As we have already reported in The Car Expert, sales of used cars have taken a sharp upward turn, as buyers spend some of their growing savings, amassed during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Many of those used cars will come with some sort of warranty to cover parts for a short period of time, but anyone who has spent good, hard-saved cash on a decent car should be thinking about buying a used car warranty of their own.
A used car warranty covers you for parts and labour repair costs if your car fails dramatically. They vary greatly and each will have its own cap on age, mileage and the total amount of pay-out, so it’s worth looking carefully at what’s on offer before signing up to anything.
Deciding whether to buy a warranty is a valid consideration for a used car buyer and it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of having the cover in the first place.
For every owner, the situation will be different. Some might have easy access to parts for their car. Others might be a dab-hand at repairs or know someone who can help. A few will have bought a cheaper car that doesn’t even warrant an expensive repair if something goes seriously wrong with it.
But for most people the consideration is this: do I want the peace of mind of having some financial support behind me if my car suddenly needs an expensive fix? Or do I think that my monthly premiums I pay for the warranty cover would work out more than cost of any repair bill I encounter?
Different types of used car warranty
The cost of a warranty will vary according to the age and value of your car plus the mileage it has already done. The level of cover will also have an impact – cover that goes over and above the engine and main mechanicals will raise the premium, but there are lots of extras you can add in.
Anything that can naturally wear out – tyres, battery, exhaust, clutch – will not normally be covered.
So if you’ve bought yourself a used car, or your car has reached the end of its new car warranty, where should you go to find some cover? All the leading used car warranty providers have good websites to guide you through their offerings. All you have to decide is which one is right for you.
The benefit of all these websites is that they are not aimed at serious car lovers, but people who just want to choose the right policy for their needs. Each company has its own strengths and USPs, but all of them offer the time-saving option of being a one-stop shop for your next used car warranty.
They say: We deliver superb value and peace of mind in equal measure
ALA’s warranty is actually called “RAC warranty from ALA”. Until recently, RAC warranties could only be obtained from a garage but it has established a tie-up with ALA Insurance, which was already well-known as a provider of GAP insurance and other specialist automotive insurance policies.
RAC and ALA offer three levels of cover. The top one, Premium Plus, covers most mechanical and electrical components although there are some listed exclusions such as non-mechanical and electrical parts, consumables or complex elements like wiring harnesses. It includes wear-and-tear cover for named components, and diagnostics up to £50.
There’s also Premium, which is similar but doesn’t include wear-and-tear or diagnostics, and Standard, which only covers main components such as gearbox, engine, steering and suspension.
For Premium and Standard cover, cars must be under eight years old and covered less than 80,000 miles and for Premium Plus it’s six years and 60,000 miles. The car must have been serviced within the last 12 months.
- ALA Insurance has a special car warranty offer for The Car Expert readers*
They say: Everything done for you
The website promises to do everything for you and that’s the selling point. Motoreasy provides same-day authorisation for warranty work, handles discussions about any work directly with the repairer in one of its 10,000 garage partners nationwide and can even collect and return your car. It also pays the repair garage direct so you don’t have to get involved.
Unlike some warranties, the Motoreasy ones cover wear and tear, along with overheating faults, air conditioning, emissions failures, in-car entertainment and even satnav faults. Their policies don’t cover accident damage or consumable parts such as brakes pads, wiper blades and clutch plates – unless they were faulty from new.
There are three types of policy to choose from – A, B or C – with A being the most comprehensive, and they offer a lower cost version called Lite which covers repairs following a roadside breakdown. Policies are tailored to suit you so each is differently priced, and you can choose how long you want the cover for: one, two or three years. And you can keep costs further down by agreeing to pay some of the repair costs yourself.
Alternatively, you can add some features in when customising your policy. The additions available include air conditioning, air bag system, electric vehicle parts, multimedia such as CD player or satnav, and MOT failure.
To qualify, your car must not have a pre-existing problem and must have been regularly serviced.
- Motoreasy has a special car warranty offer for The Car Expert readers*
They say: The right warranty for you
The AA is best known as a roadside assistance company so it’s no surprise that 12 months basic breakdown cover is one of the standard features of its used car warranty. With cover provided by Warranty Management Service Ltd, the AA has ten years of experience in this particular field of vehicle insurance.
Almost all mechanical and electrical faults are covered by an AA warranty as is in-car entertainment and remote key fobs, diagnostics, oils, fluids, and parts replaced in pairs such as shock absorbers and springs.
There’s no limit to the number of repairs you can have and the AA has access to a nationwide network of repair shops. If a repair looks like taking a long time, car hire or even overnight accommodation is included in all policies.
Standard cover is called Protect Essential and is available for cars up to ten years old with less than 100,000 miles. An enhanced package, called Protect Plus adds extra features but is only available for cars up to eight years old and 80,000 miles.
They say: Car warranty provider of the year
Warrantywise has five levels of cover to cater for different ages and mileages of vehicle – 04/40 cover, for example, is for cars that are less than four years old and have done less than 40,000 miles while 12/120 cover is for older cars up to 12 years on the road and with 120,000 miles on the clock. Each has a basic level of cover that includes unlimited repairs, car hire, parts and labour costs and roadside assistance. Costs vary for each customer because you have the option of customising your policy to suit your own needs.
Your warranty won’t replace worn parts or any non-mechanical or non-electrical parts. Warrantywise promises to check the market to make sure it covers more parts than its rivals – but choosing to remove some of those parts for your particular cover will lower your premium.
Warrantywise asks for cars to be fully serviced and with no known faults when the policy is taken out.
They say: Peace of mind motoring
Warranty Direct was recently taken over by Firstbase, a leading car warranty company, and its warranties are underwritten by the insurer QBE.
They offer a single, comprehensive warranty cover as they believe that it’s more transparent and less confusing, and it also means customers don’t have to check the fine print to establish what is included within the price bracket they opted for. Different levels of excess payments are provided, giving customers a more flexible way to finance their deal.
The cost of cover varies significantly depending on car make, model and mileage, but the company does offer cover starting at £10 per month. Vehicles must be under 12 years old and have covered less than 120,000 miles and cover is quite comprehensive: it includes mechanical and electrical items such as air conditioning, brakes, heating system, oil seals, safety features and four wheel drive.
Warranty Direct doesn’t have special offers or incentives, claiming instead that its quotes are as low as possible from the start.
They say: Flexible cover solutions
Like many policies of this kind, Dynamo Cover’s warranty will cover the cost to repair or replace manufacturer fitted components and parts that have failed. You can usually boost your cover by adding in ‘Wear and Tear’ cover, which deals with parts that have failed because they’ve worn out due to over-use.
There is no average cost of cover because the company’s charges are dependent on the car’s age, make and model. There is no easy guide, says the company, adding that it’s important to buy more expensive products that will cover your vehicle, rather than ‘buy cheaper products and find they don’t include cover’.
Dynamo’s warranty products do not cover the costs to repair or replace consumables, or damage caused by lack of maintenance. They offer a large variety of policies as standard, and most will cover engine and drivetrain problems, but you can also include cover on air conditioning units, in car entertainment and other features.
Most of its policies will only cover vehicles that are under ten years old with less than 100,000 miles on the clock.
Here at The Car Expert, we have some fantastic warranty offers for our readers provided by our commercial partners. If you’re interested in a used car warranty, you should check these out:
More car warranty information
*The Car Expert has commercial partnerships with ALA Insurance, the AA and MotorEasy. If you click through to their websites and proceed to purchase a used car warranty, we may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay.
This article is continually updated to ensure the information is accurate. Last update: March 2023