The wal­let-wal­lop­ing truth is I’ve paid over the odds for a badge on the bon­net

The Herald Magazine - - ETC - DO­MINIC RYAN

OKAY, I put my hands up! I drive a car with the planet-friendly cre­den­tials of the Death Star and the road pres­ence of P Diddy’s corona­tion coach. There re­ally is no de­fence but, if ever I’m asked to jus­tify my over­priced be­he­moth, I like to use a fash­ion anal­ogy.

A pres­tige car, I opine in the man­ner of, I like to think, the late Sir Don­ald Sin­den, is like an ex­pen­sive suit. Its ma­te­rial is of su­pe­rior qual­ity and width, while its lines are cre­ated by ex­quis­ite tai­lor­ing.

More­over, its time­less style and adaman­tine dura­bil­ity mean it can still be about its busi­ness long af­ter polyester ri­vals have grown gar­ishly thread­bare and been re­homed in char­ity shops. It’s delu­sional non­sense, of course. The wal­let-wal­lop­ing truth is not only have I paid over the odds for a badge on the bon­net, but I’m still pay­ing through the nose to keep it on the road and will be for years to come. The ex­tra ex­pense is par­tic­u­larly nos­tril flar­ing when it comes to the ex­tended war­ranty. While it’s un­likely the Bavar­ian born and bred 3-litre V6 will ever blow up, if it did the es­ti­mated cost of a re­place­ment could buy a small is­land off the west coast.

This makes my cover a nec­es­sary evil and is a bur­den shared by many used car own­ers who dare not risk fir­ing up with­out the in­sur­ance a good war­ranty of­fers.

In fact, a new study by provider War­ranty Di­rect backs this up. It says au­tho­rised claims made on four-year-old ve­hi­cles – the age at which many man­u­fac­turer war­ranties will have ex­pired – re­veal sus­pen­sion and axle is­sues are the most com­mon prob­lem, cited in 21 per cent of all claims (this is per­haps not too sur­pris­ing given the un­holy ho­ley state of our roads).

Elec­tri­cal prob­lems ac­count for a fifth of is­sues paid for by war­ranty cover while around one in ten vis­its to au­to­mo­tive A&E in­volve cat­a­strophic fail­ure of the cat­alytic con­verter or cool­ing sys­tem. The most ex­pen­sive ail­ment to treat was gear­box trou­ble, at an eye-wa­ter­ing av­er­age of £974.

Of course, the more ex­pen­sive the car the more ex­pen­sive the parts and labour. Fer­rari own­ers know this only too well, which is why they are pranc­ing with glee around their horses this week af­ter the mar­que launched its New Power15 ex­tended war­ranty, pro­vid­ing cover for its Ital­ian su­per­cars for up to 15 years from reg­is­tra­tion.

In 2014 Fer­rari be­came the first mar­que to al­low ex­tend­ing war­ranty cover for up to 12 years; Power15 is de­signed for Fer­raris in their sixth to twelfth year of own­er­ship and pro­vides cover on all ma­jor com­po­nents.

Alas, I don’t yet own a Fer­rari but last year I still paid an eye-wa­ter­ing £700 for my war­ranty and it’s due for re­newal next week.

The re­minder let­ter of­fers three op­tions, with dif­fer­ent lev­els of cover for my car’s oily bits: sil­ver, gold and plat­inum. Be­yond the £250 price dis­tinc­tion it’s dif­fi­cult to see any real dif­fer­ence in each op­tion. How­ever, af­ter much con­sid­er­a­tion, I’ve de­cided to go for the plat­inum. Why? Be­cause a pres­tige war­ranty is like an ex­pen­sive suit . . .

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