May 312018
 

Leading car warranty provider, Warranty Direct analysed its Reliability Index and SMMT data to reveal which of the bestselling UK hatchbacks were most reliable.

The Reliability Index collates and analyses 50,000 live Warranty Direct policies to rate vehicles in order of reliability. As well as finding out the overall reliability of a car, the index offers information on which parts fail most often such as air conditioning, axle & suspension, braking, cooling, electrical components and engines.

Top ten most popular hatchbacks ranked in order of reliability:

Reliability position

Model Popularity position *

1

Volkswagen Polo 6

2

Ford Fiesta 1

3

Ford Focus 3

4

Volkswagen Golf 2

5

Vauxhall Corsa

4

6 Mini Cooper

7

7 Mercedes Benz A-Class

8

8 BMW 1 Series

10

9 Vauxhall Astra

5

10 Audi A3

9

 

Recently plagued by problems owing to the diesel emission scandal, Volkswagen showed it’s still a strong contender in the hatchback market. According to the Reliability Index the Polo and Golf models came in at 1st and 4th place for overall reliability.

While it was only the 6th bestselling hatchback of last year, the Polo actually beat competitors to be crowned the most reliable, spending just 1.46 hours off the road for repairs, which cost an average of just £184.

This is because less than 10% of problems recorded in the Reliability Index for both Polo and Golf models stemmed from more expensive issues such as brakes or gearbox problems.

Following the Polo closely in second place was the Ford Fiesta, which according to SMMT was also the bestselling car of 2017. Low cost and easy to repair faults helped the Fiesta retain its top spot and it needed an average of only 1.51 hours off the road. It narrowly missed out on first position due to slightly higher repair times and costs compared to the Volkswagen Polo.

Coming in a respectable 3rd for reliability is family favourite, the Ford Focus. The average costs of repairs were a little higher though at £283 and so was the average time off the road for repairs at 2.05 hours. This could be down to the model experiencing trickier electrical faults, which made up nearly 30% of all its claims.

In last place for reliability and second to last for popularity, the Audi A3 had a staggering average repair cost of £439, stemming from expensive engine issues, which made up 27% of all claims.

Surprisingly, some of the most expensive, popular models scored more poorly for reliability, with the A-Class in 7th place, the 1 Series in 8th and the A3 rounding out the table in position ten. All took around three hours for the average time off the road for repairs, which may be down to the more complex makeup of these premium vehicles.

The Mercedes A-Class in particular was a good example, as 40% of its claims came from electrical issues, which are common for a growing number of luxury cars, as they contain more parts dependent upon automated technology

Simon Ackers, CEO of Warranty Direct commented on the findings:

“When buying a new car, motorists should look beyond the initial purchase price and examine resources such as the Reliability Index to get a better indication of whether a particular model is suited to their individual needs.

“According to sales, the Polo was only the 6th bestselling hatchback of last year, but it’s actually the most reliable model according to our Reliability Index. In addition to this, the most expensive model may not actually be the most reliable, so it’s always worth doing your research before purchasing your next vehicle.”

*Popularity position based on 2017 SMMT data on the UK’s best-selling vehicles

May 292018
 

As the common saying goes: ‘if it looks too good to be true, it usually is’.

The above can be especially true if you’re buying or selling a car, as there are lots of untrustworthy people out there willing to cheat you for an unfair price.

Making sure you’re armed with the knowledge to spot a potential scam. Warranty Direct discusses common pitfalls for motorists and its top tips on how to avoid them.

 

Selling a car

Offers to buy without viewing

If someone offers to buy your car without looking at it first, this should be considered a warning sign. A buyer may get into an accident or damage the car on purpose, claim it was already damaged when they bought it and expect you to pay for the damages.

To avoid this, make sure you describe your car as accurately as possible when creating your advert and ask the person to sign a ‘sold as seen’ receipt before a sale is agreed.

Swap scam

Swap scams are an increasingly popular con which exploits auction and classified websites where consumers advertise their car for sale. Crooks will contact the seller to express an interest but suggest a swap instead. However, the swap car will often be on existing finance, or sometimes even stolen.

Make sure to research the history of the other car before you exchange and ask to see all documents and service history. A genuine seller will have all of this prepared and be happy to show it to you.

Vehicle matching

Cold callers may approach an owner claiming to have a buyer waiting and ask for an upfront fee which they say is refundable if the car isn’t actually sold.

Typically, the car is never sold and the seller is never refunded, resulting in lost money. If you find yourself in this situation, do not feel pressured into giving your credit or debit card details out to people you don’t know. However, if the worst does happen, contact your bank straight away to see if they can recover your funds and report the incident to Action Fraud which ensures the correct crime reporting procedures are followed.

Buying a car

Virtual vehicle

The ‘virtual vehicle’ scam involves the fake advertisement of a car for sale and the sole purpose is to extract money fraudulently from an eager buyer.

The car will often be advertised for slightly lower than the going rate, with seemingly great mileage for its age. They will ask you to transfer money, sometimes a large deposit, without even seeing the car.

Once parted with the cash, you’ll soon realise it doesn’t exist. So, always make sure you see the car before you buy it and get a receipt. If possible pay on a credit card, so your funds are in part protected should the transaction turn out to be fraudulent, according to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Fake mileage

Changing a car’s mileage to increase value is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Although modern cars are getting harder to modify, the number with mileage discrepancies is on the rise.

2016 research by car history company HPI shows one in 16 cars had an illegally-altered mileage reading which equates to roughly 2.3 million in the UK displaying incorrect mileage.

Be sure to check the vehicle history, as this will show the recorded mileage and highlight any discrepancies. Checking the MOT certificates will also reveal any odd gaps or points where the mileage for one year is lower than the previous.

Fake payment

Always make sure payment is cleared before handing over your car.

Fake customers who seem legitimately interested in buying a car will sometimes pay for it using stolen details, from a credit card or through a fake bank account.

Others may contact you saying they have accidentally overpaid you, ask you to refund the additional sum of money and then withdraw the original payment. You’re then left out of pocket and potentially without a car.

Always be over-cautious when buying or selling a car. Read through all documents, research the history of the car and check the condition thoroughly. The last thing you want is to be conned into buying or selling and end up with nothing at the end of it.

Apr 302018
 

Choosing whether to drive an automatic or manual vehicle is just one of the many important decisions you’ll have to make when buying a new car.

With close to 650,000 new cars with automatic gearboxes registered in Britain in 2016 – a rise of 55% compared to 2013 – automatic gearboxes are catching up with the number of manual vehicles on UK roads.

Many enjoy the feeling of total control a manual gearbox gives but some prefer the easier drive of an automatic.

If you’re undecided, Warranty Direct has explored the advantages and disadvantages of each to help make your decision easier.

What’s the difference?

A manual gearbox requires the driver to physically change the gears as the car slows down or speeds up using the clutch and gear stick. A manual gearbox typically has up to five, six or seven gears to choose from. This is the most commonly found transmission in the UK with 70% of people driving a manual car, according to a survey conducted by the AA in 2016.

An automatic gearbox selects the gear best suited to the speed of the car without any driver input. It does this by selecting from Park, Neutral, Reverse or Drive options using a gear-lever, control knob or buttons.

Growing in popularity across the UK, some car brands now include an option for drivers to swap between automatic and manual transmission for mass appeal.

Cost efficiency

A manual gearbox does have financial advantages. Cars with a manual transmission are generally cheaper to buy and run than their automatic counterparts and the average insurance premium is around 6% lower too.

They’re also generally easier to fix if a problem occurs. This is because automatic vehicles have hundreds of mechanical, hydraulic and electronic parts that must work in harmony to shift gears smoothly. In contrast, manual transmissions are mostly mechanical gears relying on the driver to engage the clutch and shift when needed.

An automatic can cost drivers more money in fuel as they need more power to run. However, this does depend on the model and more efficient and environmentally- friendly automatic gearboxes are being introduced all the time

Ease of use

Some motorists have difficulties managing the hand-foot co-ordination needed to drive manually and argue automatic cars are simpler to use, creating a more relaxing drive. In busy traffic, manual means repetitive gear shifting and use of the clutch can be tiring.

If you have limited mobility and need driving control adaptions (such as a push/pull device to control the speed of your car), an automatic gearbox is essential to enable you to operate these controls with your hands.

Learning to drive

When learning to drive, a large amount of this time is designated to control, with gears and clutch operation in manual transmission being the significant factor. Learning in an automatic eliminates this issue and it’s likely you’ll need fewer lessons to reach test standard in an automatic than in a manual transmission.

However, passing your test in an automatic means you will only have a licence to drive an automatic vehicle. You’ll need to retake your driving test in a manual before you get the green light to drive both types of car.

Conversely, if you learn in a manual and receive your manual driving licence, you can switch to an automatic without having to retake your test.

Automatic driving lessons can also be more expensive as automatic cars use more fuel than a manual equivalent.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re a new or experienced driver; the preference between transmission styles boils down to personal choice. If you’re looking for more control and cost-efficiency, a manual car could be a better option, but if you’re looking for a simpler and smoother drive, an automatic may be the way to go.


Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.

Apr 272018
 

Reliable and well-maintained tyres are one of the most important factors for a safe and comfortable drive, so it’s essential to keep them in good condition.

However, UK motorists were fined £27 million last year because their tyres were below the legal repair level. To help ensure your tyres are up to scratch, Warranty Direct has put together its top tips on tyre maintenance.

Why it’s important

 Illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are the most common vehicle defect contributing to fatal crashes, yet they’re some of the simplest to detect and rectify. As well as being dangerous, motorists could be fined up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each defective tyre.

The grooves in tyres help your car brake, steer and accelerate properly. They also remove water from the contact patch between tyres and the road surface, when driving in wet conditions.

Poor tyre quality has a significant impact on vehicle stopping distances. For example; research found a car travelling at 50mph fitted with tyres with a tread depth of 4.1mm stopped in 24.3m on a wet road.

However, with a tread depth of 1.6mm, the braking distance increased to 32.7m, so tyre quality is essential for keeping stopping distances at a safe range.

 Check your tread

The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and around its entire circumference. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre to ensure the entire surface area is legal.

Tyres also have tread wear indicators moulded into the base of the main grooves. When the tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, the tyre is at the minimum legal limit and should be replaced.

If you are unsure, place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted, your tread is legal. If the outer band of the coin is visible, your tread may be too worn, so head to a garage as soon as you can.

Don’t forget the pressure

Tyre pressure monitoring systems are a legal requirement for all new vehicles, alerting drivers to any changes, which need seeing to. However, they shouldn’t replace physically checking your tyres for faults.

If a tyre is under-inflated by 5 PSI (pounds per square inch) it can reduce its life by around 25%, as it puts more pressure on the edges of the tread, causing deterioration of the casing and faster wear.

Under-inflated tyres can also increase fuel consumption by around 6%, so you’ll be paying for more fuel and harming the environment.

Over-inflated tyres can lead to increased impact damage and concentrate road contact in the centre of the tyre, accelerating wear.

Consider driving style

 Your driving style has a big impact on how quickly tyres deteriorate. Hard braking, fast acceleration and aggressive cornering can reduce tread depth more quickly, so you’ll need to replace tyres more frequently.

Driving at high speeds causes tyres to become hotter, which can lead to increased damage and the risk of tyres burning out while on the road.

The added pressure of a fully loaded car can result in the tread wearing out quicker. Your car’s manual should come with a tyre pressure guide for when carrying a heavy load, so ensure you prepare correctly for these types of journeys.


Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.

 

Apr 132018
 

New research suggests 48 percent of motorists don’t understand what each dashboard warning light means. While the light may signal a minor issue, it could also be something dangerous or cause expensive damage to your vehicle.

Warranty Direct has put together a complete guide to help any car warning light novice to recognise what your car is trying to tell you…

Engine warning light

The engine light could come on for a host of different reasons, from a loose fuel cap to something more serious like a broken catalytic converter, so it can be hard and frustrating for drivers to pin-point the problem.

Head to a garage if the light appears and they will be able to run a diagnostic check to see what’s going on under the hood.

Coolant warning light

The car’s computer constantly monitors the coolant temperature and overall fluid level to ensure correct temperature is maintained. A warning light on the dashboard means the coolant temperature is too hot, so your engine may be overheating.

Pull over safely as soon as possible and turn your car off and let the engine cool down for at least 30 minutes. Using a thick rag, remove the radiator cap to check coolant level. If it’s low, temporarily add water, then get the car checked by a mechanic.

Airbag warning light

If you ignore your Airbag light and you have an accident, but your airbags don’t deploy, it could have devastating consequences. The airbag warning light can also mean there is a seatbelt fault. Without a seatbelt, you’re twice as likely to die in a car crash so don’t ignore the warning!

Brake warning light

Faulty brakes are the second most common cause of an accident and one of the most important car safety features. The brake light could signal many minor or major issues, such as; broken brake lights, ABS sensor malfunction, worn brake pads, low brake fluid or your handbrake is simply left on.

If the light comes on, it’s essential to go to a mechanic straight away to fix any potential problems.

Oil warning light

The oil light may come on for a few different reasons, such as low oil pressure or a low oil level. If your oil light comes on while you are driving, the first thing you should do is safely pull over and turn the vehicle off. Without oil, your engine is not lubricated and may stop at any point. It can also result in expensive engine damage,) so if it lights up, stop and call out a professional.

Tyre pressure monitor warning light

If the tyre pressure monitoring light is illuminated, your tyre pressure is either too high or too low. This could be because your tyres are underinflated, or you could have a puncture. Firstly, manually check tyre pressures with a gauge and add air until it reaches the vehicle manufacturer specification and resets the light. If the pressure drops again, you probably have a puncture and will need to repair or replace the tyre.

Power steering warning light

The power steering warning light will let you know when a fault has been detected with the steering system. With hydraulic power steering systems, you may be low on power steering fluid. If you see this sign light up, pull over and check the fluid level. Top it off with the correct fluid type and the light should turn off.

For electrical power steering systems, try pulling over and restart the engine to ‘reset’ the computer. If the warning light doesn’t turn off after restarting, the issue needs further inspection.

Without power steering, the car will be very hard to manoeuvre so be cautious, avoid motorways, and take it to a garage as soon as possible.

Battery charge warning light

If your battery charge light stays on after turning your engine on, you could have an electrical fault. This could be a damaged alternator, cable, or battery in the engine. If the battery light comes on while driving, this indicates a problem with the alternator. Turn off everything that uses power in the car (except headlights in the dark) and go to a mechanic.

 

Warranty Direct is a trading style of BNP Paribas Cardif Limited. BNP Paribas Cardif Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075.