/ Motoring

Used cars: when warranties aren’t worth it

Car repair

Would you buy a car that costs 10 times the normal price and which you could drive only on good roads, when the sun is out? No? Yet that’s the equivalent of what thousands do every year when they buy a car warranty.

Many used-car warranties don’t make any sense when you compare what providers are asking you to pay for cover with what you would pay to repair a fault in your car. In our investigation, Which? researchers carried out this comparison using hundreds of real repair costs that Which? members supplied for specific models.

But even if you were willing to pay up to £665 for the comfort of knowing that you would never get a huge bill if the worst happened, you may be disappointed.

Used-car warranty excuses

The excuses of train operators have nothing on the excuses of car-warranty providers eager to avoid paying out: ‘We’re not covering that problem because the part failure was not sudden enough’; ‘you ignored the warning light’; ‘you didn’t ignore the warning light and took it to a garage’; ‘the car got cold because you left it outside in winter’; ‘you bought the warranty two months ago’…

If you’re still keen to get a warranty and are prepared to read the small print to try to understand what you’re buying, you’ll need to know how likely a crankshaft pulley is to fail and how much it costs to repair. And if you know that, you could probably repair it yourself.

There are some warranties that appear to be cheaper and better value than the rest, but in the cases our researchers examined, these carried exclusions meaning you could claim on them once in a blue moon. As with many other poor-value financial products, these warranties depend on small print burying what you actually get for your cash.

Drive past car warranties

My advice is to put your £300 or £400-a-year warranty cost into a separate bank account and draw on it for repairs if you need to. To minimise the need for repairs in the first place, find out which are the most reliable cars in our car reliability survey.

And if you’ve bought a used-car warranty, did you struggle to get your warranty provider to pay out?

Have you ever bought a used-car warranty?

No (80%, 459 Votes)

Yes (20%, 118 Votes)

Total Voters: 577

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Is there any difference between buying a used car warranty and an extended warranty on a washing machine or other household item? They are buying peace of mind, but at a very high cost. The insurance companies providing these warranties are in business to make a profit.

I agree with Peter that the best approach is to put aside some money to pay for repairs and forget the warranties.

Just sent a used (out of manufacturers warranty) car back to the car supermarket after 2 days. All warning lights on! Advice from after sales team…cars sometimes have faults when manufactured so you should by the used car warranty…..this in spite of the fact that I am covered by trading standards.

Trubs says:
21 February 2014

Bought a car warranty via a dealer from Auto-Direct, useless, it was £300 (as part of a deal) for 3 years and we tried to make 3 claims in that time and all were rejected.
However, Richer Sounds (audio and visual), their warranties are commendable, the 5 yr warranty costs 10% of the purchase price of item you are covering, so a 22inch TV I bought for £239 had a £24 warranty cost. Suffered a failure after 14 months, this was repaired free of charge. Suffered another failure 6 months after that and they replaced the tv with a brand new one (better model) and started the 5 year warranty again.

Bought a warranty with Nissan main dealer. Airbag warning light came on. They suggested either a switch (cheap) or control unit (dear). Changed switch, no effect, changed control unit no effect both paid for , no quibble, by the warranty. After consulting Nissan Technical suggested changing a different switch panel (very dear) the warranty refused to pay presumably because of the cumulative cost. I asked for the issue to be put in writing so I could consult legal advice. Result car fixed and paid for by warranty. My point is the warranty was worthwhile, the issue was not with the warranty but with the dealer increasing the cost by guessing at what the fault was.

Lawrence Whittaker says:
25 February 2014

My name is Lawrence Whittaker and I am the CEO of Warrantywise. I am most dissapointed with the review that has featured in today’s Which? magazine. Whilst I agree that the vast majority of car warranties aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, the Warrantywise plan is different and that hasn’t been shown clearly in the review. All our warranty plans are written by the motoring journalist and consumer champion, Quentin Willson, who has removed many of the weasel words that the Which? reviewer has highlighted. Things like Excess, Consequential Loss, Betterment and Wear & Tear are all EXCLUDED in our plan and things like Breakdown cover and Car Hire are INCLUDED… even if your claim is valid or not! It seems that the journalist hasn’t read or understood properly what the Warrantywise warranty plan covers and has tarnished us with the same brush as all the other warranty companies. At the end of the article, the Which? reviewer seems to endorse the 7 year Kia warranty, which isn’t a full manufacturer’s warranty at all and actually deteriorates in quality of cover once your car is passed 3 years old! Not good research at all!! Both Quentin and I am most upset and will be writing to the editor with a full list of inaccuracies that feature in this article. Which? have a duty of care to advise correctly, so i’d love to know how I can keep a BMW 118d on the road for £72 per year in maintenance costs!

Ian Mitchell says:
14 July 2014


On the 26th of June whilst returning from Banbury my Range Rover started to shake very badly at low speed. I purchased the the car in January this year with a 6 month WarrantyWise policy on it.

Called my garage they said drive as little as poss and get it into us for the the 1st soonest we can look at it. Took it in with the warranty paperwork. They came back to me saying it’s the gearbox, we will have to take it out and send to a specialist to diagnose the exact problem.

some 9 days later I chased and am told WarrantyWise have contacted you to saying they need your MOT and service history, Not heard anything from them I say. So I call them and WarrantyWise say we left a message on your mobile answer phone. I don’t have an answer phone on my mobile.

Take service history and MOT to garage same day.

Turns out the problem is to do with the torque convertor and splines. Chase again on the 10th and garage says we have chased WarrantyWise no answer as yet. So I say well look I have to have the car back for the 18th, it’s going to have to be done one way or another can you get them to start to repair the gearbox.

This morning I get a call from the garage saying WarrantyWise have declined the claim. This was down to the fact they do not cover worn parts and I had given the garage permission to proceed with the repair.

I phone WarrantyWise and I would like to say sorry to Paula for my initial frustration with the situation. It would appear it is written in the terms and conditions of my Warranty that the car should not have been touched until they had sent an assessor to look at the car.

The fact the the gearbox had to be removed and sent to a specialist to find out what was wrong counts for nothing, the fact that this morning the gearbox is still at the specialist along with the damaged parts counts for nothing, the fact I have now been with out my car for 14 days counts for nothing.

Now I run my own business selling high end retail products. I know If I was to treat my customers how I have been treated I would no longer have a business.

I shall now pay for the repairs to my car and collect it later this week.

I suggest Warrantywise that maybe, you might like to talk to your staff who leave messages on answer phones that don’t exist and maybe make your claims procedure a little clearer to garages.

I would like to think I may get a response regarding all this from someone higher up within WarantyWise and find a way to resolve the issue.

What is a worn part.
If a part fails well before it might be expected to – say a valve actuator or something that is inside the engine system lasting say half of its expected lifex, then is that worn or did it mechanically fail.
If it was fair wear and tear, then like belts, they would be a service item with a maintenence routine.
I find WW definitions confusing

mike says:
19 January 2015

Warrantywise are the ones who should be investigated full stop. Five different excuses why they wont pay, then after each was shot down, more reasons. Blatant excuses for non payment, my case is on-going and will end up in court so not going to print too many details but I advise anybody considering a purchase please read up first, google them, go to the forums etc. I’ve literally found thousands of people who have suffered as I’m suffering now. Don’t be fooled by the spiel about weasel words or about you can have my email address don’t worry I have the final say, all smoke and mirrors. Be very, very carefull.

Peter Dobson says:
30 March 2015

Sorry to say, weasel words is an apt description of Mr Lawrence Whittaker and WarrantyWise, and I agree with other reviewers that his company should be investigated. Perhaps his employees are on some kind of bonus for rejecting applications? Gearboxes are supposed to be covered. We had our 06 Nissan Almera for around 6 weeks when the gearbox suffered a sudden and catastrophic failure. The car is undriveable. The garage sent off the necessary form to WarrantyWise, saying they could not give a price for the gearbox, as the gearbox had to go to a specialist. WarrantyWise told me they were rejecting the first part of the claim, which was for the clutch, as in their estimation, the clutch failure was gradual. The ignored the claim for the gearbox, then told me it was my choice to have it repaired by a specialist. How was it my choice? My advice is, put the money towards a potential repair, as suggested by Which? If you buy a 2nd hand car, make sure the seller himself guarantees your car for 3 months. If he is hesitant, buy somewhere else. We are about to have the car towed to the place we bought it, as he advertises his car sales including 12 months’ free repair cover. Not too hopeful about the final outcome.

Luke S says:
28 July 2015

I have just had to pay out £2,200 on a new clutch, broken cover plate and replacement fly wheel on my car. It is a high performance car and my dealer mechanic battled to get this through on the claim. Warranty wise argued to death back and rejected it outright. I have paid out £700.00 for the last 3 years.

You make comments in defense of your firm but when it comes to it, it is all geared and in your favor time and time again. You came here to try and tidy up the negativity towards Warranty wise but have failed.

You are all the same, YES, your are, the same as insurance companies, betting offices with all sorts of inviting and reassuring psychology to attract customers in. I will slate warranty wise from here on and whenever I can I will offer my review and experience and warn others about you.

I can never use you again because of your treatment to me. Mine was not a slipped clutch, it was a complete shearing off and seizure but your examiner was not having it.

Bit disappointed with your spelling

Quentin Willson says:
25 February 2014

As a long-term subscriber to your excellent magazine and admirer of the fine work you do for consumers, I’m troubled that your journalism, one this occasion, isn’t up to your usual high standards. Your feature on used car warranties showed a real lack of understanding of both the product and the market. I designed the Warrantywise policy and have taken enormous pains to make it the most transparent, fairest and flexible in the market. We openly print on our website the amounts of every paid claim we make – an industry first. And we don’t, like other warranty companies, use ambiguous terms like Betterment, always pay consequential damage and have an 80% claim payout rate – which is the highest in the industry.

What I’m really surprised at is your expectation that worn out parts can be covered by any used car warranty. This is a commercial impossibility which no car warranty can cover. To pay £500 and then have every worn-out part on an 80,000 mile car replaced under the terms of the warranty just isn’t a realistic expectation. And to believe that pre-existing faults should be covered is idealistic too. Medical insurance does’t cover for pre-existing conditions and neither do used car warranties. If they did as soon as a problem on your car developed, the flowing day you’d take out a warranty and have all the repairs paid for. Again, with respect, that’s commercially impossible.

I also wonder how you can quote that the annual repairs on a BMW 1 series work out at £79 when BMW labour rates for a single hour can run as high as £175? If you’d asked us questions and looked more carefully at the wider warranty market you would have seen that no used car warranty in the world covers for worn out parts or pre-existing faults. At least you did see that when a customer has a worn out component that wouldn’t normally be covered we do our best to help, are flexible and that I’m personally involved in matters of customer care. Hopefully, next time, you’ll talk to me first.

Quentin Willson

Quentin and Lawrence

You say that medical insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. Mine does and I know others who have similar cover. I acknowledge that this is a common exclusion but it pays to shop around. I very much doubt that it is necessary to pay £175 an hour to repair a car that is beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.

Companies providing warranties are in business to make a profit, which is why most people are losers rather than winners if they buy a warranty. The consumer has the benefit of the Sale of Goods act, though free or reduced price repairs done out of warranty are often referred to as ‘goodwill’. I have benefitted from a free replacement engine and other work on a car that was two years out of its warranty.

I think the Which? article is useful because it could save money for members.

Rather than writing to the editor of Which? it might be better to spend time proof reading the warranty wise website, which does not inspire me with confidence. You could also get rid of the 0844 335 1988 number from your website. Expensive phone numbers really upset many of the contributors to this site. 🙁

Lawrence Whittaker says:
25 February 2014

Hi Wavechange.

Thanks for the reply. Just wanted to clear some things up about the Sale of Goods act, basically this is designed to protect customers for the first 6 months of buying a car, what it states is that during the first 6 months of car ownership your car should be fit for purpose. Most car dealers use car warranties to protect them in case a car they sell has a fault. However, you aren’t protected if you buy a car privately, from an auction, or if you’ve owned a car for longer than 6 months….

You are right that we are a business that operates on the fact that less people claim than don’t, but the warranty is there, like all insurances, for peace of mind… just in case, because when the worst happens and your car suffers a major repair it’s good to know you’ll be protected. This review should have been about which warranty was best for consumers, not one persons opinion that they think all warranties are pointless! What’s next? Travel insurance!!?? Why don’t we all put £50 per month to one side just in case we go on a skiing holiday and break our legs. Its absurd and not what Which? should be about!

Also, if you have little knowledge about cars, its wise to take it back to the main dealer so I don’t agree that people with older cars shouldn’t go to the franchised network, since these are the people who know the most about your car and generally give the best service. A 5 year old BMW 3 series needs approximately £25,000 worth of diagnostic equipment to diagnose every fault, which the main dealer has! Your local garage wont… which can lead to more costly repairs.

The 0844 number is a local rate number that costs 4p per minute to call. However, if that is too much, we always publish our land line in all our adverts and we subscribe to the Say no to 0870 campaign. To be honest, if that’s the biggest thing you can find that doesn’t inspire confidence on our website, we’re doing ok I think. 😉


The Sale of Goods Act provides the consumer with protection for six years (five in Scotland) and does cover secondhand goods. The consumer’s rights are explained on the Which? and Trading Standards websites. Making a claim under the SOGA is not necessarily easy but Which? members can subscribe to the Which? Legal Service to get individual help with claims.

I agree that the expensive diagnostic equipment is a problem. My view is that the EU should require car manufacturers to display diagnostic information on the built-in screens of their vehicles, in plain English (or other language, as appropriate). At present this not done because diagnosis of faults is a good way of extracting money from customers. It’s a bit of a con because the equipment is expensive but can be used many times, so that the cost of individual diagnosis is not hugely expensive. Perhaps the idea is to worry the consumer about potential cost. Anyway, the lack of spare wheels on current models is a good enough reason to steer clear of BMW cars.

The Which? Costly Calls Campaign has generated considerable public awareness to the fact that companies and even GP surgeries are making a lot of money out of calling the likes of 084 numbers. Have a look at how much it costs to call these numbers from mobile phones. 🙁

I don’t think Which? advises members to avoid taking out travel insurance because the possibility of extremely high costs. Likewise, I would not expect Which? to advise against taking out home insurance, for the same reason.

Lawrence Whittaker says:
26 February 2014

Hi Wavechange.

I agree but after 6 months of buying any used goods it is up to you, the consumer, to prove that the car you’ve bought isn’t fit for purpose, which is near impossible. I don’t know any used car dealer who has had to accept a used car back after 6 months.

With regards to the high cost of diagnostic equipment, I agree this is unfair, but more and more manufacturers are making their cars more difficult to diagnose by installing complex ECU’s that need resetting in order to clear any faults after a repair. It still doesn’t remove the issue that most used cars up to 7 years old will most likely require some sort of re-set or software update after repairs that independents don’t have the ability to do. We’ve even had a large independents charge us twice, once for the repair and once for sending the car to the main dealer for resetting!

I think you’re on a losing battle with the spare wheel, I have a brand new Ford Transit van that I’ve paid £25,000 for – and guess what – no spare wheel! I had a puncture after 2,000 miles!! So I agree whole heartily with you on this, but whilst we all demand more MPG’s, I don’t think it is going to change.

Maybe the argument is with the mobile phone companies to include 0844 numbers and 0800 numbers in their contracts? On a landline our 0844 costs 4p per min to call, I still maintain this is a very low cost call. Even if we had an 0800 number, mobiles would be charged still. However I hear you and I will make sure we put the landline number on our repairs page for people who want to claim.

You can’t avoid the fact that your car goes wrong much more often than you break your legs on holiday… Car Warranty claims can run into £20,000 for a full engine and gearbox which I would consider a high cost! We are the only warranty company to publish all our paid out repairs on our website over the last 3 months so you can check what we’ve paid out on your car! You’d be surprised how much we pay out.

P.S. Should I start putting £50 per month to one side for my pet insurance too?


Thanks for your comments regarding changing the phone number. Not everyone has a landline these days.

I agree that it would be difficult to get a replacement car after six months but repair would be an appropriate remedy. It is not a question of fitness for purpose but durability. Parts of a car will wear out but the Sale of Goods Act is there to help if this happens well before it might reasonably be expected to happen.

From your comments regarding ECUs, it is obvious that you know (and are directly affected by) the way that main dealers are making a fortune out of diagnostic work. I guess this is a cosy arrangement of mutual support between manufacturers and dealers.

I think you are probably right about full-size spare wheels being a lost cause, but there are plenty available with space-saver spare wheels and you might find you can buy one for your van. The extra weight does not make a huge difference to mpg and I reckon it is more important to check tyre pressures weekly, avoid carrying around unnecessary junk and buying a vehicle that is more economical in the first place.

By saying that car repairs can cost up to £20k is using scare tactics, in my view. It would be more honest to quote the mean and median costs of repairs.

I had my last car for ten years and the biggest bill was £250 to have an independent garage replace the regulators for the front windows. My present car has needed no repairs so far. So while it is possible that my car could become beyond economical repair as a result of some complex fault, the chances of this are not great. If high cost faults were very common your company would not remain in business for long.

Anyone looking for a car should check to see what the commonly reported faults for that model are, and the likely cost of remedying them. Just looking at the general reliability or otherwise of the vehicles produced by a manufacturer is useful but it is best to look at the individual model and engine.

I sometimes wonder if I should cancel my breakdown recovery insurance. The last time I used it was in 1989, since I can change a wheel if I get a puncture and I am having to subsidise all those who don’t do this, have cars without a spare, or make sure that their cars are properly serviced.

I know nothing about pet insurance, but on the basis that the company is offering insurance to make money it may well be better to take the risk. It’s not just the premium but any excess and exclusions that need to be considered when making an informed decision.

Hi Quentin, I would like to talk to you and offer some feed back if I may.
I won’t go into specifics but I have been left feeling conned almost.
I had a bad experience last year with a minor repair which I see on forums has been repeated by W many other times and when I tried to make a very straight forward claim this week it was refused.
I have read and re-read your policy and cannot understand why.
I have set out my case and await your staff reply.
My mates look at me with the old ” a fool and his money are easily parted” look.
I am the average Volvo S80 drive – no con artist or boy racer. I just look for value for money.
So sad that you, as an old hero of mine, put your name to this


Jenny says:
6 February 2016

Hi Quentin

I have cover with you and this morning my clutch has stopped working despite regular services and a clutch replacement only 15,000 miles ago. I really hope your policy lives up to it’s name as I have taken it to a VAT registered garage as instructed instead of my local trustworthy garage, which could end up costing me a lot more if it is rejected.


Andrew Whittaker says:
26 February 2014

Peter… I am Andrew Whittaker FIMI the Chairman of Warranty Wise Insurance Services (Warrantywise) and a Coverholder at Lloyd’s of London. I am previously a Lancashire Constabulary Police Officer and have been involved with car warranties since 1982. It’s Quentin Willson and I who are responsible for bringing the Warrantywise offering to market. Yes we are in business and looking to make a profit, I don’t see anything wrong with this unless you are a Communist. We employ some 50 people and pay our taxes which makes the UK world go round. However, we are not a traditional insurance company, each customer gets ‘something’ including; on the spot roadside repairs and recovery provided by the AA, car hire and travel expenses should a total breakdown happen. We can arrange car servicing and pay for most MoT failure items including any Re-Test fees. We also allow customers to spread the cost over time which means you could pay £50 and end up claiming £5000. As Quentin states, we have the highest pay out rate of any other provider and challenge others to show their paid repairs on their website as we do. Both Quentin and I use discretion in dealing with any dissatisfied customers and are constantly looking to provide ‘genuine’ customers with more of the pie and the fraudsters with little or nothing. The problem is that the wider you open the gates the more snakes crawl in, its a tough world out there! What you have to remember is that while cars are all very different they look so similar from the outside… well so are used car warranties. Regards Andrew… always available to customers.

[Sorry Andrew, we don’t allow contact information on Which? Convo. Thanks, mods.]

mike says:
19 January 2015

Im having real problems with warrantywise and have been left with a sour taste and am at the moment planning the next step after being rejected out of hand at each stage of their complaints process but a different reason each step and each contradicting their last email. I know it’s going to end up in court at some point and am currently just gathering all the letters to back my case. Can imagine what your going through

Hi Mike,
just for info, I have now moved onto the second stage of their complaints procedure whereby I write down the facts as I see them and submit to the “CEO”. I hope to keep this forum and others updated but I would be very interested to here from others who have had complaints either upheld or refused by WW. I am hoping my experience turns out positive. regards Tim

Hello Andrew,
I have just bought a Jaguar x type estate, 2.2 diesel sports premium aotu on a 57 plate , 98000 miles…FSH.
I’ve received my quote & will be joining warrantywise tomorrow,2nd March 2015.
I’ve been offered the 10/100 plan.
I don’t expect cover for worn parts but want cover for any major crisis.
Let’s hope I’m making the right decision!
Best regards
Mark Carter.

This conversation is interesting in that, on the whole, the advice is not to buy extended warranty insurance on domestic and electronic appliances because they are essentially an expensive luxury – better to save your premiums and arrange repair yourself. However a car can be expensive to repair, as I know from experience, after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. I have had a replacement gear box, turbo, inlet manifold and expensive alternator on a Renault. It has done just 110000 miles and I regard the cost as running costs, instead of paying depreciation on a new vehicle. I may have been unlucky and insurance is designed to spread the cost so the lucky ones fund the unlucky ones – the premiums being designed to give the insurer a surplus. If I could find a genuine warranty provider then I might consider that on my next car.

What I get tired of are reports that look superficially at products and then brand them all as “rip-offs” in a tabloid-style attack. I’d like real in-depth facts so that I can decide whether they provide a genuine product.

Incidentally, you hopefully won’t need the AA – like all insurances you don’t want to claim. But I’ve had three recoveries to home in the last couple of years including one from a motorway and one from Central London – was I pleased to have my membership.

Hi all, for the benefit of anyone reading this, we should point out that Quentin (and Warrantywise CEO Lawrence Whittaker – see comment above) are referring to an article in the March issue of Which? magazine.

We have written to Quentin and Lawrence to answer their specific questions about Warrantywise, but we stick by our advice that consumers are better off putting money in the bank than buying a used car warranty. Like any insurance policy, the odds are stacked in favour of the warranty provider, particularly with the myriad terms and conditions that consumers must abide by.

Lawrence Whittaker says:
27 February 2014


I have replied to Emily’s email and my questions are still outstanding. Quentin and myself would like to come down to see you at the Which? office. I was hoping to have a reasonable conversation about what has gone wrong but it seems that you are against companies that make a profit?

Of course all insurance companies collect more than they pay out, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business. What insurance companies sell is peace of mind and protection when you need it on that one day when your roof falls in, your dog gets sick, your luggage gets lost or your car breaks down! Of which, the latter happens much more often that the rest. So car warranties make MORE sense than most other insurance policies – especially if the plan is as good as ours.

It seems to me that we need a consumer website to watch the consumer websites! I will not be letting this lie.

Further to what Patrick has said regarding the terms and conditions of warranties, there is generally some statement to the effect that the company can decide whether a fault is eligible for cover, and there is no easy way for the consumer to challenge this decision if the problem is not covered by the warranty. That means that after paying a substantial amount for a warranty, the consumer may still have to pay for an expensive repair. 🙁

In the 1980s, Which? did a lot to raise awareness of the high costs of extended warranties being pushed by large electrical retailers. I remember being subjected to a lot of pressure by salespersons to buy these warranties, presumably because this was a lucrative business.

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
1 May 2015


I took a policy with Warranty wise, eight months later (Sept 2014) garage told me I need a new transfer box cost £4500. I paid £2000 to Warranty wise. Since Sept 2014 till yesterday I couldn’t drive my car properly. BMW told me I took the policy with warranty wise and if I extended my policy with BMW they would have replace the transfer box back in Sept 2014. Since yesterday my car is with North Oxford BMW now I am without my £33,000 worth car and using public transport

As I didn’t have any alternative, yesterday I send a court summons to WW for £4403.87. Thinking about my case last night If I win the case, Is it possible I would claim for compensation/ damages as well. I suffered a lot depressed etc. When I bought the car April 2012 car came with BMW warranty which was saddlery expired in Dec 2013.

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
1 May 2015

We should check WW public liability insurance, just in case of another PPI claim payout situation

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
2 May 2015

Independent judge lead investigation required. Outcome should be another PPI pay out. I am taking this matter with my MP.

Tactic used by WW, If your vehicle broken down on Wednesday, Thursday WW will refuse to authorise for repair and ask for new information (even thought WW have all necessary information in the first place) the reason for this tactic is to avoid car hire expense over the weekend/Bank holiday weed end. WW will only pay for car hire after WW authorise the repair work not during whole period of broken down. Sad day for me, I was going to take my six old daughter to Europe for the bank holiday but I don’t have my car and not qualify for a hire car even if WW authorise for repair next week or may be next month. Can we call this as “No Weasel Words”???

[This comment has been edited for posting personal information, in accordance with site rules – Thanks, mods]

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
6 May 2015

[This comment has been removed for posting libel content. Please have a read through our commenting guidelines – Thanks, mods]

Disgruntled says:
10 May 2015

So Mr Whittaker, you are upset because Which don’t answer your questions? Now you know how we feel, getting stonewalled when trying to find out why a phrase in your warranty suddenly – and conveniently – doesn’t say what the English quite plainly does.
I guess we’ll be meeting in court.

Peter Haynes says:
27 February 2014

It is absolutely crazy to try and convince Which? readers that they will not (or are unlikely) to suffer an expensive repair on their car. This seems to be based on one man’s experience of owning two cars that have been reliable. I have suffered several significant finacial outlays on two seperate, relatively low mileage (and premium brand) cars in recent times. One was to replace a dual mass flywheel and clutch assembly (£1500 outlay on a 35,000 mile Volvo) and the other was for a BMW which had a missfire and cold start problem which required no less than four return visits to the dealer, numerous replacement parts and many hundreds of pounds to resolve. Yes, in 25 years of driving I’ve had cars that have cost me nothing to maintain – but I would NEVER now take a gamble on running a complicated modern car without quality warranty cover. Like everything in life, there are good warranties and bad. Just like there are good cars and bad cars. Which? should be more repsonsible when offering advice on matters such as this.

Peter – The problem of multiple visits to get a problem fixed and numerous parts being replaced is not uncommon. A main dealer should have the expertise and diagnostic equipment to identify and fix most problems the first visit. If a second or subsequent visit is needed then I can see little justification for making a charge unless an expensive component is found to be faulty. Neither a customer or a warranty company should be expected to pay for substandard work.

Peter Haynes says:
27 February 2014

But life just isn’t as straightforward as that. That’s the WHOLE point of what I said. Modern cars are so complex (and I’ve worked as a journalist on one the UK’s leading motoring publications), that resolving issues can be very hard – particualrly where electrical problems are concerned. In the case of the BMW, the main dealer diagnositics just couldn’t deal with the issue and in the end the coils, plugs, ECU, fuel injectors and a whole range of components had to be systematically checked. With the greates of respect, unless you’re telling me that you’re a trained technician, I’m not sure you’re really qualified to tell people how easy or hard it is to repair a car. Don’t event get me started on dual mass flywheels – check out any number of online forums where people are furious about £1000+ repairs to all makes and models of cars which routinely suffer flywheel failure. It just HAPPENS – period. And you’re either going to be covered to for the repair – or your not. You pay your money, you take your choice. I’m a competent home mechanic – I’ve removed and replaced engines in cars I’ve owned – Minis, MGBs and the like. I don’t even bother opening the bonnet on a modern car. The average car today has more computing power than the Apollo Space missions.

Peter – You cannot dispute the fact that warranty companies are in business to make money, so there will be more losers than winners. If you want to spend your money on buying peace of mind, that’s fine. My approach is to avoid all extended warranties (not just cars) and keep a reasonable amount of money immediately available in case I am unlucky enough to need an expensive repair. On the one occasion that I expected to be faced with a costly repair, VW inspected my car and authorised supply of a new short engine on the basis that it had a manufacturing defect. That was long after the warranty had expired.

Electronics circuitry can be incredibly reliable if properly designed and made with suitable components. Car manufacturers face the challenges of protecting their circuitry etc. from voltage spikes, moisture, salt, vibration and temperature changes. There is no doubt that cars are a challenging environment and that some manufacturers are not doing as well as they should do. A sensor may fail but electronics should last the life of the vehicle. Industrial and scientific equipment is in a different league to what the consumer has to put up with, and there is no reason why well made electronic items should cost significantly more.

I don’t know much about the use of computers in cars but I do know that there are ways of ensuring continuity of operation if a fault occurs. For some applications, failure is not an option.

First, a lot of thumbs-up appeared against Quentin’s and Lawrence’s first posts. If this represents conversationalists supporting Warrantywise, then Which? should rethink it’s blanket attack perhaps. But were they genuine supporters?
Second, I have no brief to support warranty providers – in the main they are not worth having. However, it seems quite wrong to condemn all of them unless you have good evidence that each offers poor value. I have not seen the March report, which might, of course, shed a different light. Maybe Which? have done in-depth inverstigations of all these used car warranties and found them useless. Have they? If not, then it is quite unfair to condemn all these businesses without good reason – it can damage a business badly and, I suspect, open Which? up to possible legal action. Warrantywise assure us here that their products are a good deal – I would like them to be given the opportunity to support this – then, with facts, we can make an informed judgement.

As I see it, Which? reports help the consumer to make informed choices. I assume that everything published in the magazine is checked by the legal team to ensure that subscribers’ money is not wasted on defending legal cases due to unwise statements.

Which? is using owners’ information on repair costs for 4-7 year old cars of different brands, from the Which? Car Survey 2013. I feel this conceals the variation in costs that may exist between models, for example where a manufacturer produces cheap small cars and much more complicated luxury models.

The article includes a couple of cases where members have through legal action succeeded in pursuing claims against warranty companies.

There were a fair number of thumbs up (and down for me) in the small hours, after I posted my first comment. 😉

“Peter – You cannot dispute the fact that warranty companies are in business to make money, so there will be more losers than winners.”
Of course – a warranty company is in business to make a profit. Why should it be disputed? Those who don’t claim, as with any insurance, are not losers – they’ve been lucky not to have a problem, whether car, flood, health or sick dog. They have bought peace of mind knowing that with decent insurace their outlay will be limited (excess) if there is a problem that is covered.
I welcome expert input to these conversations, with some facts – often they are rather lacking. We might hear from people who have had experience of warranty claims? The tendency is to focus on those who have had bad experiences – others tend to keep quiet.
So let’s see what facts there are, and we might then be in a better position to decide whether all warranty companies are bad value and should be avoided (lets hope we don’t see “rip-off” and “broken market” appearing!)

Malcolm – I have not suggested that it is wrong for companies to make a profit, but because of this and operating costs there will be more losers than winners.

In business it is common not to take out certain types of insurance because the premium exceeds the likely cost of repairs and replacement. Sometimes they will lose out by not having insurance but overall they are likely to save money.

I don’t consider myself as financially astute but I reckon that one of my best decisions has been to avoid buying extended warranties.

Which? review of used car warranties:
“BMW 3 Series warranty (prestige car)
……….Warrantywise looks like good value at £321.
Indeed, their 3 year warranties on this and a Land Rover “Given the cost and frequency of Discovery repairs” might be seen as possible good value. All depends on the terms.

Introduction to this conversation:
“Drive past car warranties
My advice is to put your £300 or £400-a-year warranty cost into a separate bank account and draw on it for repairs if you need to.” I don’t disagree with this in principle, but insurance is about peace of mind if you want to avoid the possibility of big bills. The cost is a balance that has to be struck. The above example suggests a warranty might offer good value for some.

I am not normally a fan of extended warranties (although I have one – 10 years on a Miele dishwasher) nor any experience of these warranty companies. However, it looks as though the blanket condemnation is not justified – individual offerings need to be rationally considered. I really would like Which? to be more a little detailed,objective and fair than it sometimes appears.

I don’t believe that the article makes a blanket condemnation of car extended warranties.

It is up to the consumer to look at what is on offer and decide whether a worthwhile, taking into account reliability of the model, urgency of getting a car repaired, ability to pay a big bill, and so on.

The one extra that I would have liked to see in this article is a comparison of value for money of extended warranties offered by manufacturers and other companies. Perhaps there is too much variation to make this practical.

My neighbours have told me that they have ordered a new Vauxhall with a ‘Lifetime Warranty’. Having looked this up it appears to provide cover on major items for 100,000 miles or the time that it is owned by the original purchaser. http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/owners_services/warranty_assistance/lifetime_warranty_terms.html

The terms and conditions don’t make it clear whether certain items (e.g. fuel injectors and alternator) are covered and it seems odd to exclude wiring harnesses from the cover, but this seems ideal for my neighbours, who are retired, rarely travel any distance.

I know people that choose Hyundai cars, mainly for their 5 year or 100,000 mile warranties.

I feel that it is excellent that car manufacturers are starting to offer longer warranties and fully appreciate the need to exclude fair wear and tear. I look forward to more manufacturers providing longer warranties and perhaps allowing these to be transferred when a car changes hands. That would improve the resale value of cars and also save the second owner from paying a large premium for a warranty.

I found the article interesting, as I soon have a decision to make. Almont three years ago I purchased a three year extension to Honda’s standard three year warrantee.

This was bought through my Honda dealer for £750, eg; £250 pa, which looks competitive according to your article.

Soon I will need to work out if I should purchase another extended warrantee or do as Which suggests, just put money aside each month. Given that after almost six years I am still waiting for something to go wrong (tempting fate I know), I think your article has made up my mind!!

Ron, I suspect with a Japanese (UK built) car you should follow your instinct! My wife had two Hondas, the last just disposed of after it was in the family from new for 24 years with minimal repairs. I wish I could say the same about my Renault, woes mentioned earlier, but even so over the last 8 years, now on 110 000 miles, repairs, services, tyres, other wear and tear, has cost just 20.2 p/mile (I suppose I should say 12.6 p/km) excluding, of course, fuel insurance and tax. I don’t find that unacceptable so, if you can fund a major repair from your own funds if the need ever arises, I’d take the risk.

David Taylor says:
23 March 2014

I tried to claim on my AA warranty last month. I had taken out a 3 year, unlimited mileage warranty when I purchased the car from Car Giant in April 2012. I thought the £799 was good value and provided some reassurance if my car had developed a fault as I needed it for work. The unlimited mileage was appealing particularly as the car (BMW320D) had done 57K and I would be driving an average of 25K per year.

After a fault of running extremely rough, vibrating and not able to engage low gears, an initial inspection at the recommended AA centre advised the clutch and flywheel needed repairing and it not covered due to wear and tear. I argued about the flywheel not being a serviceable part and they still refused and said it would cost £950 to repair. I contacted a local garage who agreed to collect the car (in bits) and he repaired it for £700.

What I would like to know is how many claims for cars that have done over 60K miles are actually upheld by companies like AA Warranty or their middle men companies. I doubt it would be very high due to the wear and tear get out. If this is correct, surely the whole selling of these car warranties, like PPI are actually a worthless con. I hope Which can ask under a freedom of information type enquiry and get to the bottom of it.

thugzy says:
20 May 2014

lawrence n quinton, ur defense shows there is something wrong with warranties. big CEO replying to a small article. thought u wud have had some pr person to help u out.
ps do u 2 think ur the new kanye and kim that everyone wants to meet u?

Stuart says:
26 September 2014

I laughed when I read this. What I find even funnier is that loggers have to get their friends to ‘like’ their own article! Only joking!
I understand the defence but it’s a little like the estate agent who swears blind he’s honest, any commission based job is ‘sales’ and as such means the seller will try to sell the client anything and everything irrespective of quality or client need. I have just purchased a second hand car and the ‘salesperson’ was selling his little heart out on the warranty-not once did he identify if I had a need or what I had concerns about.
Unfortunately your warranty offering is a little bit like any insurance, no one actually really wants it’s one of those things you can’t seem to avoid. Peace of mind is a real financial nightmare!

Phill Cotterill says:
3 December 2014

What p;uts the costs of warranties up is that second hand car dealers use them to claim for work instead of paying for it themselves.

For example a used car will be sold and the dealer knows there are faults but does nothing to correct these. They then sell you a warranty or even supply a 3 month warranty themselves backed by the same warranty company. When, or even if the buyer tests drives the car they find these faults. The dealer says OK we will put these right before you take delivery of the car.

When you arrive to pick up your new beauty the fauts are still there. Or if you didnt test drive you might mention these on collection or even a few days after collection No problem matey just bring it back and we will fix them. The faults are all fixed but now – as its after the sale – the dealer is claiming on the warranty you paid for instead of paying for the repairs themselves as any decent garage or dealer would do.
This happens quite a lot and a lot of people I work with realised this when i told them as they didnt realise. I only found out when i bought a new car which had a few faults on it and the dealer asked me to bring the car back after a few days. A couple of months later the clutch went and when i tried to claim the claim was refused as clutches are wear and tear and at this time the operator told me that I had made a few claims recently and also claimed for a new airbag sensor, heat exchanger for the intercooler and a faulty injector all mentioned before the sale was completed.

So just a word of advice. Make sure any work is done before you collect the car or refuse the car. Too many claims on your warranty will definately put you on the unofficial black list

Dear All,
just to let you know, I am escalating a complaint with WW and I believe I have a good case. I will share with you how it goes and I am being positive about things but I would love to hear from others who have had similar dealings with WW. Were you successful or not. Share your experiences. Let me know if you wish to PM.


Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
30 April 2015


I am taking WW to court. I want you to be my withness

Dave says:
6 March 2015

I had a warranty with warranty wise / warranty direct can’t remember which one , several years ago and an airbag light came on there policy at the time was to get the dealer to speak to warranty wise and get the work authorised . The dealers didn’t want to know . They wanted the work paying for by me first which was against warranty wise policy . I asked warranty wise to put me in touch with a garage they could authorise to do the work but they couldn’t . I spend around £700 on a three year plan and after a year the company went into administration money well spent not !!!!!!

Tim Roberts says:
11 March 2015

AA warranty review, The warranty policy booklet advised that a”contaminated clutch” is covered, they advised it was covered when I phoned them so i instructed the garage to take the clutch out which was 7 hours labour on a Renault Clio, I then got a call from someone else the next day who advised its not covered even though it clearly says in black and white in the policy booklet that it is covered!! I then had to pay £1100 for a new clutch my self. So you have been warned

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