The latest data from Warranty Direct has revealed the brands whose part problems afflicted UK drivers most frequently last year, and how much the repairs have been setting drivers back.
Analysing statistics from over 40,000 policies and more than £3 million-worth of their most recently authorised claims has shown that when examining the total paid claims against all policies*, well over a third of Alfa Romeo (40%) and Porsche (36%) drivers needed to make a claim, whilst 34% of Land Rovers also suffered from faults.
Below are the 10 manufacturer brands which had the highest percentage of claims made against them and the average cost of repairs. Note – the number of claims was measured as a percentage of the number of policies held per manufacturer:
|Make||% of Total Claims Against Total Number of Policies Held Per Make||Average Authorised Claim|
Alfa Romeos are often considered a true driving enthusiast’s car for their quality of performance and style, but they are known for needing frequent trips to the garage, with suspension, electrical and cooling system problems the most frequent cause for claims in 2016.
Maintenance of Porsches was a considerable expense last year, with a claims rate of 36% across policies though, at an average cost of £1,019.07 per repair. Common claims for Porsche owners included suspension and electrical issues, along with steering faults.
Amongst these results, Mercedes-Benz sitting in fifth place, is particularly significant given the brand’s popularity. In 2015 alone the company sold 145,254 units in the UK, which equated to more than 5% of the market share**. However, an average repair cost of £559.99 is the highest after Porsche and BMW.
When assessing the top five manufacturers on the list’s most frequent reasons for a claim, axle and suspension problems were common, along with electrical problems. Although not one of the most regular faults, gearbox repairs came at significant cost and averaged over £1,250 per repair across these top five brands.
The figures also revealed a trend of Japanese manufacturers overtaking European options as the most reliable vehicles on the market. Honda, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota all had between just 3% and 6% of their policies claimed on throughout the year.
Super-minis and hatchbacks did not receive many claims, largely due to the simplicity of their parts and reduced costs of labour. These included makes such as Smart, Kia, Seat, Ford and Hyundai, all with less than 10% claims being made against their policies. While these vehicle types had fewer claims, a warranty does go some way to covering the unexpected costs for sudden repairs and provides peace of mind to motorists.
Commenting on the latest data, COO of Warranty Direct, Philip Ward, said: “With many cars becoming increasingly more complex in terms of component parts, repair costs will continue to rise throughout 2017. Vehicles which might initially seem reliable and reasonably priced can end up becoming a financial liability for the owner.”
*Includes multiple claims per policy
**Report from Statista – Mercedes-Benz car sales in UK from Jan 14-17.
Electrical gremlins are the faults most likely to provide motorists with an unwanted repair bill just as their car exits the standard three-year manufacturer’s warranty period, according to Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index.
While some car makers offer longer new car warranties, sometimes of up to seven years, most still offer the typical three years’ worth of cover.
Just over a quarter of cars suffer an electrical breakdown in their fourth year on the road, but axle and suspension faults have the sharpest increase between a car’s third and fourth year, jumping up nearly 4% to just over one in five (22%).
Engine failures are the third most likely thing to go wrong as a car comes out of the protective umbrella offered by a three-year manufacturer warranty, with 17% suffering a fault.
Over the last five years, air con and electrical faults are the failures that have consistently increased as soon as a car enters its fourth year.
Data analysed from the 30,000 Warranty Direct policies that were live in 2015 showed that electrical and engine faults are actually more likely in a three-year old car. But the repair bill for an engine failure on a four-year old car is considerably more expensive, at an average of £740.76 as opposed to £692.26 on a three-year old vehicle.
Gearbox faults are the most expensive to fix on a four-year old car, with an average repair bill of £896.22, more than a hundred pounds more than on a three-year old car.
The cost of fixing steering system woes also jumps between a car’s third and fourth years, again by more than £100, to an average of £532.37.
Overall, the average repair cost for a four-year old car is £480.74.
A new study of 3-8 year old cars from Warranty Direct reveals the Mercedes Benz R-Class (06-15) and Saab 9-3 (04-12) are the cars most likely to suffer suspension damage. Hyundai’s Santa Fe (06-12) and the Land Rover Discovery 3 (04-10) have the next most susceptible suspension, with 13.9 and 13.3 percent respectively of Warranty Direct customers claiming for axle & suspension damage annually.
Potholes are typically at their most prevalent on Britain’s underinvested road network between January and April, as heavy rainfall undermines the lower structural layers of roads, creating cracks then more potholes, increasing the likelihood of suspension damage.
The recent Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey revealed that local authorities spent a total of £118.4m filling 2,190,026 potholes across England and Wales in the last year, but also paid out an additional £13.5m in compensation claims.
With the average repair bill for pothole damage now £350, Warranty Direct’s database of 50,000 live policies shows that the most vulnerable cars are more than 15 times worse than the most robust models.
At the opposite end of the scale, the Ford S-Max (06-15) and Nissan Qashqai (07-14) share top billing as the cars least likely to be affected by the UK’s pothole-ridden roads; both boast an impressive clean sheet when it comes to model claims relating to axle & suspension damage.
Top 10 cars with the highest % chance of an annual axle & suspension related claim
|Make||Model Group||Year||% chance of an axle & suspension related claim annually|
|LAND ROVER||DISCOVERY 3||(04-10)||
Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “The variation you see in suspension damage from one model to another is remarkable.”
“Potholes are a major factor in causing axle & suspension failure and any vehicle regularly driven over impaired road surfaces or used for commuting over pothole-strewn routes will ultimately incur damage eventually.
“Components such as bushes, track rod ends, drop links, springs and dampers are all susceptible. Visit our Potholes.co.uk site for detailed advice on how best to make a compensation claim for any vehicle damaged by potholes.”
Increasing the age at which vehicles require an MOT from three to four years, as spelled out in yesterday’s 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.”
Warranty Direct cover starts from as little as £15 a month. For more information on the reliability of your vehicle, visit www.reliabilityindex.com, or for a warranty quote on cover www.warrantydirect.co.uk.