Aug 182005

3rd world countryPoor road surfaces continue to account for nearly 1 in 6*1 vehicle failures as the shortfall in annual road maintenance funding hits the £1bn mark*2.

According to a study by independent automotive warranty firm, Warranty Direct, 17.1 percent of reported car failures for the first eight months of 2005 are the result of suspension and axle damage, linked to potholes. The average cost of repair, so far, stands at £276.07 – compared to £185.84 in 2000.

Warranty Direct has recorded a 42 percent increase in the number of claims it handles where the vehicle owner subsequently refers the cost to local authorities for compensation over the past 12 months.

The most recent survey by ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance)*2 revealed increases in claims by road users against local authorities for damage to vehicles due to road structural conditions over the past 10 years of 60 percent in England (exc London), a staggering 187% in Wales and 43% in London. It also revealed a near £1bn shortfall in road maintenance funding for 2004, an increase of almost 50 percent.

Either continuous driving over cracked or uneven road surfaces, or the sudden jolting of a deep pothole, can cause damage to shock absorbers, springs, upper and lower arms and stabiliser bars.

Regionally, Anglia recorded the largest share of all claims attributable to a road defect for one region. At 28.35 percent, it was up by more than half compared to 2004. More than 1 in 5 claims from motorists in the North East and Scotland were the result of poor road conditions.

Greater London crept above the national average to 17.74 percent of failures compared to 13.99 percent in 2004. The rise left the local authority with a £392,000 compensation bill.

Table showing percentage of all suspension and axle failures:

Pos   Region                  Percentage

1.      Anglia                           28.35

2.      Scotland                       21.43

3.      North East                    21.07

4.      Greater London           17.74

5.      East Midlands              16.52

6.      North West                  14.78

7.      South East                  13.60

8.      Wales                          12.56

9.      South West                 12.50

10.     West Midlands           12.47


Warranty Direct managing director Duncan McClure Fisher commented: “It is fast becoming a Catch 22 for the local authorities. Under funding, poor and potentially dangerous road surfaces, and a diversion of much needed finances to deal with the marked increase in compensation claims.

“Last year, our research highlighted the link between poor road conditions and a 47 percent rise in suspension failures over a five year period. Twelve months on, the problem remains and there are no signs that matters will improve in the short-term,” McClure Fisher added.

In 2004, local authorities in England paid out more than £810,000*2 in compensation. Records for Wales show a similar sum of £790,000*2.

Vehicle reliability data is available on

Based on data gathered from millions of pounds worth of claims handled every year by leading independent automotive warranty supplier, Warranty Direct, the Reliability Index provides the car buyer with a valuable insight into the good, bad and ugly of the motoring community.

Visitors to the website are able to examine a host of data including the average cost of repair and length of time it should spend in the garage.

Importantly it also plots the chances of your chosen model suffering from engine meltdown, transmission hiccups, air-conditioning failure and axle or suspension trouble.

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