Jan 312010

potholesAs the temperature rises and the UK’s roads begin to clear following the icy weather*, campaign website Potholes.co.uk has noticed a surge in visitor numbers as record numbers of road users report poor roads across the UK.

Potholes.co.uk, which provides council contact details for people to report potholes as well as detailed advice on how to make a claim for damage caused by them, has already received more reports in January than in the whole of December, while daily visitor numbers have doubled in the past month.**

Many users of the site are describing how they’ve suffered from damaged tyres, wheels and suspension following the icy weather.

“The New Year’s ‘Pothole Season’ is well and truly upon us,” said Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct, which set up Potholes.co.uk in 2007. “We’ve seen a surge in people visiting the site and, sadly, we’re hearing the same stories again and again – people are hitting craters caused by icy conditions and already poor road quality, and they are having to pay out for new wheels and tyres.”

Ice causes potholes by breaking the asphalt apart – water runs into any cracks in a road or path and then expands as freezes, tearing the surface apart.

The ice then melts as the temperature rises above zero in the daytime, before freezing again at night and repeating the “freeze and thaw” process on a daily basis.

“The problem is made worse by the fact that in the UK, our roads are dug up so often. Trenches created by utility companies cause weaknesses that the ice gets into, and many of the pictures posted on the site are from patchwork-like roads,” says McClure Fisher. “Our users are telling us that councils are out there repairing potholes once they’re reported, but they’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Anyone can report a road defect using Potholes.co.uk, which has contact details for councils across England, Scotland and Wales.

Jan 072010

Honda’s CR-VWith the world’s greatest off-road race, the Dakar Rally, getting underway last Friday (Jan 1), Warranty Direct has revealed the most – and least – reliable pre-owned 4×4 and SUV cars on the market.

Audi’s A6 Allroad fared worst, with more than half recording a fault in a typical year. A third of those problems reported were suspension-related.

At the other end of the scale, Honda’s CR-V was revealed as the off-roader least likely to let you down, followed by the Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota’s RAV4. Mitsubishi and Kia make it a clean sweep for Far Eastern manufacturers in the top five.

The Volkswagen Touareg, despite winning the 2009 running of the famously tough Dakar at the hands of South African Giniel de Villiers, didn’t transfer its success to Warranty Direct’s study, finishing fourth from bottom with a quarter of faults down to electrical gremlins.

Warranty Direct’s study used its unique Reliability Index (www.reliabilityindex.co.uk), which takes into account how often vehicles break down, average repair cost and time spent in the garage to calculate its overall reliability. The lower the Reliability Index number, the more reliable the car.

Top 10 4×4/SUVs





Average   Repair Cost

Reliability   Index Rating



CR-V  (01-06)





Grand   Vitara  (98-05)





RAV4  (00-06)





Shogun   (00-07)





Sorento  (03-)





Terrano   II (93-06)




Land   Rover

Freelander  (03-06)





RX300  (03-09)





X-Trail  (01-)





Landcruiser   (03-)




The highest-placed European car is the newer incarnation of perennial 4×4 favourite, Land Rover’s Freelander, which has traditionally fared badly in Warranty Direct’s studies.

Warranty Direct’s Duncan McClure Fisher said: “It’s promising to see improvement from Land Rover’s flagship model, but it’s telling that the bottom 10 is dominated by European cars, and the top of the list populated largely by Japanese vehicles, which still hold sway overall. The biggest surprise must surely be the poor performance of the XC90. It’s not what you’d expect from a manufacturer with Volvo’s reputation, but I’m signing cheques every day on XC90 repairs.”

With an average repair cost of £595.58, the Mitsubishi Shogun (00-07) is the most expensive to fix but thankfully has a low incidence rate, with just under 8% per year suffering a glitch.

Meanwhile, a third of Nissan’s X-Trail problems are down to cooling and heating issues while almost 60% of enforced garage visits for Volvo XC-70 owners are due to suspension breakages.

Bottom 10 4×4/SUVs




Average   Repair Cost

Reliability   Index Rating



A6   Allroad  (00-05)





Touareg  (03-)





X5  (00-)





Cherokee  (01-08)





XC90  (02-)




Land   Rover

Range   Rover  (02-)




Land   Rover

Discovery   (98-04)





M-Class   (98-05)




Land   Rover

Discovery   (04-)





XC70   (00-07)




The analysis is based on Warranty Direct’s database of 150,000 policies on cars between three and eight years old.

Jan 052010

potholed roadMotorists are being warned about the threat of ‘invisible’ potholes after a rise in accidents.

Road maintenance campaign website, Potholes.co.uk, reports an increase in drivers failing to notice water-filled potholes until it was too late – leaving many counting the cost of the damage to their vehicles.

The problem is increased by the combined result of the recent wet and wintry weather conditions and longer hours of darkness during the winter.

“The icy conditions over Christmas and the New Year have created new potholes across the country and motorists need to watch out,” said Duncan McClure Fisher, of Warranty Direct, which set up the Potholes.co.uk site. “Treacherous ice and snow may be at the forefront of drivers’ minds as the main hazard, but potholes are another danger they need to be aware of.”

Potholes.co.uk user, Deborah Hill, from Durham, caused £290 worth of damage when she hit a pothole which had filled with rain water.

Ms Hill said: “The noise was horrendous when I hit the hole, it nearly knocked my teeth out. I had to pull in because the car felt strange. The wheel had gouges round the rim and my local garage revealed that it had knocked the tracking out completely and I had to replace the wheel.”

Experts say there has been a 65 percent rise in defects on English roads alone during the past decade, with the shortfall in funding for repairs running at an estimated £1.6bn*.

Potholes.co.uk was set up by leading automotive warranty provider, Warranty Direct, and revealed this year that the UK’s 30 million motorists pay £1 million a day repairing damage done by potholes, with the average repair bill amounting to £240.

The UK has been lashed by record rainfall, heavy snow and icy weather recently. As the temperature continues to drop below zero, the ‘freeze and thaw’ effect that sees expanding rainwater crack the road will worsen matters further.

Potholes.co.uk offers advice on how to make a compensation claim from local councils should your vehicle be damaged by a pothole and allows drivers to pinpoint pothole blackspots.

For the latest news and advice, or to report a pothole, visit www.potholes.co.uk.

Case Study 1

Simon Smith, an IT Consultant from Glasgow.

Simon was driving along Morven Road in Bearsden one night when his BMW 320D Sport hit a pothole that was filled was water and was not visible. He had a sudden jolt when he hit the pothole and not only damaged his nearside front and rear wheel, but caused him great inconvenience and several hundred pounds.

“It’s an outrage, BMW had to collect the car as it was undriveable and it took three days to get the car back. I couldn’t see the potholes as it was dark and filled with water. East Dunbartonshire Council denied the issue of potholes despite numerous complaints from me and other road users. It is such an unnecessary cost I’ve had to endure.”

Case Study 2

Mick Render, from County Durham

Mick was heading home from work one evening, along the B1628 from Morrison Road Industrial Estate in County Durham and hit a well-hidden pothole that caused considerable damage to his vehicle. His nearside rear wheel was damaged and it was such a jolt it even broke his satnav, throwing it out of its cradle.

“My passenger wheel made such a loud bang and my satnav jumped right off the windscreen, hit my gear lever and broke. It was raining heavily and I just couldn’t see the pothole for the water. I tried my best to find out how to get the pothole fixed so nobody else could be injured or incur damage. Apparently, I gave the council poor information which just wasn’t true; they just didn’t want to accept responsibility for the damage and pay out.”

Case Study 3

Deborah Hill from County Durham

Deborah was travelling along South Road in County Durham when she hit a concealed deep pothole. It was raining very heavily that day, visibility was poor and the road was covered in water. She had just put a brand new set of wheels and tyres on her Astra, which were a present for her birthday. The pothole was just left of the white lines, so even if it had been visible it would have been hard to avoid without swerving.

“The noise was horrendous when I hit the pothole, nearly knocking my teeth out. I had to pull in a little further up the road as my car felt strange to drive. I noticed my wheel had gouges round the polished rim. I had my car checked out by my local garage when I got home which revealed that I had damaged the trackrod, knocking my tracking completely out and damaging my wheel. I had to pay £290 to repair damage that wasn’t even my fault.

“I was told by Durham County Council that my claim was unsuccessful as they were not liable for the damage. I was furious and pursued the claim further only to be told that I should contact Northumbrian Water because the pothole was caused as a result of Balfour Beatty’s repair to the road.

“What a cop out! I pay my council tax and road tax and then I have to foot the bill and get nothing back. I have written to Northumbrian Water and heard nothing to this day; I am just putting it behind me now as it really makes me angry, upset and frustrated that these councils get away with murder. Why should I be out of pocket for something that is not my fault? “