Sep 21, 2022 | Industry

Your car’s warranty: there to protect you 

South Africa, 21 September 2022: All new vehicles as well as some used ones are sold with warranties. These are there to protect you, as the buyer, from the implications of certain paint, structural, mechanical or electrical breakdown or failure in the vehicle that may arise. There is, however, a difference in the types of warranty and what is covered. The National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) explains:

Manufacturer’s warranty

All new vehicles are sold with a manufacturer’s warranty. The warranty is provided by the motor manufacturer or importer of the particular brand of vehicle and it is a promise that the vehicle should do what it is intended to do. If not, then the buyer can have the matter attended to and the faulty component repaired or replaced.

The manufacturer’s warranty is restricted by time or distance travelled, and will differ between car brands. Typically, warranties are valid for three to seven years and up to between              100 000km and 150 000km travelled. There are also limitations as to what components are covered. Normally mechanical faults in major components, for example, the engine or gearbox, are covered. However, most manufacturers’ warranties do not cover wear-and-tear items such as tyres, wiper blades and brake pads, which would generally be looked after by a service or maintenance plan.

Depending on the warranty, breakdowns or failures should be covered in full. However, there are factors that could void the warranty. For instance, driver abuse or incorrect use of the vehicle, or modifications or alterations to the vehicle outside of what is permitted in the owner’s handbook or approved by the manufacturer. Owners are also required to comply with manufacturer-specified service intervals and repairers in order to keep warranties valid.

It is best to read up on what it covers, the terms and conditions, and the actions that make the warranty invalid before leaving the dealer floor. Know what you are in for, to make sure that you are not left out of pocket if an issue arises.

Top-up or extended warranty

A top-up or extended warranty is available to supplement limitations in the factory or manufacturer’s warranty, by covering the costs of repairs, replacement parts and labour for an extended time or distance travelled, as negotiated. For example, a three- or five-year manufacturers’ warranty may have mileage limits on parts covered or may only cover the battery for two years. The top-up warranty will remove these limitations or vastly extend them.

These sold warranties are available at the dealer and are sourced from  warranty companies or insurers. They are typically offered for vehicles up to 15 years old or with less than               300 000km on the clock (but this depends on the particular policy). However, sold warranties are also subject to limitations and exclusions, so it’s best to carefully read the fine print of what is covered.

Taking out an extended warranty when you purchase a used vehicle can help protect you against a range of unexpected costs.

CPA warranty

A further form of protection available when purchasing a new or used vehicle is the warranty offered by the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). This is an implied warranty of quality and is valid for six months.

The CPA overrides the ‘as is’ or ‘voetstoots’ clause, however, vehicles sold on auction fall out of this ambit. The warranty afforded by the CPA puts the onus on the supplier to remedy any breakdowns or failures that arise in the vehicle, unless sold with a specific provision, for example, an old car sold without a warranty on the engine, gearbox or driveshaft. The warranty will take effect and will apply provided the client does not operate the vehicle outside of its intended use.

In the event of a breakdown or failure within the 6-month timeframe and not caused by, or the fault of the client, the client is afforded rights to a repair, replace or refund. If a component repair is selected and within three months the issue occurs again, then the CPA requires that the part is replaced or a refund provided.  

NADA’s advice to the consumer is as soon as your vehicle is giving a problem take it back to the selling dealer where you bought it from and get it seen to. If you’re not getting any joy from the service advisors, ask to speak to the dealer principal within the dealership, because that’s the person who is in charge and should ensure that your problem is resolved. In the case of a franchise dealer, you also have the option to escalate to the manufacturer or importer directly, to resolve the matter.

Alternatively, you can approach the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA). We have consumer complaints specialists employed and we’ll look into it. If we can’t resolve it, it can be escalated to the Motor Industry Ombudsman.

NADA is a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).