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Look Twice at the Fine Print on Your New Car Warranty

If there is one thing we like to emphasise when you’re purchasing a new car, it is to read the contract carefully! Everything you need to know about your agreement will be detailed in the fine print, and as much as it can be an ordeal to trawl through, it’s ultimately in your best interests.

The fact that so many new car buyers avoid reading the fine print of their contract explains why we see one common misconception raise its head time and time again. So what is one of the common issues we see? Well, your new car warranty may have already commenced before you even set foot inside the dealership! Here’s what you should know.



Can the warranty begin before I’ve purchased a new car?

Even though you might be purchasing a brand new car, sometimes it pays to differentiate this in your mind from the fact that you might not be the first owner of the car. It sounds like a hard concept to understand, right?

Think of it this way. In some instances, dealerships will buy stock from the manufacturer. They then hold this stock on their books as an asset they own, held on their site, which ultimately becomes the asset that you own when you sign the contract.

Therefore, while you might be the first owner to take the vehicle out onto the road, that’s not to say you were the first person in possession of the vehicle. The impact of this means that your new car warranty could have already started when the dealer first bought the car.


Warranty and reporting new car sales

Let’s put it into another perspective. New car warranty starts when the vehicle has been declared as sold, not necessarily when you agree to buy it or receive delivery of the vehicle.

This practice ties in with one of the long debated complications associated with new car sales, where for years the industry has been able to report sales based on this approach despite vehicles still sitting on the showroom floor.

It prompted a flood of sales based on milestone targets that dealers were trying to achieve. It meant that the date a car was registered to a motorist was largely irrelevant. However, changes earlier this year have addressed this, clamping down on the matter and resulting in stricter reporting protocols.



How frequently does this occur?

Fortunately, however, in many instances dealers hold stock unregistered until they can find a willing buyer. This means that the new car warranty period has yet to commence and that you are receiving coverage across the period that you might expect.

Ultimately, practices differ from one brand and dealership to the next. The important thing for buyers is that you always follow up on this point. It’s only normal to expect that the warranty will commence on the day you step inside your new car, but this isn’t always practice. To avoid any misunderstandings or complications at a later stage, ask the dealer up front regarding the terms of the warranty and the start date for the policy.

Sometimes it pays to know what to ask, rather than expect you’ll be told everything based on one’s volition.