Sep 292014

As September draws to a close, thousands of small hatchbacks will be campus-bound for start of the new academic term and for many students heading off to university, it’s also time to enter the world of car ownership.

However, picking the wrong wheels could mean spending Freshers Week on the hard shoulder and eating into the student loan with costly repair bills.

Warranty Direct can assign any car with a Reliability Index (RI) score. This applies a formula to measure overall reliability by looking at rate of failure, average mileage, age and repair cost. The lower the RI number, the better a car is.

Beware though, even small, cheap to run cars can land you with a big, unwanted bill. Warranty Direct has seen single repair costs as high as £1,600 for these vehicles.

Here, Warranty Direct has identified the most reliable cars that are most unlikely to suffer breakdown or max out the student overdraft. Every car here should be practical for ferrying the discerning future scholar with aplomb, too.

1. Honda Jazz (08-)
RI score:
Average repair cost: £202.53
Largest claim seen: £357.51

The second generation of the Honda Jazz continues its predecessor’s reputation for bullet-proof reliability, emerging as the most reliable supermini and the second most reliable car overall in the survey. The five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating may also sway generous parents towards a Honda dealership.

2. Vauxhall Agila (00-08)
RI score: 9
Average repair cost: £74.43
Largest claim seen: £224.69

Vauxhall’s boxy city car from the noughties may have been designed entirely with a ruler, but the Suzuki-derived mechanicals are astonishingly reliable. Repair costs are also well below industry norms, leaving student loans intact should the Agila require any attention besides the inevitable bemused glances.

3. Chevrolet Kalos (05-11)
RI score: 16
Average repair cost: £117.45
Largest claim seen: £177.37

The Chevrolet Kalos put in a strong showing with a low failure rate and wallet-friendly repair costs to match. Though not the most dynamic machine, the Kalos’s generous equipment list combined with a reputation for robust electrics makes it a class contender for the cash-strapped student wanting a dependable runabout.

4. Hyundai Getz (02-09)
RI score: 17
Average repair cost: £159.77
Largest claim seen: £427.90

The small car that showed Hyundai was serious about targeting European buyers is a fine effort and reliability is strong with a very impressive RI score of 17. Repair costs are low and the little Getz is very well equipped with plenty of room for four and the associated clutter that comes with student life.

5. Peugeot 107 (05-14)
RI score: 20
Average repair cost: £295.20
Largest repair seen: £763.88

Peugeot’s outgoing city car still looks funky and impresses with its reliability record. In the rare event that the 107 should go awry the repair costs are higher than many rivals’ at an average of £295.20. However, the 107 compensates for this with a student-friendly group 1 insurance rating and all models fall into the lowest A or B tax bands.

6. Ford Fiesta (08-)
RI score: 22
Average repair cost: £208.15
Largest repair seen: £1,698.85

Ford’s best-selling Fiesta has topped the sales charts consistently in its current incarnation and has been providing the masses with great handling, strong reliability and 5-star safety since its launch in late 2008. The cost of repairing the Fiesta is generally competitive but major faults can be expensive.

7. Citroën C1 (05-14)
RI score: 24
Average repair cost: £280.81
Largest repair seen: £1,030.00

Citroën’s answer to the Peugeot 107 and Toyota Aygo also makes the list. The C1’s RI score means it ranks lower than the 107 but statistics show that the baby Citroën will cost slightly less to repair. The Citroën’s keen pricing and the roster of special editions means students will be able to find a tidy C1 on a shoestring, too.

8. Kia Picanto (04-11)
RI score: 28
Average repair cost: £173.60
Largest repair seen: £724.00

Kia’s eureka moment revolutionised the city car scene back in 2004 with a compact but practical 5-door design and an equipment list to rival cars in the class above. We also know that the Picanto is a dependable choice for students on a budget with strong reliability and an average repair cost of £173.60.

9. Skoda Fabia (07-)
RI score: 31
Average repair cost: £188.07
Largest repair seen: £910.99

For the more pragmatic student, Skoda’s Fabia is a solid choice with proven reliability. A higher average repair cost places the Fabia behind the Picanto, but VW pedigree guarantees a quality feel. The Fabia’s four-star crash test rating is also reassuring, if not class-leading.

10. Mazda 2 (07-)
RI score: 31
Average repair cost: £273.91
Largest repair cost: £755.28

The Mazda 2 is due for replacement soon, but the current model shares its underpinnings with Ford’s latest Fiesta and is proving dependable. Repairs are on the more expensive side but the smallest Mazda inherits the Ford’s strong handling and offers a sharply styled alternative.

Sep 292014

Used cars made by MG*, Rover or Daewoo are most likely to suffer expensive head gasket failure according to new data from Warranty Direct.

While most vehicles are more prone to common electrical mishaps or suspension issues, head gasket failure – every used car buyer’s nightmare – can strike nearly six per cent of some three to 12 year-old vehicles.

Costing an alarming £770 on average to repair, head gasket breakdowns tend to hit after a car is at least three years old.

Vehicles made by Proton, Saab and Fiat are the next most likely to suffer from the glitch feared most by used car buyers.

The head gasket sits between the engine block and cylinder head, effectively sealing the engine to prevent the engine oil and coolant mixing. When it fails, a car will often lose power, overheat or emit white smoke from exhaust.

The head gasket hall of shame

Manufacturer Chance of head gasket failure in one year
MG* 5.61%
ROVER* 4.75%
DAEWOO 2.36%
PROTON 2.04%
SAAB 1.27%
FIAT 1.20%
SUBARU 0.78%

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “Anybody familiar with buying used will know about head gaskets and how costly they can be to repair, I can speak from bitter experience.

“Some cars are almost immune to failures of this sort, while others are quite likely to blow. Bear in mind, too, that all the cars we cover are maintained according to manufacturer guidelines, so the problem could be even more prevalent on cars with patchy history and many former keepers.

“Even though some of the poorest performing brands are now under new ownership or no longer exist in their former guise, there are thousands of these vehicles on the used market.”

At the other end of the scale, the Warranty Direct data shows that less than one in 500 vehicles made by Lexus will suffer a head gasket problem, and less than one in 1,000 Aston Martins are susceptible.

Head gasket failure is a common cause of cars overheating – a problem Warranty Direct covers unlike most products in the marketplace.

Warranty Direct ( is the UK’s leading direct-to-consumer insurer for car, van and bike mechanical and electrical failures.

Sep 262014

GermansWhen it comes to searches on Auto Trader, German brands dominate. Collectively the top four brands accounted for 34.2% of searches on the site. Of these, cars made by BMW and Audi headed the list, making up one in five of all site searches. Volkswagen and Mercedes had a further 15% of search volumes between them.

Most searched for – by brand in August

Top searched car makes August Share
1 BMW 10.3%
2 Audi 9.1%
3 Volkswagen 7.7%
4 Mercedes Benz 7.1%
5 Ford 6.8%
6 Vauxhall 5.0%
7 Toyota 3.8%
8 Land Rover 3.4%
9 Honda 3.2%
10 Nissan 3.1%


“We shouldn’t be surprised that German brands dominate,” commented Nick King, Auto Trader Market Research Director. “There are good reasons why the BMW 3 Series consistently tops the chart, with VW’s Golf and Audi’s A4 not far behind. A combination of premium positioning, quality and regular model updates help keep these models at the front of mind for those looking for a new car – and for those who simply aspire to own a premium new or used car.”

In August, seven out of ten cars in the top ten model list were German. Of the remaining three models two are made in Germany, Ford’s Cologne plant producing right-hand drive Fiestas and the Ford Focus. That leaves the Vauxhall Astra, in ninth place with 2.4% of all searches, as the only British representative. The Astra is made at Ellesmere Port.

Most searched for – by model (new and used) in August

Top searched car models August 2014 Share
1 BMW 3 Series 5.5%
2 Volkswagen Golf 4.5%
3 Audi A4 3.2%
4 Ford Focus 3.2%
5 BMW 5 Series 3.1%
6 Audi A3 2.8%
7 Ford Fiesta 2.8%
8 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2.7%
9 Vauxhall Astra 2.4%
10 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2.2%


Sep 242014

Cost of ClockingThe simple fact is that adjusting the mileage of a used car, often referred to as ‘clocking’, costs the buyer dearly. So the car data checking company HPI joins forces with valuations experts, Glass’s, to reveal just how much money dodgy sellers can con out of buyers.

“Too many used car buyers ignore the threat or just aren’t aware of the risks from fraudsters who use ‘clocking’ to alter a vehicle’s mileage,” says Senior Consumer Services Manager, Shane Teskey. “We’re hoping that by exposing how much money buyers stand to lose, consumers will take greater steps to protect themselves. It’s almost impossible to spot a clocked vehicle just by looking at it, which makes an HPI Check a vital tool for buyers keen to avoid falling foul of fraudsters.”

Andrew Jackson, Head of Analytics at Glass’s, comments, “Clocking is a serious issue – dodgy sellers are making a fast profit at the expense of innocent buyers, but consumers could lose more than just money if they buy a vehicle they don’t realise has been clocked. Tampering with the odometer may lead to safety issues, especially if a vehicle appears as if it doesn’t need a service, when it actually does. The act of clocking could disguise the need for a major mechanical repair, leaving buyers with a hefty bill if something does go wrong.”

Shane Teskey concludes, “We’re working closely with Glass’s to help raise consumer awareness of the threat of clocking. This is a widespread issue, but the HPI Check comes with a mileage check as standard, offering vital peace of mind and protection from clockers.”

The HPI Check includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register as standard, now with over 170 million mileage readings. HPI also confirms whether a vehicle is currently recorded by the police as stolen, 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 Guarantee of up to £30,000 in the event of the information it provides being inaccurate or incomplete, offering added financial peace of mind to used car buyers.

Reg_date Make Model Colour Mileage Glass’s Valuation £ difference % difference
11/02/2011 VW Golf BLUE 45,000  £11,060 £2,190 25%
11/02/2011 VW Golf BLUE 90,000  £8,870
01/02/2011 BMW 5 Series GREY 70,000  £15,960 £2,580 19%
01/02/2011 BMW 5 Series GREY 120,000  £13,380
06/05/2011 Vauxhall Insignia BLACK 45,000  £10,320 £1,950 23%
06/05/2011 Vauxhall Insignia BLACK 90,000  £8,370
31/08/2011 Mercedes C-Class BLACK 45,000  £18,600 £2,240 14%
31/08/2011 Mercedes C-Class BLACK 90,000  £16,360



Sep 222014

Focus WinnerThe Ford Focus 1.6 105 Zetec 5dr has been voted the overall Warranty Direct sponsored What Car? Used Car of the Year for 2014.

The event, which was held at The Hurlingham Club, London and was attended by all major vehicle manufacturers and named 13 outstanding category winners. Warranty Direct helped judge the awards providing insight and reliability statistics, which heavily influenced the voting.

This year’s other winners include the Hyundai 1.2 Comfort (city car), Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec 5dr (small car) and the Lexus IS220d SE (executive car). The Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport scooped the fun car award, while the Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi VTR+ was considered the best MPV. Warranty Direct sponsored What Car? Used Car of the Year Awards 2014 category winners

Category Winning vehicle
Overall winner Ford Focus 1.6 105 Zetec 5dr ’11/11
City car Hyundai i10 1.2 Comfort ’10/10
Small car Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec 5dr ’09/09
Family car Ford Focus 1.6 105 Zetec 5dr ’11/11
Coupé Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI 160 ’09/09
Estate car Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec ’10/10
MPV Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi VTR+ ’10/10
Open-top car BMW 3 Series Convertible 320d SE ’09/09
Small SUV Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta ’10/10
Large SUV Volvo XC90 2.4 D5 SE Lux ’10/60
Executive car Lexus IS220d SE ’10/10
Luxury car Jaguar XJ 3.0D V6 Luxury ’11/11
Fun car Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport ’09/09


What Car? editor Jim Holder said: “The winning cars are all outstanding vehicles, but it is the ownership experience that matters just as much. “As What Car?’s Used Car of the Year, the Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec brings the best balance of performance and equipment for the money – and for only £8000 you can get the current-generation model.”

As well as the What Car? experts, the panel of judges included David Gerrans, managing director of Warranty Direct, “These awards have great credibility and we are delighted that our exhaustive reliability statistics helped the judging panel reach the right decisions.”

The value of the used car market reached a record level of £38.1 billion in 2012, rising from £32.4 billion in 2008. On average, there are around seven million used car sales annually, compared to 2.0 to 2.5 million new car sales.