Warranty and guarantee – where are the differences

If the purchased goods do not function properly, play "Warranty" and "Warranty" a major role. Nevertheless, both terms are often not understood correctly or used synonymously. We explain where the differences lie and what claims consumers have.

Table of Contents

Warranty and guarantee explained in brief

Warranty: What does it mean?

Warranty (also known as liability for defects) refers to the legal consequences and claims of the buyer that arise after the conclusion of a purchase contract, if the seller has delivered defective goods.

In short: The seller is obligated by the purchase contract to deliver the sold item free of defects. Defects that are nevertheless inherent in the goods at the time of purchase must be remedied or the goods must be exchanged.

A material defect is always present if the sold goods do not have the agreed quality. If the quality is not agreed, the goods are defective according to § 434 BGB, if:

In general, the seller’s warranty obligation is valid for 24 months from the date of purchase and includes all defects that are already inherent in the goods at the time of purchase – this is regulated in § 438 of the German Civil Code (BGB). Only in the case of used goods, the warranty period can be shortened by agreement between buyer and seller to 12 months – but it may not be completely excluded.

Attention ABG:

A reduction of the warranty period to 12 months can also be agreed by the general terms and conditions (in short: GTC) of the seller


According to the legal regulations, the seller is liable for all defects that were already present at the time of sale – even if they only become apparent later.

The latter allows the statutory presumption of § 476 BGB

However, if more than 6 months have passed since the purchase, the burden of proof changes and the buyer must prove that the item was already defective at the time of purchase.

If the goods were actually defective at the time of purchase or if at least the presumption of § 476 BGB applies, the buyer has the right to claim damages according to §§ 434, 437 ff. BGB mentioned rights to. Here, however, the so-called supplementary performance (§ 439 BGB

(1) The buyer can demand as supplementary performance at his choice the removal of the defect or the delivery of a defect-free item.

(2) The seller has to bear the expenses necessary for the purpose of subsequent performance, in particular transport, travel, labor and material costs.

(3) The seller can choose the type of supplementary performance chosen by the buyer without prejudice to § 275 para. 2 and 3 refuse if it is possible only at disproportionate cost. In particular, the value of the item in a defect-free condition, the significance of the defect and the question of whether the other type of subsequent performance could be resorted to without significant disadvantages for the buyer must be taken into consideration. In this case, the buyer’s claim is limited to the other type of subsequent performance; the seller’s right to also refuse this under the conditions of sentence 1 remains unaffected.

(4) If the seller delivers a defect-free item for the purpose of subsequent performance, he may demand return of the defective item from the buyer in accordance with §§ 346 to 348.

), for the execution of which both the delivery of a new item and the repair of the defective goods by the seller come into question.

Which kind of the Nacherfullung finally must be furnished, may determine in principle the buyer. However, he may not waive subsequent performance and demand his money back instead without further ado. Finally, he has the right to rescind the contract or claim a reduction in the purchase price or damages only if subsequent performance is impossible or has failed twice or the seller refuses subsequent performance.

Warranty and guarantee - the differences

Warranty and guarantee – the differences

Warranty: What does it mean?

Warranty and guarantee explained

Unlike the warranty, the guarantee represents a promise made voluntarily by the dealer or manufacturer to the condition, durability or functionality of an item. Legally, the warranty is in § 443 BGB

(1) If the seller, manufacturer or other third party in a statement or relevant advertising, which was available before or at the time of conclusion of the purchase contract, in addition to the statutory liability for defects, in particular, the obligation to refund the purchase price, replace the item, repair or provide services in connection with it, if the item does not have the quality or does not meet requirements other than freedom from defects, which are described in the declaration or relevant advertising (warranty), in the event of a warranty claim, the purchaser shall be entitled to the rights under the warranty against the person who gave the warranty (guarantor), without prejudice to the statutory claims.

(2) If the guarantor has given a guarantee that the item will retain a certain quality for a certain period of time (durability guarantee), it shall be presumed that a material defect occurring during its period of validity shall give rise to the rights under the guarantee.

regulated and in principle freely configurable. However, once a guarantee promise has been made, the guarantor (dealer or manufacturer) is also legally bound by it.

Promises of warranty through advertising?

An advertising promise by the dealer or manufacturer can also be considered a warranty promise. This applies at least if the consumer could expect a particularly long shelf life or certain condition of the product for a certain period of time on the basis of advertising statements

Unlike liability for defects, the condition of the goods at the time of purchase does not matter. Ultimately, the sole purpose of a warranty is to promise the functionality or condition of a product for a specified period of time.

Example: The manufacturer guarantees that the coffee machine will function for 24 months under normal use. If the vending machine no longer brews hot beverages after 12 months, it must be replaced or repaired by the manufacturer (depending on the agreement) – regardless of whether the defect existed from the start or arose at a later date.

It should also be noted that the warranty promise may never replace or reduce the statutory warranty. Rather, the warranty always represents an addition or an extension of the statutory claims for defects. In particular, both cases differ, however, in that the warranty obligation is defined by law, while the warranty is a voluntarily made promise.

By the wayWarranty and guarantee often run in parallel, so that the buyer can choose which system to invoke. This is practical if the goods were purchased in the store around the corner, but the additional warranty promise comes from the manufacturer far away locally. In this case, it makes sense to invoke the warranty obligation of the seller on site, instead of sending the goods to the distant warrantor yourself.

Warranty and guarantee: the differences at a glance

Legally required? No Yes
How long valid? By agreement 24 months
Reversal of burden of proof? Not required 6 months from purchase
Who is obliged? Seller or manufacturer Seller

Video: Worth knowing on the subject of exchange

In the following video the topics discussed here are again clearly summarized.

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