/ Motoring

Big problems with car warranty small print

Reading a tiny book

Surely if your car’s under warranty you shouldn’t have to pay for any repairs? You’d think so, but this isn’t always the case – dealers are increasingly relying on the small print to wriggle out of warranty claims.

While researching the Which? Car feature on new car warranties, I was contacted by a Kia Cee’d owner whose warranty claim had been turned down by his local dealer – he thought unfairly.

After 9,000 miles and at just under a year old, the car’s clutch burnt out. When the owner took it to the dealer he was told he’d have to pay for a replacement as it would be considered fair wear and tear.

We agreed with the owner that a clutch should be expected to last for longer than a year, so contacted Kia on his behalf. Its head office inspected the car, and subsequently fitted a new gearbox and refunded the money paid for the replacement clutch.

Stop hiding behind the small print

This is just one of many examples we hear of people who’ve had to pay for repairs that should have been done under warranty. While Kia behaved well in the end, I believe the dealer shouldn’t have tried to get out of the warranty claim in the first place.

And there are other ways dealers can wriggle out of accepting warranty claims, thanks to the small print in their warranty terms and conditions.

Vauxhall, for example, insists owners take their cars for an annual inspection (within a two-week window) in order to maintain the lifetime warranty. And two thirds of the manufacturers we looked at will only pay out for rust if the car has been inspected at regular intervals.

While there’s no problem with carmakers stipulating that vehicles should be regularly checked, surely they should be up-front and make sure owners don’t find this out too late?

In general, I believe that if a car has a manufacturing fault, car companies and their dealers should simply own up and pay for it to be fixed, rather than hiding behind the small print.

S Singh says:
28 October 2016

Beware Of Warranty Assist
I got warranty with my Car, had problem, the parts needed were clearly in the list of covered parts, they refused the claim, very poor customer service. Stay well away, I will never ever use them again.

Total Waste…. will be taking them to FCA though….

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

BenHir says:
6 October 2017

I bought a brand new Kia Cee’d 1.6 CRDi 2012 model, mainly because of the 7 year warranty. After 70 000 miles the clutch has started slipping and the dealer claims it is “fair wear and tear” and refuses a warranty claim. They want over £700 to fix it, against just over £500 quoted by my local garage. I am not heavy on clutches; I have had over 250 000 miles without problems from the clutch in a previous car, over 150 000 in two others, so I don’t think 70 000 is “fair wear and tear” at all. From other internet sites it is clear that Kia have a clutch problem and they should honour the warranty and solve their own problem, not dump the cost onto the car owners.


Here is what the warranty says:

Maintenance items
Maintenance items (#) are covered for defects in material or workmanship for 24 months from the date of first registration regardless of mileage. (#-Spark plugs, auxiliary drive belts, brake pads and linings, wiper blades, clutch linings, lamp bulbs or other consumable items).

Offering 24 months is, I believe, generous compared with some manufacturers and the company has no idea of how you have driven the car. If you can collect information about similar failures you might persuade the dealer to offer a goodwill gesture such as a discount in the price for replacement of the clutch.

I strongly believe that where a frequent problem is found with a product, customers should have redress but it’s very difficult to know how a clutch as been used.

Some clutch faults do not relate to wear and I believe that in this case they should not be excluded.

Best of luck.


As wavechange says, items like brakes and clutches are subject to wear and tear – like tyres. Kia will have no idea how well or badly people drive their cars, particularly the way they use their brakes and clutches. So I think you might need to accept that after 5-6 years use and 70k your clutch could need replacing.

However, my advice would be to have an independent garage change it and examine it just in case they can find anything unusual that might have contributed to its failure.



There are many factors that can affect the life of a clutch. Living or regular driving in hilly areas must be a factor.

One of my friends drives my car occasionally and I think she slips the clutch more than necessary. Maybe not because her car has done nearly 100k miles so far.