Understanding what a warranty is and how it covers you is an important part of the new car buying process.
Warranties are a form of consumer guarantee usually imposed by the manufacturer itself, to cover you in the event of a fault within the defined warranty period.
That said, a warranty doesn’t protect you for every little thing that goes wrong. To make matters confusing, manufacturers often vary on what’s included within their warranty guarantees, too.
But, as a baseline, a warranty is designed to cover a car and its accessories with regard to safety, reliability and roadworthiness. Most notably, if it has anything to do with the drivetrain, fittings, paint, tech or functionality of the car, it’s likely to be fixed under a warranty scheme if it breaks – but for a limited time only.
Most warranties sold with new cars cover you for at least three years and up to 100,000 kilometres, but the best deals can have your back for up to seven years and include unlimited kilometres.
Try as you might, wear and tear on your car can’t be fixed with a warranty. Any defects arising after repeated wearing down, resulting from misuse or occurring after motorsport participation is generally not included in a warranty. Regular maintenance and servicing is the responsibility of the owner as well.
That means items such as brake pads, tyres, oil, other fluids, filters, spark plugs, timing belts and clutches fall to the owner to replace.
If a vehicle is sold with a balance of warranty, it automatically transfers to the new owner – which can be a positive selling point when listing your near-new car for sale.
Read next: Extended warranty fast facts
Some manufacturers won’t honour the warranty if you don’t service your car using their dealership servicing, but the good makes will, so long as genuine parts and manufacturer-recommended fluids are used. It’s always best to check what the required conditions are with the dealership before buying.
Less ambiguous is what happens after you modify your new car. Generally speaking, if you tune or change any part of your car (even if it’s indirectly related to the faulty part), it could void your warranty. Again, best to enquire with the dealership and do your research to see if you’re covered if you plan on going down that route.
With all this said, there are always exceptions to the exclusions and inclusions listed within this story. Some manufacturers like Hyundai will continue to warrant its i30 N even after having participated in a track day.
It’s good to have an idea of what to expect when it comes to warranties, but always do your own research before diving into a purchase to save yourself being burnt in the future.