in the bodywork caused by rust from the inside or underside that is the result of faulty manufacture.
Sometimes, the car maker will supply a separate warranty for the car’s paintwork. Generally, this only covers manufacturing defects, and will not include problems caused by accident damage, poor care or pollution.
Due to the specialist nature of electric and hybrid cars, they often have specific warranties that cover some of the specialist parts. For instance, on hybrid Toyota models, the hybrid-related components (including the battery and control modules for the battery and hybrid system) are covered by their own warranty, while the batteries in a Nissan Leaf are covered for five years/60,000 miles, two years longer than the standard vehicle warranty.