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Can I buy a used car warranty at any time?

Your car’s manufacturer warranty is due to expire, or you want some mechanical cover for a used vehicle – can you buy a warranty policy whenever you please?

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Buy a new car and you not only have a fresh set of wheels to show your neighbours, but you have the peace of mind that if there’s a major mechanical failure on the car, its repairs and spare parts will be covered by the manufacturer or dealer warranty. This is usually at least three years, but in some cases it can be more. 

That’s a good feeling to have! So, as your own car gets older, or if you have bought a vehicle that has no warranty, you might well want that sentiment to continue. The irony is that as vehicles age, they become more likely to fail, not less. And it’s just as your manufacturer warranty is coming to an end that problems can start to loom.

So can you buy a used car warranty to cover you for your car’s later years, whenever you like?

Yes you can, and there are many specialist companies around to help you make that decision. Modern cars are better built and more reliable than ever, but their enhanced features are also more expensive to repair when compared with older vehicles, so a warranty is certainly worth considering.

Timing is key here and waiting too long can affect the premium you’ll pay. Like any insurance, the cost of cover depends on several factors: the make and model of the car, its age, how many miles it has covered, and what it has been used for. 

Age is a big factor because it’s assumed that the older a car gets, the more likely it is that something is going to go wrong. Indeed, most warranty providers won’t cover cars over a certain age – usually 10 to 12 years – or if it has done high mileage. 

But assuming your car is newer than that, it’s worth getting cover in place before it comes out of its manufacturer warranty. If you wish you can leave a gap of ‘no cover’ and wait until your car starts showing signs of failing, but that’s a gamble. And warranty providers won’t pay for pre-existing issues – problems that are already there when you buy a policy.

Take time to look around

Give yourself some time to research what is available in used car warranties before your existing cover ends. It will give you a chance you study various providers’ small print and descriptions of what they will and won’t pay for, and you’ll also get a good idea of what level of cover you want and how much you’re likely to pay for it.

Most warranty providers will offer different levels of cover. These will include lists of parts insured, the top amount of labour charge they will pay out for, whether electrical parts as well as mechanical are covered, and whether it includes items such as infotainment, satnav and air conditioning.

Some policies also include cover to get your vehicle through an MOT test and even roadside recovery and home start services, so there is a lot to consider here as you might not need everything that’s on the table.

Seamless transition

If you have made the decision to go with a warranty policy, it’s worth making sure there is a seamless transition of coverage – one policy ends and another one starts. Certainly most providers will default to ‘automatic renewal’ once you have signed up with them for this very reason – although you can opt out of this at any time.

When approaching the end of your new car warranty, it is possible to buy a new policy and defer the start date, but providers will have their own timelines on how early you can do that. At least though, everything will be in place when the time comes to change over, and the peace of mind that comes with having warranty cover on your pride and joy can continue.

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:

  • ALA Insurance provides used car warranties in conjunction with the RAC
  • MotorEasy offers warranties and many other types of cover for car owners
  • Warrantywise is a long-established and multi-award-winning warranty provider

More car warranty information

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Should my used car warranty be regulated?

The UK’s best used car warranty providers

The UK’s best used car warranty providers

What’s the difference? Car warranty vs. car insurance

What’s the difference? Car warranty vs. car insurance

Understanding your warranty policy

Understanding your warranty policy

Is a used car warranty required by law?

Is a used car warranty required by law?

Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.