Buying a new car is exciting and knowing that it’s covered by a manufacturer warranty if something should go wrong offers great peace of mind.
But there are exclusions and limitations that could leave you footing the repair bill if you don’t follow the rules.
To help you keep out of the red, here are six of the most common pitfalls that could lead to invalidating your car warranty.
What is a car warranty?
Under EU law all professionals selling a new car need to offer a warranty of at least two years. This mainly protects you against manufacturer faults, but can also include roadside assistance and the replacement of parts.
It gives you that extra peace of mind that if anything did go wrong with the car outside of your control, you’ll be able to get it fixed at no extra cost.
Your car warranty will start from the registration date and will stipulate mileage and number of years’ cover available. Sometimes your warranty will offer cover for individual elements of the car, for example paintwork and battery replacement, so it’s important to double check you have all the cover you need. Make sure your policy covers you for the full repair costs and includes labour (and VAT) too.
Not to be confused with insurance, your warranty will not cover you if the car is involved in an accident or is damaged in a fire or flood.
Here are six key restrictions to watch out for that could invalidate your car warranty.
1. Mileage restrictions could void your car warranty
Car warranties are usually based on a certain time frame or number of miles, whichever is reached first. Some have a total amount of miles you can travel each year too so it’s important to know what the restrictions are before you leave the forecourt.
Some warranties will even offer unlimited mileage for a set amount of years and then cap the remaining left. Not many offer cover past 100,000 miles, though.
Buying used? Some warranties are transferable so it’s worth investigating. There may be more restrictions imposed for the second driver, however.
2. Could modifications void your warranty?
If you’re thinking about sprucing up your new set of wheels or making it a little faster by chipping the engine, make sure you check your warranty small print first. It’s rare for cover to still stand if you’ve altered with the car’s bodywork or engine. Even small external changes could deem your policy void, or if you have the work carried out by a garage which is not VAT-registered or approved as part of your policy.
There are some manufacturers who may stipulate that modifications are ok, however if any faults were to occur because of the modifications, cover is unlikely to be available.
3. Everyday wear and tear is not included in your car warranty
What constitutes ‘fair wear and tear’ is a bit of a grey area. Most warranties will not offer cover for replacements on consumable parts like tyres, windscreen wipers, brake pads and headlights.
It’s the same for interior marks or rips in the upholstery that occur because of everyday use; for example if you leave a permanent mark on the leather from fitting a car seat.
4. Don’t forget to top up your fluids
Regular maintenance is an important part of keeping your car in tip-top shape. Failing to keep things like engine oil and coolant topped up could invalidate your warranty if a fault occurs as a result.
We’d recommend checking the fluids under the bonnet at least once every month or before a long-distance journey.
Miss-fuelling is unlikely to be covered either and always ensure that your tyres are correctly inflated and at the right tread depth. If damage occurs because your tyres were under- or over-inflated, the warranty will not cover you.
5. Know your limits
Thinking of heading on holiday in your caravan? You need to make sure that what you wish to tow doesn’t exceed the car’s maximum towing capacity. This total weight also includes luggage and other items you’re looking to transport, not just the weight of the caravan or horsebox.
Overloading is not only unsafe, it will also void your warranty if a fault occurs because you tried to tow something too heavy for the car.
If you decide to take your car off-road, ensure that it has a 4×4 system installed suitable for the terrain and check your warranty small print for what is covered if your car was to be damaged.
6. Keep a paper trail
Having your car serviced on time and at an approved garage is an important part of keeping your warranty valid. Your local garage may offer a lower price, but you’ll need to ensure they use the right parts and are approved by your warranty provider.
Make sure you keep copies of all your receipts too, especially if you don’t have the work carried out at the dealership where you brought the car. If you need to make a claim, the warranty provider will want proof that the car has been serviced and repaired.