Can You Buy A Warranty For A Used Car?

One of the biggest unknowns when buying any used car isn’t a matter of IF something goes wrong, but typically WHEN. It’s one of the drawbacks that we accept the moment we opt to shop around in a used car market, in that we don’t know how the previous owner drove their car, how they cared for it, or whether or not they even had it serviced properly.

Obviously, new cars can have problems too, but at the very least, it’s a brand-new vehicle, that’s also backed by a long and comprehensive manufacturer warranty from the get-go. So… Can you buy a warranty for a used car? And if so, are they even worth it?

Actually, you can! You can indeed buy a warranty for a used car. Although, how much cover you get, how much the monthly costs are, or how and where you can apply for them, does vary. Nevertheless, opting for a warranty for your used car, while it does add to the running and ownership costs, does, in the long term, provide you with financial security and peace of mind, in case something goes wrong.

This is far better than needing to cover the costs of major repairs, with all the inconveniences this brings with it, out of pocket. So, if you bought a used car, it’s always a good idea to get a warranty for it. For the most part, aftermarket warranties for used cars, even older ones, bring with them similar privileges as manufacturer-backed warranties that new cars enjoy. In general, they provide financial coverage or benefits in the event of mechanical or electrical faults with your car.

Thus, they can cover part or all of the cost of repairs, including spare parts and labour hours. Some aftermarket warranties might even offer roadside assistance and car hire, or even pay for some travel expenses, in the event you can’t drive your car. Given how costly and complex car repairs are, I’d consider this a huge bonus.

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Types Of Used Car Warranties That You Can Get

One key factor to bear in mind is that there are varying types of used car warranties. With that in mind, it’s vital to note that no automotive warranty, neither a third-party provider nor a manufacturer’s warranty, will cover everything and anything with your car. In other words, the level of cover you get is relative to the age and mileage of the vehicle, as well as pre-existing wear and tear.

Therefore, make sure you read the terms and conditions of whichever warranty your car is covered under. At the very least, you can understand what it is and isn’t covered. Otherwise, if you want to get some warranty cover for that used car you just bought, here are some of the more common ones you’ll find here in the UK:

1. Approved Used Car Warranty

This is offered by a car manufacturer when you buy a car from their catalogue of approved used cars, oftentimes sold or tacked onto a used car purchase by the dealership associated with the car brand in question – i.e. Honda or Toyota, etc. It’s generally pretty comprehensive, given that it’s a manufacturer-backed warranty. But, the one downside is that the cover period for the warranty is typically short, normally 12 to 24 months on average.

Some of these carmakers and their dealerships might offer an extended warranty for used cars, as well. This is handy for when the original factory warranty is just about to run its course. Whether or not an approved pre-owned (used) car qualifies for an extended warranty is conditional on it being serviced regularly and cared for, and that there aren’t known underlying faults with it.

Of course, as a customer, you’re not obliged to accept the manufacturer’s or dealership’s approved used car warranty, even if you buy a used car from them. It’s still worth shopping around and looking at what you can get from a third-party warranty provider, instead. As we’ve seen in the case of Warrantywise, you might end up finding more comprehensive levels of cover or a more agreeable price with third-party providers.

2. Dealer Provided Warranty

Similar in concept to the aforementioned approved used car warranty, third-party, independent dealerships might offer a warranty programme of their own when you buy a used car from them. However, unlike a manufacturer-approved used car warranty – although, not all manufacturer-approved used car warranties are provided by a third party on behalf of the manufacturer – a dealer warranty is normally offered by a third-party warranty provider.

In addition, depending on the condition and age of the used car that you bought from them (among other factors), the length of the cover period and what it covers may vary. Also, some of the dealership warranties you might see are optional extras that you can bundle with a used car purchase. However, some dealerships might include a simple 12 to 24-month warranty for free when you purchase from them.

3. Manufacturer Warranty

If you bought a used car that’s still relatively new or if it still has some level of cover by the original manufacturer warranty – i.e. some of the top car brands here in the UK offer a 7-year or 100,000 miles warranty (whichever comes first) – then oftentimes, buying a used means that the warranty cover could pass on from the original owner of the car when it was new, to you.

Granted, while 7 years is the top-end of what you might get from a handful of select car brands, do keep in mind that most manufacturers in the UK still offer a 3-year warranty, while others may offer 5. Furthermore, they will offer you a proportionally decreasing level of cover, based on the age and mileage of your vehicle. So, that ‘7-year’ warranty does have some fine print that you need to thoroughly understand.

This residual warranty is subject to however much mileage or time the original manufacturer warranty has left when you bought it. Also, whether or not you get this warranty cover is conditional on getting the car serviced regularly.

4. Third-Party Aftermarket Warranty

This is usually the best kind of used car warranty, as aftermarket automotive warranties offer a great amount of flexibility with what vehicle you can apply it to. Unlike dealer warranties or manufacturer-backed approved used car warranties, a third-party warranty can be applied regardless of where you bought your car. This means regardless of the dealership in question, or if you bought your car privately.

In addition, you have the option of shopping around between aftermarket car warranty providers, comparing their quotes for your car, and checking to see which provider is able to offer the best level of cover for the price. For example, Warrantywise, one of the top aftermarket warranty providers in the UK, has their 12/120 plan, which could cover cars as old as 15 years old (so long as its mileage is below 150,000 miles) and could offer benefits such as covering for premature wear and tear or unexpected damage with your car’s engine components, the transmission system, drivetrain, differential, or even the clutch assembly.

If you’re familiar with other car warranties – third-party or otherwise, these terms and conditions ought to ring a bell. Similar terms and conditions apply to other warranties too, so take your time to understand these very clearly.

What Do Used Car Warranties Cover?

When you shop around for an aftermarket warranty for a used car, most warranty providers (depending on the plan or quote offered to you – this is vital!) offer a lot of coverage as standard. For example, with Warrantywise, their entry-level plan covers much of a used car’s electrical and mechanical components. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Oil seals and parts of your car’s lubrication system.
  • Gaskets, like the head gaskets, and so on.
  • Belts, like the drive belts, timing belts, and more.
  • Wiring looms, harnesses, etc. due to fraying or water damage.
  • Cooling system, like your car’s radiator, oil cooler, heater, etc.

With that in mind, Warrantywise will select the most appropriate level of cover for the age and mileage of your vehicle. From there, you can then select additional variables, such as whether you’d like to make any contribution to a certain repair amount or the garage/workshop labour rate you want to cover. This will come in handy depending on the make and model of the vehicle you’d want to cover, or if you prefer using the main dealership for a specific manufacturer.

Although, while aftermarket warranties, such as Warrantywise, give you cover for these subsystems and parts – so long as they haven’t come to the end of their natural lifespan and are just worn out – they also have optional coverage that you can tack onto your warranty plan. This will cost you extra in monthly or yearly premiums, but it does expand the financial safety net around more of your car in case things go wrong.

This can include, for example, covering for failures with your car’s emissions system, like issues with the catalytic converter. Or, they could cover the cost of repairs associated with an MOT failure, such as faulty lighting components, suspension assembly faults, and so on. Just make sure you’re aware of what the exclusions and cover limits are.

If you want a more in-depth analysis of this and an expanded overview as to what used, aftermarket warranties cover, both the by-default inclusions and optional extras you can specify, check out my in-depth guide here.

How Much Does A Used Car Warranty Cost?

The cost of getting and attaching a warranty for your used car does vary. It depends on a myriad of factors, such as:

  1. Where you’re getting the warranty fromas noted earlier, different used car warranty types will vary in cost. A more comprehensive approved used car warranty might, at times, cost you more than a dealership-offered used car warranty, since it might offer you a greater level of cover.
  2. Value of the used car you just boughtmore expensive cars entail higher monthly or yearly warranty premiums. This is due to the fact that pricier, more performant, or higher-end cars with a lot of tech and luxury features will often cost more to fix and service over time.
  3. Age of the used vehicleolder cars will cost more in monthly or yearly premiums to get that warranty cover for. After all, older cars are more prone to breakdowns and suffering system failures, so it’ll no doubt cost more to maintain, fix, and provide cover for.
  4. Mileage on the odometerjust like your car’s age, the mileage on the odometer is indicative of how frequently your car is used. A car that’s run more miles is more prone to experiencing sporadic issues and even premature wear and tear. As such, higher mileage cars cost more to maintain over time.
  5. Levels of cover you’re opting forcomprehensive used car warranties provide a greater level of cover for your used car, and could even offer additional benefits and services. However, given that they offer more in return, this will result in higher monthly or yearly premiums compared to more basic warranties.

To give you some context into how much an aftermarket car warranty costs, Motor Verso’s latest project car, a 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed, costs £174 per month in premiums for that used car warranty, as quoted by the folks at Warrantywise.

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Not only is this a higher-end, pricier, luxury car, but it’s also a bit on the older side for getting a new warranty in 2024. Plus, it’s done quite a bit of miles for a car in its class, and the cost of spare parts and repairs isn’t going to be cheap. Add a comprehensive warranty from Warrantywise on top of that, and it’ll raise the price of the warranty premiums even further.

Are Warranties For Used Cars Worth It?

While the Bentley mentioned earlier does cost quite a bit to get warranty cover for, I’d still argue that it’s worth it, nevertheless. £174 each month isn’t cheap by any means, but compared to the cost of replacement parts and the labour hours needed to fix the Continental GT if and when things do go wrong, it could massively limit the financial risks and downside of owning a used vehicle.

Of course, using a Bentley Continental GT is an extreme example, but with most of the more popular used cars on the budget, entry-level end of the market, like a Toyota Yaris or a Suzuki Swift, it’s still worth the price.

There are plenty of other benefits to getting a warranty on top of a used car purchase, as well. Some of the more noteworthy ones that I could name at the top of my head include:

  • Giving you added peace of mind, knowing that you have a financial safety net in case something goes wrong with your car.
  • Hedging your bets with repair costs, as a warranty cover (subject to the terms and conditions of the plan you’re getting) could substantially limit unexpected repair costs, rather than needing to cover everything out of pocket.
  • Transferability to a new owner if you decide to part ways with your car (some, though not all, used car warranty providers offer this). This could make your car more appealing for would-be buyers, and even increase its resale value.
  • Inclusion of additional perks and benefits (again, subject to the level of cover you subscribe to). Warrantywise, for instance, offers roadside vehicle recovery, temporary car hires, and even compensation for travel expenses if you can’t drive your car for the time being.

If you want more in-depth analysis and my thoughts on why the benefits offered by aftermarket warranties for used cars are definitely worth the cost and premiums, check out my detailed guide here.

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