New car warranty comparison: What do you get from every manufacturer?

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Among the litany of things to consider when purchasing a new car, your warranty could well be the deciding factor.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) defines manufacturer warranties as “voluntary promises offered by the manufacturer about what they will do if something goes wrong with a new car”.

“Manufacturer warranties apply for a specified time and may add to consumers’ automatic rights under the Australian Consumer Law guarantees,” the ACCC explains.

“Manufacturer warranties come with conditions that limit the coverage and what consumers can claim for.”

NOTE: This story was first published April 19, 2020.

But while the basic principle may be the same across the board, what a warranty looks like can vary dramatically from brand to brand.

Generally speaking, manufacturers’ warranties can range from three years or 100,000 kilometres of coverage (whichever comes first), up to seven years or unlimited kilometres.

Luxury brands tend to have shorter warranty periods, but a move from Mercedes-Benz to up its warranty period from three to five years has placed pressure on its peers to follow suit. Indeed, two days before this story was filed, Volvo did.

But, when it comes to warranties, there’s no getting around the fact a little research may be required in order to confirm you’re getting the best possible deal.

According to the 2016 Lemon Car Report by consumer advocacy publisher Choice, 66 per cent of new car buyers face problems with their new cars in the first five years of owning them – with 14 per cent of new car buyers facing what they’d classify as a major problem.

So, how long is long enough? And what kinds of things are covered?

For guidance, we turned to Graham Cooke, Insights Manager at financial comparison site, for his take on some commonly asked questions.

What length of warranty should I be looking for at a minimum?

“Under consumer law it’s as long as you’d expect the product to last and you’d expect a car to run for 3-4 years without any extensive issues,” Mr Cooke says.

Australian Consumer Law applies to vehicle purchases, just as it would any other goods or services. In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty your vehicle must “be of acceptable quality (including that it is safe, durable and free from defects)” this protection extends “for an unspecified but reasonable time”.

Like your new car warranty, ACL protection doesn’t cover wear and tear, user damage, neglect, or scheduled replacement items. It can take time and effort on your behalf to pursue a claim, but the ACCC is able to offer advice if you think you may have an out-of-warranty claim.

What kinds of things should my car warranty cover?

Warranties typically cover any mechanical failures resulting from faulty or defective design or parts. Roadside assistance, towing costs or a loan car may also be covered if your car breaks down due to a warranty issue.

However, Mr Cooke says the key is checking if there are “payment limits” set in the warranty.

“There will be maximum payments covered on things that can go wrong,” he says – adding that checking the fine print is always advisable. If towing or accommodation form part of a warranty offer there may be a cap on distance or a price cap for accommodation.

What doesn’t my car warranty cover?

“Anything to do with human error will not be covered, wear and tear won’t be covered, and coverage may disappear if you drive over a certain distance,” Mr Cooke explains, urging consumers to clarify these details with their manufacturer before committing to a car.

Mr Cooke says some issues outside of specified warranty coverage terms could instead be covered by insurance, contingent on what the issue is, and the terms of your warranty policy.

Can I void my warranty by skipping a scheduled service?

We’ve elaborated on that topic here, but Mr Cooke says that in some cases, skipping scheduled servicing could put your warranty in doubt.

“In some cases that can be true. There’s a minimum level of care you have to demonstrate – you can just ask the dealer, most dealers will be happy to let you know the repercussions,” he says.

Do used cars come with warranties too?

According to Mr Cooke, a longer warranty is “definitely something you sacrifice for the reduced price of used cars”.

“They’ll typically have shorter warranties from dealers than new cars. Often they will come with the dealer warranty, not the manufacturer warranty.”

When buying a used car from a dealer that’s out of its manufacturer warranty period, you will receive a statutory warranty.

Typically, a statutory warranty is a three-month or 5000km (whichever comes first) warranty available if a car is less than 10 years old and hasn’t travelled more than 120,000-160,000km.

The time period and criteria of the statutory warranty will vary from state to state, so contact your state’s consumer body for more detailed information.

Are extended warranties worth it?

“You’ve got to pay attention to the details to find out,” Mr Cooke explains.

“A lot of new cars come with quite long manufacturer warranties, so if you’re going to look for an extended warranty it would need to extend into the period where the car would be more susceptible to break down.”

If you do opt for a manufacturer warranty, Mr Cooke says: “Be cautious that if it’s one that’s been offered by the dealership, that’s often not as good as manufacturer or third party because dealerships are incentivised to sell them. It’s the same with car loans.”

Extended warranties, unlike new car warranties, are often structured like an insurance policy. Certain terms and conditions regarding vehicle usage and servicing may have to be met, there may be exclusions, claim limits may apply and an excess could be payable. Careful scrutiny of the terms and conditions is essential.

Are extended warranties transferable?

Be aware that extended warranties, unlike manufacturer warranties, are not usually transferable when it comes time to sell your car.

“Generally, if you sell your car while it is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, the remaining warranty period automatically passes onto the new owner (unless the warranty states otherwise),” says Consumer Affairs Victoria.

“However, an extended warranty does not normally pass onto the new owner. In such cases, you may be able to cancel the extended warranty and get a refund for any coverage you had left. You may have to pay an early cancellation fee, but this should be limited to a reasonable amount.”

Again, arm yourself with info before you sign up. If you don’t intend to keep a vehicle for longer than the extended warranty term, a shorter policy might be a more cost-effective option.

What if I have an issue outside of my warranty period?

Mr Cooke says building a relationship with a service centre or manufacturer could come in handy in this instance.

“That’s where building that relationship with a dealer or brand really comes in handy,” he explains, adding that under those circumstances, some dealers or manufacturers will be willing to stretch the warranty as a show of good grace.

If you do experience a warranty issue outside of your warranty period, you still have protection under Australian Consumer Law.

What does every manufacturer offer?

Below, a breakdown of each manufacturer’s standard warranty for new, privately-owned cars. Please note, some of these warranties may differ due to limited-time offers on certain models.

Alfa Romeo: 3-year/150,000km

Alpine: 3-year/unlimited km for the first 2 years, limited to 100,000km for the third year.

Aston Martin: 3-year/unlimited km

Audi: 3-year/unlimited km (with a limited-time trial of a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty for cars sold in May or June 2020 – more here)

Bentley: 3-year/unlimited km

BMW: 3-year/unlimited km

Citroen: 5-year/unlimited km

Chrysler: 3-year/100,000km

Fiat: 3-year, 150,000km

Ferrari: 3-year/unlimited km

Ford: 5-year/unlimited km

Foton: 3-year/100,000km

Genesis: 5-year/unlimited km

Great Wall: 5-year/150,000km

Haval: 7-year/unlimited km

Honda: 5-year/unlimited km

Hyundai: 5-year/unlimited km

Infiniti: 4-year/100,00km

Isuzu: 6-year/150,000km

Jaguar: 3-year/100,000km (with a limited-time offer of 5-year/unlimited km on vehicles sold before September 30, 2020 – more information here)

Jeep: 5-year/100,000km.

Kia: 7-year/unlimited km

Lamborghini: 3-year/unlimited km

Land Rover: 3-year/100,000km (with a limited-time offer of 5-year/unlimited km on vehicles sold before September 30, 2020 – more information here)

LDV: 5-year/130,000km

Lexus: 4-year/100,000km

Lotus: 3-year/unlimited km

Mahindra: 3-year/100,000km

Maserati: 3-year/unlimited km

Mazda: 5-year/unlimited km

McLaren: 3-year/unlimited km

Mercedes-Benz: 5-year/unlimited km

MG: 7-year/unlimited km

Mitsubishi: 10-year/200,000km – but only when serviced within the Mitsubishi dealer network. Details here.

Nissan: 5-year/unlimited km

Peugeot: 5-year/unlimited km

Porsche: 3-year/unlimited km

Ram: 3-year/unlimited km

Rolls-Royce: 4-year/unlimited km

Renault: 5-year/200,000km warranty for commercial van range, including new Kangoo, Trafic, and Master; 3-year/unlimited km warranty for Kangoo Z.E. (5yr/100,000km warranty for battery/powertrain); 5-year/unlimited km warranty for new Koleos, Megane R.S., and Kadjar; 7-year/unlimited km for Koleos sold between 1st April and 30th September 2020.

SsangYong: 7-year/unlimited km

Subaru: 5-year/unlimited km

Suzuki: 5-year/unlimited km

Tesla: 4-year/80,000km (battery and drive unit warranty varies according to model – more info here)

Toyota: 5-year/unlimited km

Volkswagen: 5-year/unlimited km

Volvo: 5-year/unlimited km – more here.

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