Jul 272015

Increasing the age at which vehicles require an MOT from three to four years, as spelled out in the budget, could be a red herring says Warranty Direct. Moving away from the traditional three-year MOT test to a fourth birthday safety check will mean essential maintenance is postponed, while motoring costs could actually increase.

The first MOT failure rate is also set to rocket from the typical 20%, with more components likely to be identified as requiring attention.

David Gerrans, Warranty Direct managing director, said: “Three years of age is generally a landmark age for a car. In most cases, it stops being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and things start going wrong and wearing out.

“Whilst adding another year before an MOT is due is a nod to manufacturer build quality, it could be viewed as detrimental to road safety, as the average driver will need to replace tyres and brakes before the four year mark.

“Extending the deadline for the first MOT of new cars from three to four years, will only encourage motorists to postpone necessary maintenance work for anything up to an extra year, potentially putting the driver and other motorists at risk.”

Apr 242015

pic_story2Research from Halfords shows that where a car-owner lives can reveal how they make their journey, as the retailer uncovers each region’s motoring must-haves. The best-smelling cars can be found in Crawley, where shoppers snap up the most car air fresheners, while those from Shropshire commute in the cleanest cars, with more pressure washers being sold there than anywhere else in the UK.

Irish car-owners travel with the most technology, as Galway residents buy the most Bluetooth enabled gadgets and Cork motorists buy the most car stereos.

Drivers in Norwich know their way around, as the most sat navs are sold in East Anglia, while distraction tactics are key for parents on road trips in Horsham, West Sussex as they buy the most in-car DVD players.

Car-owners in the North lead the way with safety-conscious purchases. Recent changes in the Scottish legal drink-drive limit mean that Glaswegians are snapping up the most ‘morning-after’ breathalyser products, while Geordies are the most safety-conscious drivers in the country purchasing the most dash cams, which are used to record car journeys.

The findings of the most popular motoring buys across the UK also reveals that motorists in the South are the most prepared for MOT season, buying replacement parts in advance to ensure cars pass the annual roadworthiness test. Research found that car bulbs are highly sought-after in Swindon, car batteries are proving popular in Kingston and those from Plymouth purchase the most wiper blades.

Luke Berry, motoring manager for Halfords, says: “Our motoring map shows that how you make your journey varies across the country. While travelling in a clean car is a priority in Shropshire, driving with the latest gadgets is a must-do in Ireland. And making sure your motor is MOT ready is important to Southerners who are well prepared for their travels with bulbs, blades and car batteries proving firm favourites.”

“As registration plates change in March, this month sees a peak in the number of MOT tests. Halfords carries out around 50,000 MOT tests every March at its Autocentres. By having a regular mechanical check-up you should be able to reduce your bills and keep peace of mind.”

Mar 072011

3rd world countryDrivers could be forking out nearly £3 million* every day – or £1 billion a year – to repair cars damaged by Britain’s crumbling roads, according to Potholes.co.uk.

The road maintenance campaign website, set up by the UK’s leading direct car warranty provider, Warranty Direct, is warning that Britain will have “Third World” roads unless something significant is done.

Potholes.co.uk analysed 150,000 of Warranty Direct’s policies over a three-year period and found that nearly six percent of vehicles suffer axle or suspension damage linked to potholes or road defects each year. The average cost of repair stood at £312 but individual bills were as high as £4,000.

Besides the risk of major mechanical failures, motorists could also end up paying out an average of £277* to replace damaged wheels and burst tyres.

Figures for February 2011 show that 39 percent more potholes were reported on potholes.co.uk than in the same month in 2010.

One such motorist, Mrs Hinks, sustained over £4,000 worth of damage to her vehicle after striking a pothole. She said: “It’s shocking how much damage can be done by a pothole, I was lucky not to be hurt. A driver in a less substantial vehicle than my BMW might not have been so lucky.”

Duncan McClure Fisher, of Warranty Direct, said: “Unless something more is done soon, we’ll be faced with a road network that would be more at home in a Third World country.

“Whether it’s the cumulative effect of continuously driving on bad roads or the sudden jolting of a deep pothole which does the harm, our crumbling roads are costing motorists millions.”

McClure Fisher added: “The recent council injection of £100 million will not solve matters. Councils need to wise up and get creative about how to address the problem.

“Back in December, we predicted that a gloomy combination of a very cold winter, huge underfunding and mediocre repairs to roads could potentially lead to the worst ever pothole season – unfortunately our forecast was largely correct.”

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

Mar 052009

Repair BillsExperts are warning of an alarming rise in garages recommending ‘phantom’ repair work to motorists.

Analysis of claims work submitted by customers of the industry’s leading provider of direct consumer warranties, Warranty Direct, over the past six months shows the practice of inflating repair bills with additional work is increasing.

The practice is more common amongst franchised dealers. In one case, a customer was quoted for work that amounted to 2,200 percent more than the actual repairs necessary*.

“It’s a sad state of affairs but some are simply trying it on,” says Duncan McClure Fisher, managing director of Warranty Direct. “We’re finding ourselves policing garages on behalf of our customers.”

Warranty Direct uses independent inspectors to assess quoted work where its engineers have raised suspicions.

In the most extreme case, a Peugeot workshop claimed that a car’s entire fuel system should be replaced at a cost of £2,895.76 after fuel contamination was reported. Following inspection by an independent engineer, it was discovered that only the fuel filter needed replacing at a cost of just £131.71.

The concern for Warranty Direct is simple: the general public do not necessarily have the mechanical knowledge to question quoted work, unless they have access to a qualified second opinion and the protection that a good extended warranty provides.

“Our claims engineers are highly trained and experienced garage workshop mechanics, which is why we’re able to spot unrelated or unnecessary repairs. This won’t be the case for the average owner taking a car in for regular service or a health check,” warns McClure Fisher.  “This is a worrying development and we are releasing our findings not only to protect the motorist but also to allow some unscrupulous garages to get their houses back in order in the interests of the industry as a whole.”

Table showing examples of inflated bills after ‘vehicle health inspections’


Peugeot 406

Volkswagen Golf

Mercedes E Class

Original fault

Fuel filter

Engine warning   light staying on

Differential oil   seal leaking





Additional work   suggested

Replacement of fuel   system

Replacement of   wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes

Replacement of   lower ball joints





Total bill





Other examples highlighted include a Vauxhall garage which claimed that both front shock absorbers, road springs, track control arms and outer ball joints needed replacing on a Signum 1.9TD, at a cost of £720.60.  In fact, only the offside front road spring needed changing, costing £170.58 – less than a quarter of the original bill.

In another case, the replacement of wishbone and anti-roll bar bushes for a customer of a Volkswagen Golf cost £293.44 when the original failure was to investigate a faulty engine warning light. The real bill should have been just £21.92.

The owner of a Mercedes E Class saloon with a differential oil seal leak was informed he needed to replace the lower ball joints adding another £138 to the bill. Inspection proved this was unnecessary.

Last year, Warranty Direct research showed that garage labour rates have increased by 11.3 percent since the summer of 2006, with the most expensive franchised dealers now charging over £200 an hour for their mechanic’s time.

Oct 012007

RenaultDrivers of 04 and 54 plates beware. Almost half of cars leaving the comfort zone of their 3-year manufacturer warranties will suffer some kind of mechanical failure in the next 12 months, according to new research by independent specialist, Warranty Direct.

As September’s batch of new regiatration vehicles hits the UK’s roads, Warranty Direct’s data shows that 46.9%, or around 1.03 million cars*, entering their fourth year will break down during the next year.

The worst offenders on average from 10 of the UK’s most popular car manufacturers studied by Warranty Direct were Renault and Audi, with more than 68% of cars from the French and German giants breaking down in their fourth year.  Prestige marque Mercedes also fared badly, with well over half (57.1%) of its models likely to develop a fault in their fourth year.

“It’s a well-worn joke that items at home, like washing machines, fail the minute they leave the manufacturer guarantee period,” says Duncan McClure Fisher, managing director of Warrnty Direct.  “Clearly, the same is true of our cars if this data is anything to go by.

“The only difference here is that, instead of suffering a problem with an electrical item worth a couple of hundred pounds, you’re facing big repair bills on a product worth many thousands more than a washing machine.”

Warranty Direct analysed the most common faults to occur across the 10 manufacturers, and found that air conditioning units, ignition and fuel systems are the first things motorists can expect to fail once the peace of mind offered by their manufacturer guarantee expires.

Table showing in which year components are most likely to fail


Fuel system 4
Ignition   system 4
Air   conditioning 5
Steering 6
Cooling   system 8
Engine 9
Axle &   Suspension 10
Transmission 10
Braking   system 10


Table showing at what age cars develop the most failures


Mercedes 4
Peugeot 6
Audi 7
Vauxhall 7
Renault 8
Ford 8
Toyota 10
Honda 10
Volkswagen 10


For example, if you have a four-year old Vauxhall, there’s almost a 1 in 7 chance that its engine will suffer a mechanical failure before it gets to its next MoT, necessitating an average £520 payout for repairs.

Owners of relatively new prestige models shouldn’t think they’re safe either – four-year-old cars built by Audi and Mercedes showed a similar chance of developing problems with their fuel system – 13.7% and 13.9% respectively.

On average, the chances of a Ford developing brake failure more than doubles from 4% to 8.6% when it increases in age from four to six years.  Ford air conditioning units are also twice as likely to break down once the vehicle moves into its fifth year.  These failures cause average repair bills of £155 and £330 respectively.

Although Audi owners may have an uneventful first three years of their car’s life, once it reaches four years old the chances of developing axle or suspension failure almost doubles, from 12.9% to 25.6%. By the time it reaches seven years old, there is a 51.4% chance of failure – almost four times the average of the 10 manufacturers examined by Warranty Direct.

At the other end of the scale, only 1 in 10 four-year-old Hondas or Toyotas develop a major problem of any kind, almost four times less than the average. Honda powerplants also stood out, with an incredible 19 out of 20 engines lasting until they were 10 years old.

Overall, 44% of the cars analysed by Warranty Direct suffered some kind of mechanical problem at some point once outside manufacturer cover.

Audi came bottom in Warranty Direct’s list, with 7 in 10 of the German cars suffering some kind of failure within 12 months of leaving its manufacturer guarantee.  Typically trustworthy, Japanese cars had less problems than most between the age of 3 and 10 years, with Honda and Toyota topping the pile.


Table showing chances of a mechanical failure in any given 12-month period for cars aged between 3 and 10


Honda 22%
Toyota 22.3%
BMW 39.9%
Peugeot 39.1%
Volkswagen 39.1%
Mercedes 40.5%
Vauxhall 42.7%
Ford 47%
Renault 67.3%
Audi 70.2%


Andy Bothwell or Paul Rayner at Performance PR on Tel: 0208 541 3434 Email: andyb@performancepr.com

* Calculation based on conservative estimate of 2.2 million new cars sold each year

Warranty Direct analysed 20,500 vehicles, with an average age of 4 years, 5 months for this survey. All data taken from policies and claims dated between 2001 and 2007 for cars aged between 4 years and 10 years old.