/ 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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Having admired Quentin Willson’s work for many years I suggested that the Warrantywise product being offered to a family member must be a good one.

Sure you can guess what happened.

Bad mistake…..

Gary Brennan says:
18 July 2016

I have a limited edition Subaru CS400 which I covered with a warrantywise cover 18 months ago. The car has been in a garage for 50 weeks now!! Warrantywise say its the garage’s fault the engine is broken as a cambelt was put on wrongly. Help how do I get Quentin Willson’s address to “pay him a VISIT”


I’m another victim of Warrantywise and their special brand of the English language. Just compare the generous undertakings on their web site with the harsh realities of their terms and conditions. I was wondering if anyone has taken these guys to court successfully on the basis of alleged misleading statements?

Dissatisfied says:
13 September 2016

Warranties 2000 please avoid it they will try anything to avoid paying out. Their ‘Independent Engineer’ admitted to Halfords that it was a mechanical failure but when he got back to his office he reported that it was ‘Fair Wear and Tear’
Pretty crooked if you ask me!! I suggest you keep him in phone book Warranty 2000, he will save you a load

Gordon Glover says:
18 September 2016


Very good point Gordon, majority people would not have picked up on this !

Never again will I purchase a used car warranty I paid £1200 for three year warranty from the AA on a £16,000 Freelander with 47 K milage , advise anybody do not waste your monies, certainly read every bit of the agreement if your still serious about taking one out .
My clutch went within a year with serious mechanical failure in the pressure plate that caused the driven
plate to burn out to the point of glowing with heat.
They claimed this was fair wear and tear, so not covered.
My opinion of the way the AA senior people in this warranty dept come across when telephoned leave,s a lot to be desired they were very curt, am dreading anything else going wrong in the next 18 months as I know what attitude to expect from them.
As said never again.

Not worth the paper they’re written on. Bought a warranty from Warranties 2000 with a car that only had £50K miles and FDSH, assuming it would protect us against the “big stuff”. Unfortunately when it came to a claim, the warranty company sent an “Independent Engineer” to the garage I have used and trusted for 15 years, did precious little diagnostics and reported back to the warranty company that the fault was down to wear and tear……On a fuel pump! It seems that the term “Wear & Tear” could be used to almost anything, once the car has left the factory as far as these jokers are concerned. Independent they may be, but impartial? I’ll let you decide.

Don’t waste your money, just put it into a rainy day pot marked “repairs” and leave it at that.

van in garage for 3 weeks, 2 inspections by wwise, engine taken apart at my expense so they could check to see what was wrong, van dealer offered to pay half the cost as engine needs replacing but still no joy, being self-employed loss of earnings, do they care NO !!!!! I will take this to watchdog, rough traders, Which, CAB, trading standers, Facebook, county court, the public need to know the cons of having a warranty with Wwise, the even said the warranty had run out, policy said renew date 13, van went into garage on the 9th, shocking shocking shocking

My experience with Warrantywise : Don’t for second think that this company will look after your claim from start to finish taking all the stress and hassle out of it.. No no.. it’s up you to do all the leg work from contacting garages, arranging times, getting quotes, taking photos of the damage etc etc. These guys just want your money and will put every obstacle in your way to not pay out. I obtained 2 quotes for coil springs and they are only prepared to pay 30% of total repair. That’s with their Silver cover! They seem to have no idea on the cost of car repairs!

thinking of purchasing RAC gold warranty parts and labour does any body know how good/bad they are?

I have AA Breakdown Warranty, which is a bolt-on onto my AA Membership. They cover £500 parts and labour and they have paid out on Crankshaft oil seal, injectors, Clutch Slave Cylinder, Lambda Sensors. They are a motoring organisation and endorse thier product. They fulfill thier breakdown obligations very well. They do put the motorist first. A very cost effective warranty for older cars.

Peter says:
3 May 2017

Warrantywise- Purchased 10 warrantees over a 2 month period spending almost £1000 with them so that my customers could have peace of mind after purchasing a car from me. The first customer who approached Warrant wise for a repair was fobbed off with some lame excuse as to why they would not pay for the repair. I ended up paying over £600 (trade) to repair the car myself on top of the cost for the bogus warranty. When I called warranty wise up to complain I was told that the service history was incomplete even though the car was serviced a week before the customer took the car and that the service history was very good with lots of stamps in the service book. I then pointed out that when taking out the warranty on their website it gave me the option to select part service history which was accepted and they went ahead and took my payment. Today someone from warranty wise called me and told me that only the last year of services is necessary! They change their rules on a daily basis. Finely, they told me to read their small print with regards to terms. They are typical in this industry, very happy to take payment but more than reluctant to fulfil a warranty! Total rip off merchants, I would not touch them with a barge pole! One of my customers told me a long time ago that a warranty is not worth the paper it’s written on, at the time I disagreed, how right he was.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

warrentywise. wear and tear covered up to 100k miles or 10 years old? no chance . when is wear and tear not wear and tear ? when its deterioated due to in service wear!! fault developed with dual mass clutch rattling, their engineer inspected it coming out of vehicle , agreed it was worn and needed replaced but then this b******t wordplay comes up and they refuse to pay out. crooks.

Warranty Companies are a business, just like any other they are there to make money. The less they pay out the more money they make! Hence they make it hard when it’s time to claim. We are an Independent Garage established for over 68 years, we no longer carry out work for Warranty Companies as they are so bad to deal with! Keep your money!

I have bought a Range Rover 3 weeks ago from a dealer, been ripped off but got 3 months warranty by warranty 2000 from the dealer, who do I get in touch with about repairs

If the dealer sold you the warranty then I would start by contacting the dealer. It’s essential to check what is and is not covered by the warranty.

You could obtain free advice from Citizens Advice or subscribe to the Which? Legal service: https://legalservice.which.co.uk/?rt=Brand&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIg_Lc7Z6O2QIVpwrTCh2yAgi5EAAYASAAEgK4gvD_BwE

Best of luck.

|ALL companies will try to avoid paying out money if they think they possibly can .They are all in business to make money and don’t like having to give any away if they can avoid it by any means legally or illegally because they will still have many customers without you Only small businesses NEED you custom the large ones could not care less about tiny you ,you are a nobody to them

What happens if you sell the car on withing the 36 month period of the warranty?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Mohammad says:
19 May 2018

I would like to share my experience with AA Gold Cover Mechanical Warranty I.E Motorway Direct, I purchased a BMW 3 Series with AA Gold Cover Warranty in January 2017, as I was purchasing the vehicle from Cargiant UK I had full intentions of declining the offer of the warranty which their sales advisors speak so highly of, due to the fact of all the reviews and personal feedback from all my friends and family I had made the decision to decline the offer up until the sales advisor answered all my questions and reassured me that if anything mechanically went wrong then I am covered hence why I went ahead and bought the cover for three years for £800+. The warranty is so carefully worded in their Terms & Conditions which is not available to anyone unless you request it personally from a AA sales advisor. (Basically any sudden mechanical failure is covered HOWEVER if it was caused by a part that had been worn out then the claim is rejected.

Once the claim was raised AA advised me to take the car to my local Halfords however from my knowledge of motor vehicles and parts I knew for certain Halfords would not be able to fix it. And guess what, I was right, so imagine I were to pay £100 for a tow truck to take it there only to waste my time, AA would not be liable to pay for my recovery costs even though they reassured me that they can fix it. (I called Halfords personally and confirmed they are unable to look into it as they do not have specialist tools needed for this particular job)

I had a timing chain jump 7 weeks ago. On my model BMW with an N47 engine it was a very well known problem that the timing chain jumps suddenly (it was on Watchdogs for that exact error), now as soon as the chain jumped (Sudden mechanical breakdown) I was so confident and reassured by AA advisors that it is something they cover within their warranty, so they had to get MY approval for my garage to authorise a strip down of my engine to locate the exact error which approximately took 12.25 hours and the reason they had to get my authorisation for the engine strip is due to the fact of if it is a problem that is not covered under the warranty I am liable for all costs.

The claim was raised on the 19th March 2018, AA have turned around and declined the claim on the 14th May 2018 purely based on the fact that my timing chain had been stretched which has caused my chain to jump and decided to decline the claim leaving me a total bill of £2500 to pay with no contribution at all.

However after a very informative conversation with BMW themselves I was advised that when a timing chain jumps it happens suddenly as you do not get warned by any prior breakdowns nor a warning light on the dashboard. The timing chain is kept behind the engine and in order to even see it you would have to strip the entire engine as well as the gearbox, now my vehicle has been serviced brilliantly on time and looked after very well in excellent condition which I have proved to AA after they requested all my invoices and full service history which I happily provided reassuring me that it should be fine. ( All calls are recorded).

My issue is that they did not seem to compensate me whatsoever nor did they even offer a penny of contribution towards the total cost. I would like to warn everyone on Trustpilot who seeks reviews that the warranty is absolutely not worth the hard earned money. Majority of parts on a car is wear and tear as soon as you start driving them so how are you meant to claim on a ‘sudden mechanical breakdown’ if that’s the case?

I would do everything in my power to ensure all my friends and family as well as all my colleagues avoid buying this warranty and just stick to Manufacturs warranty as that is the only one that is worth it.

I have complained to the warranty company awaiting a response but I am certain they will not give me the outcome I want hence why I am awaiting my final response letter in order to take it to the Financial Ombudsman who I work close with in my current job role. I have written literature by BMW themselves who can confirm my situation which can help my case against AA (Motorway Direct) strongly. I actually would have been happy if they at least paid for half of my bill however this is not the case.

All of the viewers here if you are purchasing a vehicle that has high maintainance or rather costly parts you do not want to purchase this warranty, as you can imagine Warranty companies would go through every avenue to ensure they have completed their enhanced checklist before paying you out. In my case a 6 week claim and at the end having their contracted ‘specialist vehicle assessors’ coming to my garage to do a site visit to inspect my vehicle only to say ‘my timing chain is stretched’.

The service has been 50/50 as they are well trained to empathise with customers. However I have had sleepness nights and suffer from anxiety only due to this claim as I have been worrying so much about the claim rejection which I was so shocked by. I am so prepared and confident ready to open my case with the Ombudsman with all the literature I hold at the moment.

Good Luck to all purchasing this warranty and think about all possible outcomes and also ensure you read the T&C’s carefully.

FYI – Cargiant have offered me a partial refund due to this which I can prove. I wonder why? They would not provide me with a penny if I was in any sort of way in the wrong.

I will most definitely update this review once AA have come back to me with a final response.

Although our problem was nothing like yours, when we had a problem with the AA we wrote to the CEO and got a good result. You could try:

Mohammad – I had no difficulty in finding the terms & conditions of the AA warranty online, so I don’t know why you had to request this: http://www.aawarranty.co.uk/sourcefiles/GoldCoverExcessMBIKeyFactsText-AAWarranty.pdf

This looks like part of the Watchdog programme about the BMW N47 engine you mention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQpQIi7gI_U

The warranty, like most warranties, excludes wear and tear but providing a vehicle is properly maintained (especially oil changes) a timing chain should last a long time, and in my view there is a reasonable case for a warranty claim especially in view of what seems to be a well documented problem. I’ll be interested to know the outcome of your case.

I had hoped that the Consumer Rights Act, 2015, would have prescribed action to be taken by companies in the event of premature failure of goods where a design fault has been established. In the case of an engine, this would be dependent on evidence of proper servicing.

Apple offers owners of its products free repairs and other remedies where faults have been established: https://www.apple.com/uk/support/exchange_repair/ This often requires a fair amount of pressure from aggrieved customers, but at least it happens. The motor industry has a long history of ‘goodwill’ and in 1989 I was fortunate to be offered a new engine by VW more than two years after the one year guarantee had expired. I had to pay the installation cost but I was impressed at the time.

Many years ago, many suffered problems with overhead camshafts on Ford engines and the company made them readily available at low cost.

I would like to see engines designed so that the tension and condition of the timing belt could be visually inspected at services.

As far as I know a proven design fault should fall under the “pre-existing fault” requirement of the CRA. However, the fault may not manifest itself (break) within the first 6 years, so the CRA would not apply. It may not be classed as a pre-existing fault if there is/was no physical flaw in the component, for example. That is where the “durability” clause should come into play – something that does not a reasonable length of time (given appropriate conditions such as price) should also attract redress.

I have asked my garage before about inspecting a timing belt. They regard it as a waste of time as detecting flaws that might cause breakage is very difficult. So take the precautionary approach and replace it at the recommended intervals. Certainly replacement should be made as easy (cheap) as possible.It is highly advisable to replace any guides and probably the water pump at the same time, if that is driven off the same belt.

I was very lucky with my old Espace. Someone had borrowed it, thought it made a “funny noise” when they started it so wisely didn’t drive it and let my garage know. The timing belt has jumped a couple of notches. With that engine I’m not sure if a breakage would have been catastrophic. In some the valves and pistons cannot collide when out of timing.

What I would like to see is where there is a proven design fault the manufacturer should come up with a fair remedy and publicise this, as Apple does. Treat all customers with the same problem in the same way and don’t expect them to have to jump through the same hoops that they would have to do if this was a normal claim under the Consumer Rights Act.

Being able to inspect a timing belt may show signs of cracking or wear. I see that as providing reassurance and not a substitute for routine replacement. Being able to inspect a timing chain will make it easy to see if there is excessive play and could alert the owner to he possibility of forthcoming engine damage.

My car is booked in to have the timing belt changed soon and the other parts replaced at the same time will cost more than the belt but labour is the main cost.

There are some ‘non-interference’ engines where the pistons and valves cannot meet each other travelling in the opposite direction, but most modern OHC engines just suffer major damage and it is downright dangerous if it happens on a motorway.

I would guess it is probably more important to be able to inspect the tensioner of a timing chain. I understand BMW made goodwill gestures to replace timing chains on affected (I don’t know how many) engines. I assume routine servicing by a competent garage would be a pre-requisite, as a noisy chain would then be most likely to be detected before it became a catastrophe.

We should ask Which? and its European partners to lobby the EU to make access to parts that need routine replacement as easy (and therefore cheap) as possible. Driving light sources is one much complained about.

Inspecting the tensioner could be difficult but providing that the tension can be checked that’s probably adequate. Even if goodwill gestures are made then this information should be publicly available to help others. What contribution would be appropriate would depend on the type of product, typical life and the amount of of use or age of the goods. Any claim under a guarantee or warranty would be dependent on correct use and appropriate servicing so that should apply to goodwill contributions too.

My trusted mechanic told me that it normally takes at least four hours to replace a timing belt in a modern vehicle because the engine is shoehorned into such a small space compared with older designs. At one time it was a fairly easy job to change a timing belt, even on diesel engines.

No-one seems to have listened to our requests for car bulbs that can be changed by the user without tools, spare wheels and part that are easy to replace in white goods. Of course any manufacturer could do this without being pushed and that would command respect from those capable of a little DIY.

Pal says:
23 June 2018

Should find out how long the the part is ment to last from dealer then tell them if it’s early

Hi all,

AA Warranty is the most not serious company I worked so far.
Not paying for the services which I’m paying for.
They’ve put me on the way for seven weeks to fix my car, all the garages they gave me, no one was able to deal with BECAUSE AA it is not paying.
I have contact AA for so many times and aski them what is going on, and because they are not professionals and having unprepared staff, they where sending me to different departments ( trying to solve by myself, their job ).
But, still, after seven weeks, waiting for my car, changing garages, calling them, asking them, no one was able to tell me what does it cover and what doesn’t .
The garages contacted me and them to tell us what is wrong.
But, when I was calling AA, just to make things move faster, they where telling that no one contact them. Stupid attitude and trying to hide from responsibility.
Bottom of all, I will recommend to all customers and future customers, read carefully the contract and PLEASE, stay away from them, they are not so good as you see.
It’s waste of time and energy for nothing.