The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against Kia Motors’ seven-year warranty advert.
The ASA found that Kia Motors had breached its code by not giving enough prominence to the 100,000-mile limit on its seven-year warranty and that the advertisements were misleading because they did not highlight the varying periods of cover for different parts such as batteries and air conditioning units.
Kia said it believed the on-screen text was displayed with sufficient prominence and was in line with other manufacturers who included warranty information in their ads.
It also acknowledged that the seven-year warranty did not cover every aspect of the vehicle but said none of the exclusions were mechanical and thereby essential to the continued operation of the car.
It said it had made an effort not to exaggerate the claims for the warranty.
However, the ASA said the mileage limit was not on-screen during the visual and voice-over description of the warranty.
"We subsequently considered that the general impression of the ad, and repeated references to the number seven, was that the warranty would last for seven years regardless of miles driven," said the ASA.
"We considered that the 100,000 mileage limit was a significant condition of the seven year warranty and as such should have appeared in the main section of the ad. We concluded the mileage limit was not displayed with sufficient clarity and prominence and concluded that TV ad (b) was therefore likely to mislead."
The ASA has therefore ruled that the ads should not appear again in their current form.
"We told Kia to ensure that future ads clearly stated that exclusions and restrictions, including the mileage limit, applied to the seven-year warranty."
Kia has now amended the adverts. The TV advert in question has been amended to say "terms and exclusions apply" instead of "terms and conditions apply" and is now on screen for the duration of the advert.
The radio advert in question has been amended to include the 100,000-mile criterion.
No other changes have been made.
Simon Hetherington, Kia's marketing director, said: "We accept the ASA ruling and immediately acted to change the advertisements concerned which were back on air prior to the adjudication being released."
He said the seven-year warranty "remains the best in the industry".
All Kia approved used vehicles are also supplied with a warranty equal to that when they were new. This means that any Kia registered from 1 January 2010 and sold under the approved used vehicle scheme will come with the same seven-year warranty as a new Kia.
Warranty Direct said it brought the challenge to Kia’s advertising in the "interests of accuracy and fairness".
It said the ASA ruling should have far-reaching implications on how manufacturers market warranties and how the public view them.
“It is going to be interesting to see how the others react,” says Duncan McClure Fisher, Warranty Direct managing director.
“I’m intrigued to see how Vauxhall now take the lifetime cover to market – is it for lifetime or for 100,000 miles?”
Other manufacturers to have recently extended their cover include Hyundai (7 years), Toyota (5 years) and Chevrolet (5 years).