Is it worth buying an extended warranty?

A reader seeks advice about buying an extended warranty for his Audi Q5 as it's approaching its third birthday...

Audi Q5

My Audi Q5 2.0 TDI is rapidly approaching its third birthday. It has covered 17,000 miles and hasn’t had any faults so far, while I still have two pre-paid services to use as part of the original purchase. Historically, I’ve changed cars every three years, but this one is a ‘keeper’ as I near retirement, so I’m wondering if I should buy an extended warranty for it. 

The warranty options offered by Audi all seem expensive compared with some of those offered by specialist warranty companies. What are the important things I need to look out for in an extended warranty, and which level of cover should I consider? Are there any benefits in going with the manufacturer’s plan, as opposed to a third party? 

Jon Gardner

What Car? says…

A decision on buying an extended warranty will largely depend on how risk-averse you are and how long you plan to keep the car. 

Your Q5 has been reliable so far, and the 2008-2017 generation is pretty sturdy, according to the latest What Car? Reliability Survey. Diesel models gained a reliability rating of 96%, with the most common issues being minor electrical niggles, and only 3% had an engine fault. On cars up to six years old, most issues were fixed for free. 

So, buying an extended warranty isn’t necessarily essential for cars of that age. But if you’re planning to keep your Q5 for even longer, an extended warranty will give you peace of mind in case it develops a costly fault. 

The most important things to consider when buying a warranty are the level of cover it provides and whether it’s right for you. Whatever level of cover you choose, it will protect you against the unexpected failure of certain large components, such as the engine. However, basic policies don’t cover the cost of replacing components that have simply worn out. You can choose a policy that includes the cost of wear-and-tear items, or one that provides extras such as breakdown recovery and a hire car while yours is being repaired.

It’s important to check for any exclusions or limitations in the terms and conditions. Some policies will stipulate the car’s maximum annual mileage, where you can have it repaired and whether you have to pay for repairs and reclaim the money or if the provider will pay the garage directly.  

There aren’t any particular benefits in choosing a manufacturer’s extended warranty over a third-party policy. If you do opt for the former, it might stipulate that you must have the car serviced by a main dealer, so you should read the small print regarding this if you’re not planning on sticking with franchised servicing.

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