Jul 302015
 

Cars2A small practical hatchback is all the motor many require. But which is best?

Why Buy?
The Panda is a micro people carrier with an appealing boxy shape that is easy to own and drive with a promise of very small running costs. The Fiesta is part of our motoring fabric. A name that guarantees cheap running costs and delivers a fun driving experience too.

Which models?
The relaunched Fiat Panda from 2004 to 2011 was much larger and more practical than before, even though the boot space is a bit tight. The 2002 onward Fiesta was fun to drive, despite lack of space, and did its job for buyers who wanted predictable running costs.

Are they reliable?
The Fiat Panda has been a great car for Fiat as it has proved to be decently reliable and the Warranty Direct figures support this. The Fiesta is similar, with marginally less repair costs and spending less time off of the road too.

How much do they cost?
The cheapest Pandas are now around £500. Some can be quite scruffy though. Later models are around £4000 and tidy private examples are excellent value. Fiestas hold their value better prices start at £600 rising to £4500.

Sum Up: These are both good small cars which make a lot of sense if you want low running costs and an easy life. The Fiesta is sharper to drive, so may appeal to youngsters, whereas the Panda has a lot of style. Based on Warranty Direct figures the Ford will be cheapest to own.

Fiat Panda
Average Repair Cost: £283.53
Electrical: 19.67*
Axle/Suspension: 34.43%*
Steering: 13.11*
Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average to Good

* failure rate

Ford Fiesta
Average Repair Cost: £257.38
Electrical: 18.44%*
Axle/Suspension: 25.00%*
Gearbox: 12.19%*

Warranty Direct Rating: Above Average to Good

Jul 292015
 

Covertibles
HPI is warning convertible-loving used car buyers looking to bag themselves a bargain this summer, that this type of car is the most likely to be recorded by HPI as having a discrepant mileage reading – which could mean it’s been ‘clocked’ to reduce its true mileage.

“Clocking – otherwise known as illegitimately adjusting a vehicle’s mileage – has been used by fraudsters to boost the sticker price of a vehicle, but the act of clocking also hides the fact that the car is likely to have done considerably more miles than the driver realises,” warns Neil Hodson, Managing Director for HPI. “If vital components are excessively worn and not replaced as recommended by the manufacturer, that vehicle could be a real danger to the driver and other road users.”

Analysis of HPI’s history checks in 2014* also reveals that not only do convertible cars more frequently have a discrepant mileage, but half will have had a personalised number plate transferred to the car, 1 in 5 will have outstanding finance owing against it, and it’s the 3rd most likely type of car to be recorded as an insurance write-off; family cars and super minis are more commonly written off than convertible cars.

“It’s easy to be swept up in the romance of driving along country lanes with the roof down, but used car buyers need to make sure their cash isn’t wasted on a vehicle with something to hide. The majority of people will personalise their car with a cherished or personalised number plate, particularly people driving prestige or desirable cars, such as convertibles, and this is innocent enough. However, be warned, a personal number plate could be hiding the fact it is a stolen or cloned car. If you buy a car with outstanding finance against it, you could face losing the car and the money you paid for it. And the dangers of driving a written off car that hasn’t been professionally repaired and shouldn’t be on the roads doesn’t bear thinking about – particularly convertible cars which have unique safety and mechanical challenges.”

It is crucial that used car buyers searching for a convertible consider the safety aspects of the vehicle. Most models will be built with a pop-up roll bar to protect passengers in the event of an accident. However, those buyers with smaller budgets should make sure they check with the buyer that air bags are included as the less expensive models don’t include airbags as standard – it’s an optional extra.

The HPI Check includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register as standard, now with over 200 million mileage readings. HPI also confirms whether a vehicle is currently recorded as stolen with the police, has outstanding finance against it or has been written-off, making it the best way for consumers to protect themselves from fraudsters looking to make a fast profit. In addition, the HPI Check offers a £30,000 Guarantee* in the event of the information it provides being inaccurate, offering added financial peace of mind to used car buyers.

HPI’s Tips for Buying a Convertible

1. Check the seal
Any type of convertible roof can be liable to leak after a time – even retractable hardtops. Test by spraying water over the roof, looking for any leaks. Aim at the points where the roof hits the windscreen and where glass hits the roof along the sides.

2. Look for tears in the canvas
If the roof is fabric, you should inspect it closely for tears on the canvas.

3. Speak to Local Dealer
To ascertain how much a new roof could cost you so that you know what you are facing should it needs replacing.

4. Check Carpets & Upholstery
Look for signs of mould or dampness on carpets and the upholstery as this could indicate flooding from a leaking roof.

5. Give it a go
Although it may seem obvious, but make sure you test how the retractable roof operates. Test the switch and check that the motor opens and closes the roof smoothly and quietly.

6. Boot Space
Some convertible roofs, particularly retractable hard tops which break down into two or three pieces in the boot, can take up significant space. Make sure you open the boot when the roof is down and be realistic – will it suffice?

7. Garage or Street Parking
Convertibles today are well insulated and all now come with a glass rear window instead of flimsy, scratch-prone plastic windows but still remain more susceptible to break-ins than hardtops so think about where you are going to park the car.

8. Airbags
Check that the vehicle has air bags and that they are in good working order. Air bags are optional in some less expensive models.

9. Mechanical Maladies
A retractable roof can stop working and, as the car is generally more exposed to the elements, the operation of interior parts can be affected. An MOT is not evidence of a car’s condition so it is best get it checked professionally.

10. Check the history
Shiny convertibles aren’t immune from sellers trying to pass off a dodgy car as a bargain, in fact quite the opposite – the allure of buying a convertible can often blind buyers to problems with it. Make sure you check the history with HPI to be certain.

Jul 282015
 

Eco Car Research by Warranty Direct has highlighted the used cars aged three years or older which offer the best combination of reliability and economy, as motorists continue to look for ways to reduce the cost of car ownership.

Manufacturers are continually developing new technology which delivers better fuel consumption and lower emissions, but some more complex machines are still prone to going wrong, forcing owners to foot expensive repair bills.

Warranty Direct analysed its 50,000 live policies, using the Company’s unique Reliability Index (www.reliabilityindex.com) to measure overall reliability by combining rate of failure, average mileage, age and repair cost.

Ranking cars based on fuel economy in this instance, Warranty Direct used its Reliability Index to name the top ten reliable makes and models of three years or more, as well as the optimal engine and trim combination for the best return at the pumps.

Top ten rated eco cars
(A higher Reliability Index rating means the vehicle is less reliable and more expensive to run)

Eco Table

The results revealed that the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic, with an impressive combined MPG figure of 85.6 had the best mix of fuel economy and reliability. The Smart Fortwo was able to match the Fiesta’s MPG figure and is unlikely to let its owners down, though it suffered marginally more mechanical faults than the Ford.

The SEAT Ibiza, Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia put in a strong showing for the Volkswagen Group with closely matched scores, though the Skoda nudged ahead of its stablemates owing to an MPG return of 83.1. However, the frugal SEAT is statistically more reliable.

David Gerrans, Managing Director at Warranty Direct commented: “the ‘eco’ derivatives of a used vehicle are often desirable, promising economical motoring for the cost-conscious buyer.

“However, savings on fuel and road tax can soon be countered with astronomical bills for mechanical or electrical failure. It is important to take these factors into account when selecting a car based on green credentials.”

Jul 272015
 

MOT
Increasing the age at which vehicles require an MOT from three to four years, as spelled out in the budget, could be a red herring says Warranty Direct. Moving away from the traditional three-year MOT test to a fourth birthday safety check will mean essential maintenance is postponed, while motoring costs could actually increase.

The first MOT failure rate is also set to rocket from the typical 20%, with more components likely to be identified as requiring attention.

David Gerrans, Warranty Direct managing director, said: “Three years of age is generally a landmark age for a car. In most cases, it stops being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and things start going wrong and wearing out.

“Whilst adding another year before an MOT is due is a nod to manufacturer build quality, it could be viewed as detrimental to road safety, as the average driver will need to replace tyres and brakes before the four year mark.

“Extending the deadline for the first MOT of new cars from three to four years, will only encourage motorists to postpone necessary maintenance work for anything up to an extra year, potentially putting the driver and other motorists at risk.”

Jul 092015
 

Increasing the age at which vehicles require an MOT from three to four years, as spelled out in yesterday’s budget, could be a red herring says Warranty Direct.

Moving away from the traditional three-year MOT test to a fourth birthday safety check will mean essential maintenance is postponed, while motoring costs could actually increase.

The first MOT failure rate is also set to rocket from the typical 20%, with more components likely to be identified as requiring attention.

David Gerrans, Warranty Direct managing director, said: “Three years of age is generally a landmark age for a car. In most cases, it stops being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and things start going wrong and wearing out.

“Whilst adding another year before an MOT is due is a nod to manufacturer build quality, it could be viewed as detrimental to road safety, as the average driver will need to replace tyres and brakes before the four year mark.

“Extending the deadline for the first MOT of new cars from three to four years, will only encourage motorists to postpone necessary maintenance work for anything up to an extra year, potentially putting the driver and other motorists at risk.”

Warranty Direct cover starts from as little as £15 a month. For more information on the reliability of your vehicle, visit www.reliabilityindex.com, or for a warranty quote on cover www.warrantydirect.co.uk.