Nov 302006

potholesEstimated £320m bill for British motorists annually

The condition of British roads may not be getting any worse, but they’re not getting any better either, says a new report.

Analysis by independent automotive warranty provider, Warranty Direct, claims that potholes account for as many as 1 in 5 of all car failures across Scotland, a figure that falls to just over 8 percent of the total in the West Midlands.

Based on the firm’s database of over 60,000 vehicles, suspension and axle damage that can be traced back to poor road surfaces are now the most common failures for a shocking 60 percent of all vehicles.

On average, Warranty Direct reports repair bills of £328.60, but as high as £975.84* in some instances – that’s the equivalent of £320m every year for the British motorist.

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.

Table showing percentage of all suspension & axle failures




Percent of claims recording pothole related suspension   failure



22.82 percent


North East

12.66 percent



12.50 percent


North West

11.57 percent


Greater London

11.03 percent



10.77 percent


East Midlands

9.39 percent


South East

8.33 percent


West Midlands

8.04 percent

The latest ALARM report (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) says that engineers are simply ‘patching up’ roads rather than investing for the long term. It highlights a staggering £1.6bn shortfall in funding which has left them with a 10-year backlog.

Yet, despite the astonishing rates of failure recorded by Warranty Direct, year-on-year, the national average for suspension failures has recorded a marginal fall from 12.43 to 11.38 percent.

“Suspension failure is now a real problem for the motorist,” says Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct. “It seems unfair that the public should be financially penalised once again for choosing to drive on our roads.

Given the thousands of things that can go wrong with a modern car, suspension failure is almost reaching critical levels. Unfortunately, you really do risk the health of your car on certain roads.”

Regionally, the North East of England, at nearly 13 percent, recorded the second largest share of all claims attributable to a road defect or persistent poor conditions.  In Greater London, suspension failures accounts for more than 1 in 10 vehicle failures with more than £16m paid out in insurance claims by the Local Authorities last year alone.

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