/ 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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jim mason says:
12 March 2015

Exactly the same for me ,just got off the phone with warranty wise
when I bought my car I was sold this warranty ,I really did not want it ,but was told it was not a option .
The result was the brake calipers and brake pads need replacing plus it has seized ,, the result was we won,t pay for any of that !! YOU have wear and tear cover ?? YES ,no we still will not pay for any of that . As the other gentleman mentions Sudden wear and tear ??? it’s ALL is wear and tear

Wear and tear covered on cover letter ,,,but we won,t pay for brakes !

[This comment has been edited to align with our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Dave Edwards says:
31 March 2015

Long story short. Bought an 07 Megane Scenic 1.6 Automatic with 50K (MOTs and some service history support the mileage being correct) on the clock 2 weeks ago from a trader. Went on a test drive and all seemed good – engine quiet, no smoke, rattles or faults.
The trader offered no warranty except through Warranty Wise so I elected to take out the Gold level warranty as it covered engine, gearbox and ECU (I’d read on the internet that the Auto box occasionally had problems with sensors/solenoids). Lo and behold 2 weeks after purchase the auto box developed the common fault I’d read about.
No problem I thought, I’m covered by my warranty! Except it appears that I’m not!
My detailed policy documents arrived over 2 weeks after I took out the cover.
Section F 3.16 effectively says that the warranty does not cover any fault that is reported as inherent if googled on the net.
I bought the car in good faith, I paid for the warranty based on the limited information about levels of cover the internet and trader supplied on the day.
If you read section F “What is NOT covered” you would never bother with the warranty in the first place but since the detailed documents don’t arrive until after the sale you are buying blind.
I feel conned and am looking at £35 diagnostic plus £470 to correct the gearbox fault.

No Weasel Words – No useful information on the product pre-sale either!

Mrs Apryl Keenan says:
13 April 2015


I’m the Managing Partner of Warrantywise, and I’m concerned about your case. If you can please contact me directly I’ll look into the matter fully for you. A copy of our decline letter and any formal decision you’ve received would help me greatly, along with the details of your warranty plan (warranty number and/or vehicle reg etc). Please contact me directly by email ak@warrantywise.co.uk

Much appreciated.

Mrs Apryl Keenan
Managing Partner

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
30 April 2015

I paid £2000 to Warranty wise, 8 months later fault developed Garage told me I need a transfer box. WW refuse pay to repair my car. I was driving my car with faulty gear box. Today my gear box packed up totally. WW refused my claim. I filled up HM Courts & Tribunals Money Claim. I didn’t have any other alternative. Cost of repair BMW X5 transfer box £4403.87 Because I paid warranty wise £2000. Total lost to me now £6403.87. Please keep the money in your bank account. Can any one help and support. BMW told me if I extended my policy with BMW they would have replaced the transfer box 5 months ago.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
30 April 2015

I am taking WW to court I hope you could be a witness to my case.

[This post has been edited for sharing personal details. Have a read of our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Blue says:
16 May 2015

I am a motor trader and have currently sold 23 warranty wise products and had always encountered decent customer service levels until one of my customers car broke down.

The fault was a failed oil pump and the replacement cost was £753. The claim was denied because of supposed lack of service history which in the whole has been proved to be completely wrong. The service history is there and visible for all to see and inspect.
Warranty Wise now say they wont pay out because the part need to be inspected, The part is being held in Halfords Bolton but still there is no mention of this independent body going to inspect this faulty part.

of all the warranties i have placed through warranty wise i have only had this claim. I will never use your (non) service again and will now operate my own in house warranty scheme that truly will be different to every other scheme around.

I have made my complaint by following all of your procedures but still nothing, 6 days now and still no response, no response from CEO and no response from customer services all of which were sent the same email.

I am now going to file a request for a refund of all of the policies i have sold in the last 30 days, i will be writing to all of my customers and explaining the reason for the cancellation

Further more i am going to file a claim for reimbursement of the money that i have had to pay out to keep my customer happy.

In the space of 12 months i have sold 162 cars and had 2 warranty claims both from different warranty providers (you being one), the first was upheld but only had a measly £500 repair limit. I think i’m gonna be a lot more wealthy in the future.

[Hi Blue, we’ve had edit your post so it aligns with our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
19 May 2015

Soon as North Oxford BMW repair and return my car I will file a claim. What a difference between both, delay in getting parts BMW loan a 5 series for 10 days. I more car dealer like your self come forward.

[Hi Mr Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah, thanks for sharing your comments but we’ve had to tweak some of the content so it aligns with our guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
30 April 2015

I paid £2000 to Warranty wise, 8 months later fault developed Garage told me I need a transfer box. WW refuse pay to repair my car. I was driving my car with faulty gear box. Today my gear box packed up totally. WW refused my claim. I filled up HM Courts & Tribunals Money Claim. I didn’t have any other alternative. Cost of repair BMW X5 transfer box £4403.87 Because I paid warranty wise £2000. Total lost to me now £6403.87. Please keep the money in your bank account. Can any one help and support

Mrs Apryl Keenan says:
1 May 2015

Mr Bala-Kumaran Tambi-Aiyah,

I’ve received some emails from someone who I believe is a friend of yours, however we cannot discuss matters with anyone except the named planholder of any warranty plan I’m afraid. If you wish to provide us with details of the problem with your transfer box (your garage could give us a full assessment, or any photos they have showing the damage would help a lot!, or we can send an inspector if that’s easier for you?) then we are more than happy to look at this for you. I would need to have full details of what exactly you believe is wrong with your car before we can review anything for you.

As all warranty companies, we only make a decision upon informality we are given. If you think we’ve not had the full story or full details and information, then please help us to consider this fully and give us as much as you can.

Bala-kumaran Tambi-aiyah says:
1 May 2015

She have all information from North Oxford BMW since yesterday. Mrs Keenan knows I am the policy holder. BMW service adviser Mr P S very helpful to me and to WW. Yesterday Mr P S provided all paper-works with in 10 mins to WW.
BMW service adviser is unhappy as I didn’t renew the policy with BWM. I told him I will not make the same mistake again.

lisa says:
7 May 2015

We bought our Ford Galaxy from Car Giant and purchased a premier 3 year guarantee for a total of £799! It recently stopped working suddenly. Was fine, went into a shop and came back to my car. Turned the key and nothing…….. Radio turned on and dash lit up fine but no power to the engine.Called AA (who were fantastic..arrived about 20 mins later to help)they managed to get car started but still the key wouldn’t work! Took car to AA garage as was told by AA warranty people.They have just called and explained that the problem could be wiring and they can’t fix it.It needs to go to a Ford Dealership to be fixed .Now I’ve been told that the warranty doesn’t cover this and that this has to come from my pocket. I think it is stupid. Car Giant are misleading their customers into thinking this is absolutely necessary when this is simply not the case. The most common things that go wrong are not covered. I personally believe I was mislead into buying this and am very upset. Nowhere in paperwork does it say that wiring is not included when this is part of a cars electric system! Going to cost £100 an hour plus parts and could take days apparently. Rant over 🙁 Save your money people….. Don’t buy them 🙂

I see Warrantywise are still expecting customers to call an 0844 number, long after these were banned for customer services calls. It can be particularly expensive calling from a mobile. Lawrence Whittaker mocked me for mentioning this before.

Mr Whittaker, please read section J of this document: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/310044/bis-13-1368-consumer-contracts-information-cancellation-and-additional-payments-regulations-guidance.pdf

Yeah Right says:
3 June 2015

I suggest you re-read the section you’re on about as yo0u are wrong – again.

4. Other revenue sharing numbers would not comply. These are numbers in
which a portion of the call charge can be used to either provide a service or
make a small payment to the trader. These usually have the prefix 084 or
0871, 0872 or 0873.
5. Numbers with the prefix 0870 are not revenue sharing numbers. However,
they can be higher than a geographic cost, and will vary depending on the
tariff of the consumer’s telecom company. They would therefore not comply.

The 084 number has been replaced with an 034 number, so it is now compliant.

Bala says:
11 May 2015

We read all testimony from WW. Can WW disclose how many people took WW to court? It’s very clear WW only understand and speak legal action. I am about to pay £4500 to North Oxford BMW and collect my car. I think it’s important we work together and put WW out of business. This can only be done via public awareness, legal action and parliament. Perhaps more emails to your local MP please

webby says:
21 May 2015

My husband and I recently purchased a car for my daughter-in-law that came with 3 month WW cover. At no time during the sale of the car was anything more said about what was or wasn’t covered. Only that she would have piece of mind as she has 2 small children and a husband who is away a lot as he is in the Army and if anything went wrong she would be covered.
My daughter-in-law, received a letter about 3 weeks after purchasing the car asking if she wanted to extend the warrantee, both myself and my husband liaised with WW customer ‘care’ team and at no point did they mention any milage or age restrictions on the policy. The extension was taken out again to give piece of mind and in ‘good will’ that if it broke down it would be covered.
A short while after purchasing the car, the low oil pressure light came on intermitantly. Obviously she was concerned and we took it to be looked at by a recognised garage after checking where these were with WW.
The fault was diagnosed as the oil pump and was fixed for a cost of £530. The garage contacted WW to be told it wasn’t covered as it wasn’t a moving engine part. My husband who is an engineer called them up and argued that it was and they agreed this was an error and it was covered. They asked us to send the invoice in so that the claim could be settled. We did this promptly.
The following day we received a call saying it was not covered as my daughter in law had not done 1000 in the car.
At no point was this pointed out as a qualifying factor and if it was the extended insurance would not have been taken out as she only covers about 200 miles a month. Doing the math, this would mean she would never be covered.
We approached WW again and was directed to a clause that was about revisions to policies and contained this mileage and timescale. I again contacted WW to say no revision had been made, the call centre operator checked and agreed and said items would be covered but they still are not prepared to pay out even though 2 independent staff at their offices have said it was.
We are currently going trough the next stage of appeal and want yo know how a supposed ‘reputable’ company endorsed by a ‘celebrity’ can change their minds so many times in order to ‘ weasel’ out of paying a legitimate claim.
Just wanted to share my horror and to find out if anyone has any advice to give regarding getting the claim settled.

Steve Shutt says:
1 June 2015

With respect Quentin, Lawrence, if you really want to be transparent, why do you only publish the successful claims? If you published all claims and their outcome, it would allow people to build up a realistic picture of what they can expect from your policy. That really would be an industry first worth shouting about.

Bala says:
1 June 2015

Warrantywise should publish number of motorists took them to court. And the outcome. Expecting transparency from Warrantywise???. Please write to your MP

A Reid says:
15 June 2015

I just bought a used car from a dealer with WW’s Platinum cover, to wit all mechanical and electrical parts. After having owned the car for less than a month the steering suddenly developed a clunk when moving the wheel left or right, necessitating a breakdown call for me and my 8 months pregnant wife.

I took the car to the Mazda main dealer who told me a track rod has gone and that they would expect it to be covered under the terms of the warranty.

Why then was I not surprised when I received a call this morning to tell me that my claim has been declined? The headline of All Mechanical and Electrical Parts including wear and tear is clearly open to some interpretation.

It looks like I shall have to pursue this company through the court system, not really how I want to be spending my time with a baby imminent but I’m keen they don’t get away with this misrepresentation.

Worth the money? You decide.

Rakesh says:
24 June 2015

I just bought a policy with Warranty Wise and I regret it. My car had a sudden ABS issue just to know that that I am not fully covered in the first three months but was told that I am fully covered from day 1. I should have done my research before even subscribing to the service. I guess I should do what WHICH recommend, save money for any unexpected repair!!

Wiser Now! says:
26 July 2015

This is what it says on the Warrantywise document

“Introduction by Quentin Wilson
I’ve designed this warranty to meet the cost of repairing the car when a covered part suddenly and unexpectedly stops working or due to wear and tear – just doesn’t function properly. So unlike all other warranties, Warrantywise don’t always insist that a part has to physically breakdown for it to be covered.”

Perhaps Mr Willson would like to interpret his words above? Most normal people would interpret this as covering parts which fail due to wear and tear but in our case (Platinum Warranty) for some reason worn parts aren’t covered! Apparently the part (failed turbo) wasn’t physically broken – it was worn; and in any case the breakdown wasn’t “sudden and unexpected” or if it was we apparently caused consequential damage by continuing to drive with a known fault (which we didn’t).

If he does reply, perhaps Mr Willson could also explain why Warranty Wise Insurance Services (trading as Warrantywise) since 21 May 2015 are no longer authorised by the FCA? Presumably before that date Warrantywise considered their warranty to be a contract of insurance and needed to authorised? What changed Mr Willson? Oh yes, it’s a service and maintenance plan not an insurance policy. Warranty Wise Insurance Services (trading as Warrantywise)? That’s not an insurance company then?

The fact that they are no longer authorised and regulated by the FCA means that customers cannot refer complaints to the Financial Ombudsman.
Perhaps bear that in mind when you are considering whether to purchase their warranty.

2 September 2015

Having read all of this I am somewhat surprised that Andrew Whittaker FIMI willingly gave a brief previous history of himself …. What wasn’t mentioned was the fact he was also the director of a franchise company that sadly went to the wall and took a lot of his franchisees with him , upon inspection he was then banned from being a company director for a number of years…. So Andrew to preach like you did will stand you at nothing if your true past comes out ….

Sergiotachini, could you please provide more details?

Jason says:
7 September 2015

Please help! I bought a second hand Qashqai+2 in April and also paid #300 for a centurian warranty. The dealer told me the warranty covers everything and he stressed that if the clutch went and other things, we’d be covered. Sure enough,4 months later, the clutch went! The master and slave cylinder amongst a few other things. I got towed to the Nissan garage next to my house and they had someone from Centurian come out to asses it. It seems that this guy said that it was all wear and tear! The car has done 20,000 miles! Nothing was explained to me about the warranty other than it says that the master/slave cylinder is covered. Centurian said it doesn’t cover wear and tear! So I paid #1200 for the clutch and argued on the phone with Centurian that the car has done 20,000 miles and it isn’t likely to break from wear and tear. They are having none of it. Where do I stand? Can I goto the Ombudsmen and try and get them to pay that way? It looks like I would never get a claim paid out as everything can be blamed on wear and tear!

Wised up says:
3 January 2016

I have just purchased a second hand car along with a ww platinum warranty that was sold to me by the dealer, all sounded good at the time now after reading hundreds of bad reviews . I will be trying there 30 day cancellation policy wish me luck.

Absolutely useless product!
Warranty wise were quite happy to leave us without a vehicle for almost three weeks, including the Christmas Holidays, only to reject our claim. They are experts in ‘moving goalposts’ they give a reason to reject your claim which you counter only for them to change the reason.
We have two vehicles covered by these people, approximately £800 thrown away as they don’t refund.
Buy lottery tickets rather than buying their product, you have a better chance of a pay-out.

S Collins says:
3 April 2016

When my husband bought his van from a used commercial dealer in Bristol they gave him a 3 months warranties Cover. When the 3 month expired he was offered a 2 year premier warranty. His van was a 4 wheel drive transit used to tow his burger van to and from events.

A few months later his clutch went, which was covered under the policy. He took his van to an agreed approved repairer.

However, they refused his claim using every type of excuse to avoid paying out. First it was not unforeseen breakdown as he managed to drive it to the garage, even though the clutch was burning and slipping. Then the said it was wear and tear.

They were giving us conflicting informing to what the repairer was saying. They said the dual mass flywheel had caused the clutch failure. which is not covered; the repairer denied saying this. So we paid an engineer to inspect it and he reported it was clutch failure not wear and tear and the repairer agreed with him.

The warranty company then got their engineer to inspect it who said operator driving technique and using it for arduous purposes as it was on a grassed area. Their engineer did not recognise that it was a 4 wheel drive and in his report put as RWD.

We made a complaint to the Ombudsman and warranty company used the small print to say that as they vehicle was on grass it was off the road and not covered. This information was not in the terms and conditions supplied to us. The only reference was off road sports. My husband was just parked in an allotted spot at a charity event, which on occasions would be required to do given the nature of his business. The warranty company and the dealer knew what the van was being used for.

The Ombudsmans opinion was that we could not claim for the repair as it was in the policy wording. He did consider it to be misselling as they sold a policy that we could not claim on. They denied this but agreed to refund our premium and cancel the policy.

In our experience we would never take out warranty cover with this company. We would not trust them to payout in the event of a genuine claim.

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

VeryLucky says:
14 May 2016

I’ve just recently purchased a 2nd hand BMW on a 62 Plate and was just in the process of taking out a policy with Warrantywise today. Thank god I came across this forum. buyer beware.

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

They are big d##k heads, they help you with nothing, I had a brutal storie with “car protect”, they just trying to don’t pay you, and even if, you must pay first and then “perhaps” you get the refund. The only hundreds pounds wich I will give will be to a breakdown cover, like the aa or rac, or green flag, they cover parts as well and breakdown at a unique cost, wich I think is the only thing worth these days

Graham says:
19 May 2016

So with all these comments is there actually a warranty worth buying from any company?

I purchased my car 3 months ago and paid almost £500 For 3 years of warranty
3 weeks from buying the car the engine management light appeared- I called the car showroom back and they advised me to call the AA warranty company- so I did initially they were going to send me to Kent – I live in Essex! (They have my address) I explained this could prove difficult they then suggest a Halfords near me as they were approved so went there – unfortunately Halfords did not have the equipment to diagnose my car ( you would think that AA Warranty would know that as they know what car I have)
They then suggested another which I had to call and arrange – I was told by AA Warranty that there would be nothing to pay for the diagnostic- however when I got to the garage this was not their policy and I had to pay £72 for the diagnostic- the fiasco then started if this is not bad enough already- I booked the car in and agreed to leave the car with them from Friday until Wednesday the following week as I would be away but had to have it back – so no response from the garage or AA Warranty so I called the garage for an update they informed me that they were waiting on AA Warranty to authorise additional work and parts and it would be unlikely I would get the car back until Thursday- so I agreed even though an inconvenience- I called the garage Thursday morning to find out when I could pick the car up they were waiting on parts but car should be ready later that day – I called them again at around 3pm they advised it would be ready to pick up within an hour- I arrived to pick up the car to be advised that I have to pay £250 plus and that AA Warranty should have called me to advise (they had not) and therefore would not release the car – so the garage and called AA Warranty only to be told by there advisor David Tunks that there was nothing they could do and that they would look into it and would come back to me – I explained that I needed my car however David seemed increasingly uninterested as he probably wanted to go home as it was now 5pm after much tooing and frowing AA Warranty said to the garage that there was nothing outstanding for me to pay and that they could release the car – yay! Not quite the following day I received a call from David from AA Warranty saying I still have an outstanding amount to pay – he became increasingly rude adamant and arrogant as I tried to understand how and why – I also explained that I have not received a breakdown of any costs and when I asked to speak with his superior he refused and kept repeating that he was team manager and would not make anyone available he was extremely unhelpful and I would warn people- AA Warranty is this the reputation you want for your company as to how you treat your customers – seriously unimpressed and disgusted at your staff David Tunks – how does he still have a job!!! You need to look into this and fix it fast!