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The Truth Behind New Car Warranties

There are lots of things to consider when buying a new car and most of us make at least some attempt to have some sort of selection criteria. These might include the purchase price, fuel economy, insurance costs, emissions and level of equipment on offer. Some of us will be concerned with performance figures and lots of us are attracted by certain prestige badges.

There are lots of things to consider when buying a new car and most of us make at least some attempt to have some sort of selection criteria. These might include the purchase price, fuel economy, insurance costs, emissions and level of equipment on offer. Some of us will be concerned with performance figures and lots of us are attracted by certain prestige badges. A select few may actually look at depreciation and work out the total cost of ownership over a certain period. Let's not kid ourselves, though: it can be an emotional decision, too.

One area that far too few of us consider is the warranty. For many years, a three year warranty was pretty much the standard, then certain makes extended this to five years. Kia even offers a seven year warranty. When the salesman in the showroom mentions the warranty, we usually just nod and move on. Even three years seems a long way away when you are buying a new car and aren't these things all pretty standard anyway? Actually, they are not and the different warranties on offer could end up saving you, or costing you, a great deal of money.

That seven year Kia warranty, for example, looks great but actually it is limited to 100,000 miles, so high mileage drivers might run out of warranty sooner than they think. The paint is only covered for five years and the audio system for three. Breakdown cover is included for one year. Hyundai's warranty doesn't look as tempting at first glance, at only five years. A closer look, however, will reveal that the audio system and breakdown cover extends for the full five years. High wear components on the Kia, such as clutches and brakes, are not covered on the Kia but they get two years cover under the Hyundai warranty. Toyota and Subaru have five year warranties but only cover paint defects for three years. Renault's four year warranty is beginning to look uncompetitive at four years and again only covers paint for three.

The warranty market is really all about buyer beware. Vauxhall advertises a 'lifetime' warranty but actually it's only 100,000 miles. Paint defects are a miserly one year and the industry standard 12 year anti-perforation cover is halved to six years. Are they trying to tell us something about the quality of their paintwork? When you come to sell your car, the warranty usually transfers with the vehicle but not with Vauxhall. This is just another example of why it pays to look at that small warranty print.

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