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Consumer Rights.

What to do if your car warranty company won’t pay for repairs

Don't be fobbed off if your car warranty company won’t pay for repairs. Follow our advice on contacting the warranty provider and taking the complaint further.
Which?Editorial team

1 Check your warranty terms and conditions 

Check the terms of your warranty carefully so you know exactly who is providing the cover. You also need to be aware of any exclusions in the warranty.

Companies may refuse to carry out repairs for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that the warranty didn’t cover the particular problem in the first place.

It's always important to check the terms and conditions of the warranty as this will show what is and isn’t covered.

Key Information

The three types of car warranty

Manufacturer's warranty  This is the warranty that a new car is sold with and ends after a set number of years, or could end sooner if the car covers a certain number of miles.

This warranty is a contract between you and the manufacturer.

It gives you rights against the manufacturer in addition to your rights under the Consumer Rights Act (which replaces the Sale of Goods Act from October 2015) against the dealer that sold the car.

You also have rights against the Hire Purchase (HP) company under the Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973 if you bought your car on HP.  

Dealer warranty  Usually supplied with the car, for example where the manufacturer's warranty has expired.

The warranty cover may be provided either by the dealer itself or by a third party eg an insurance company.

Whether the cover is provided by the dealer or a third party, it creates specific obligations that the warranty provider must comply with (ie to do whatever the warranty says the dealer must do).

These are also in addition to your rights against the dealer or any HP company.

Extended warranty  This is usually taken out by the owner of the car when the warranty the car came with has expired.

It works in the same way as other warranties but is often bought directly from the warranty company on expiry of an existing warranty rather than being a warranty that is provided on the sale of the car.

2 Contact the warranty provider 

Contact the warranty provider and quote the section of the policy document that makes it clear that the remedial work you need doing is covered.

If the warranty provider refuses to arrange, or pay for the repairs, ask it to set out in writing exactly why it considers that it is not responsible.

3 Don't be fobbed off

If the warranty provider doesn’t give a good reason for refusing the claim or doesn’t respond to you at all, get quotes for carrying out the work.

Send these to the warranty provider explaining that if it continues to refuse to carry out the work, you'll claim the cost back from them of having the work carried out. 

If the warranty company is refusing to pay up for something that is clearly covered then it'll be in breach of contract.

You can claim the cost of getting a third party to carry out the work.

But you will  need to have given the warranty company every chance to change its mind and carry out the work and let it know that you will seek the repair costs from it if it continues to refuse.

4 Taking your complaint further 

If the warranty provider is the dealer that sold you the car, you may need to take it to court. Check first though whether the dealer is a member of any trade association. 

If so also check whether that association offers any sort of alternative dispute resolution process. If it doesn’t then you could consider taking court action. 

Court action should always be a last resort and you should make sure that you have taken all steps to resolve the dispute. 

In England and Wales there's a Practice Direction on Pre Action Conduct which helps you with this process by setting out the steps you should take.

If the warranty is underwritten by an insurance company, you could refer the dispute to the Financial Ombudsman Service. 

You'll need to have exhausted the warranty provider’s internal complaints procedure first, or be able to show that more than eight weeks have passed since you referred your complaint to the insurance company and that the matter remains unresolved.