Mar 192014
 

PDFA crackdown on the removal of diesel particulate filters means from last month it will be an instant MOT failure. The Government’s move follows a spate of problems affecting DPFs on cars driving in urban areas. Broken DPFs have caused cars to enter ‘limp mode’ restricting acceleration. This has led some drivers to remove the DPFs. However, you can just clean it.

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “I am very concerned that vehicles are being modified in a way that is clearly detrimental to people’s health and undoes the hard work car manufacturers have taken to improve emissions standards. It has become apparent the government had to intervene to clarify the position on particulate filter removal given the unacceptable negative impact on air quality. This change to the MOT tests makes it clear – if you have this filter removed from your car it will fail the test.”

Cataclean® corporate development director Graham Fraser said it is especially important to take notice of the Government MOT law change as March is traditionally the busiest time of the year for MOTs (see notes to editors 2).

“The key message to motorists is to take care of your DPF,” he said. “Removing the DPF is no longer an option and risks invalidating your car insurance, making your car illegal to drive. Cataclean® can provide a simple low cost solution. Providing it is used before the DPF has broken, and the vehicle is treated with Cataclean® once a quarter, it can prevent the DPF from becoming clogged. Cataclean® does this by cleaning the engine, lowering soot emissions, by up to 60pc, reducing the need for constant regeneration of the DPF.

“We would also emphasize that Cataclean® has other benefits for all diesel, petrol and hybrid cars and vans. It can reduce emissions by protecting your catalytic converter and also improve fuel efficiency and performance.”

Cataclean® comes in an easy to use 475ml bottle designed to pour into a fuel tank. It can be bought for around £16 at all good motor factors including Euro Car Parts, Culmac (in North West region) GSF, Jim Barrow (in North West region), CES (UK) Ltd, Andrew Page as well as Halfords stores and Halfords autocentres.

DPF FACTFILE

Under EU legislation, any diesel motor produced after 2008 should have a DPF fitted as standard. It works as a filter to trap harmful particles and soot, preventing them from escaping and therefore reducing carbon emissions by up to 80%.

Diesel cars most affected by problems are those which spend their time in congested, urban areas. DPFs have a self-cleansing process built into the software of the car, so after a long journey, or on a motorway drive, they are meant to regenerate and re-cleanse. However, if the car spends a lot of time performing short journeys, the DPFs can become clogged because the regeneration process does not have time to initiate. This can lead to cars entering ‘limp home mode’ whereby they will not accelerate very quickly or even become speed restricted.

If a DPF fails it can leave drivers with hefty, four-figure bills for a replacement.

A recent report on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours said fuel companies and motor manufacturers had been compiling details of DPF problems. The UK Petroleum Industry Association and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told the BBC online: “We are aware that motorists in some parts of the UK have experienced incidences of diesel fuel filter blocking problems.  There is no pattern in fuel retail outlet, age, type or brand of vehicle, or the age of the filter affected.  We are actively investigating the situation, through British Standards Institution, to achieve a swift resolution and limit any inconvenience to affected customers.”

The Downstream Fuel Association, which represents organisations throughout the supply chain, from storage to the forecourt, told BBC online it was also involved. It added the investigation was open to all lines of inquiry and it was premature to draw any firm conclusions at this stage.

The Daily Mail reported that the AA says that it is regularly called out to deal with cars with the particulate filter light on – indicating a partial blockage of the filter.

Mar 192014
 

FloodWith floods affecting many areas of the UK over recent weeks, motorists looking to buy a used car should be mindful of checking potential purchases carefully for any potential water damage before parting with their cash.

Tim Naylor, editor of BCA’s annual Used Car Market Report commented “Potentially hundreds if not thousands of cars will have been damaged in the floods and many will have been written off because of the cost of repairing electrical components, interior fittings and catalytic convertors.  Rather than claim against insurance, some unscrupulous sellers may try to pass off their cars in a private sale, so buyers should be aware of the tell-tale signs.”

“Even the most scrupulous clean may not totally eradicate water damage, so be a ‘flood detective’ when appraising a potential purchase.  Screws, bolts and fixings may well rust, so check out-of-the-way areas under the dash, seats, door sills and engine bay.   Look for fine silt deposits in spots like the spare wheel storage area, door handle recesses or footwells.  Are the carpets damp, irregular and ill-fitting or even been replaced?   Are the windows constantly steaming up?  These could be clues the car has sat in deep water.”

He added “Don’t just use your eyes.  Does the car smell musty or damp?  Even if the interior has been cleaned there may be a smell of stagnant water lingering inside and door panels might be warped or even have a faint tide mark.”

While the financial consequences could be considerable, there is a potentially significant danger to life and limb by driving a flood damaged vehicle. Braking systems may be compromised, while an electrical fault in today’s sophisticated engines could leave you stranded at a moment’s notice or – even worse – cause a high speed accident.

Naylor added “As always, if you are thinking of buying privately rather than from a reputable dealer, be sensible and make sure you check over the car fully.  Even better, ask a competent mechanic to examine your potential purchase before making a decision.”

Mar 192014
 

ElectricsIncreasingly complex electronics are making cars more prone to expensive breakdowns, according to automotive specialist, Warranty Direct.

Electrical faults have increased by two thirds (66%) over the last five years, according to the firm’s unique Reliability Index.com and analysis of cars aged over three years. Electrical faults are the most common across all cars on Warranty Direct’s database of 50,000 policies, with almost a quarter (23%) needing a repair every year.

Meanwhile, the average cost of repairing failures caused by electrical gremlins has also increased by nearly a third (32%) over the same period, to £300*, but can rise as high as £2,804.

While relays and alternators are the most likely components to break, newer electronic innovations like parking sensors are typically amongst the many faults reported.

The 10 most reliable brands for electrics 

Position

Make

Avg   Mileage

Avg   Cost

1

Subaru

55,861.15

£450.67

2

Mitsubishi

51,563.56

£479.67

3

Daihatsu

36,766.75

£432.60

4

Suzuki

38,169.82

£243.90

5

Mazda

46,518.44

£411.38

6

Lexus

52,904.78

£411.25

7

Toyota

49,600.09

£376.35

8

Alfa Romeo

51,249.92

£373.60

9

Nissan

48,057.88

£378.08

10

Jeep

51,291.68

£453.87

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “As automotive technology continues to advance, cars get more and more complex. Nowhere is that more so than in the field of computer technology and other electronics.

“But, while these advances can undoubtedly improve the performance and safety of cars, they also have a knock-on effect on how often they fail and how much it costs to repair them.

“Workshops now need advanced diagnostic tools to safely and effectively fix cars and, in some cases, it appears only franchised dealers can access some of the systems on newer cars, meaning that the customer is hit with a higher labour rate bill.”

Among the cars most likely to feature a failure are luxury and premium brands, like Porsche and Bentley, while Japanese brands Subaru, Mitsubishi and Daihatsu have the soundest electronics – only one in seven Subaru models suffer gremlins.

The 10 least reliable brands for electrics (worst to best)

Position

Make

Avg   Mileage

Avg   Cost

1

Renault

47,974.64

£264.33

2

Bentley

37,997.56

£670.24

3

Porsche

41,610.21

£757.24

4

Saab

56,296.36

£323.85

5

MG

38,091.87

£405.25

6

Audi

58,196.01

£511.75

7

Mercedes-Benz

54,059.16

£458.69

8

Citroën

47,864.96

£302.94

9

SEAT

51,195.47

£290.62

10

BMW

57,397.98

£432.89

Overall, Subaru electrics cost an average of £450.67 to fix. At the other end of the scale, Renault is the brand most likely to suffer a fault, with more models suffering a fault each year (38%) but a lower repair cost of £264.33. 

*Five year period studied 2008-2013; Exact average cost for 2013 = £291.50