Replacing a diesel particulate filter (DPF) could cost more than the value of your car. Here, we look at the potential problems and how to avoid them
Following a raft of changes introduced in May 2018, the MOT test has never been more challenging. Under strict new rules, faults are graded depending on how dangerous they are, and greater emphasis has been placed on diesel car emissions.
It’s as a result of this that MOT emissions test failures have nearly doubled, with almost 745,000 cars failing on emissions, compared to 350,000 in the same period in 2017. Diesel cars have seen the biggest percentage increase here.
According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), nearly 50 per cent of all faults found on MOTs could be avoided by carrying out regular maintenance or by checking some basic items before the test.
Further MOT analysis reveals that around 40 per cent of cars fail their MOT at the first attempt, costing motorists time and money. We can’t guarantee that these simple steps will result in a pass, but they should minimise the chances of a failed MOT.
This one is blindingly obvious, but so many motorists forget to check the lights before the MOT test. Indeed, a surprising 30 per cent of faults found during the MOT test relate to lighting and signalling.
Make sure you check all of the lights – headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights and indicators – and be sure to include the brake lights in your inspection. Either ask a friend to press the brake pedal, or reverse up to a reflective surface. Make sure the high-level brake light is functioning correctly.
Number plates (also known as licence plates) must show the car’s registration number correctly. You could be fined up to £1,000 and your car will fail its MOT if you drive with incorrectly spaced letters or numbers.
The number plates will also be inspected for condition, secure attachment and colour. Give yourself plenty of time to order a new set of plates – you can only order from a registered number plate supplier. You will need to prove your identity and show that you’re entitled to the registration number.
Wheels and tyres
Firstly, check that the wheels and tyres are undamaged – you can do this yourself or at a local tyre fitter. The minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, and anything less than this will be marked as a ‘fail’.
However, we’d recommend changing the tyres when the tread reaches 3mm. While spare wheels and tyres are not inspected, it’s worth noting that cars first used on or after 1 January 2012 will be checked to make sure the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is working.
Note: 10 per cent of all MOT faults are related to tyres.
Seats and seatbelts
Check that the driver’s seat can be adjusted and that all seats are securely fitted. It’s essential that the seatbacks can be fixed in the upright position.
While you’re there, check the entire length of the seatbelt for damage and pull on them sharply to ensure that they react appropriately.
Take a look at the windscreen to ensure that there are no cracks or damage to the glass. Any damage larger than 40mm will result in a ‘fail’, as will any chips or damage wider than 10mm in the area swept by the wipers.
On the subject of wipers, make sure they are able to clear the windscreen of rain. If it’s not raining, use a watering can or a hose. The wiper blades should be free of damage or tears – it’s likely to be cheaper to buy a set of new blades in advance rather than relying on a distress purchase at the MOT test centre.
Note: 8.5 per cent of all MOT faults are related to ‘Driver’s view of the road’. So, if you have stickers, toys or air-fresheners obstructing your view, remove them before the test.
Your car could fail its MOT for having no screenwash, so make sure the washer bottle is topped up in advance. You’ll also be turned away from the MOT test centre if the vehicle has insufficient engine oil or fuel. The MOT tester will also check the power steering oil.
Again, it’s a simple one to check, but when was the last time you used your horn? Make sure it works and is the suitable horn for the vehicle.
If your car’s dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree you could be in for a rough ride at the MOT testing station. A failed main beam warning light will result in a fail, as will the ABS light, engine warning light, brake fluid light and airbag warning light. Get all dashboard lights checked out in advance.
Suspension and brakes
One in 10 of all MOT fails are related to brake issues, and you can minimise the risk by testing the brakes every day. If you hear any strange noises or the car pulls to one side, consult a garage.
Similarly, the MOT tester will check the suspension, so press down on each front wing to check for worn shock absorbers. If the car ‘bounces’ up and down rather than returning to the correct position, they may be worn. Also, listen out for knocking noises.
These simple checks should only take a few minutes, but it’ll be more hassle arranging for any repair work to be carried out or booking a re-test. For a full list of the car parts checked during the MOT test, visit the government website.
Remember, an MOT test isn’t the same as having your car serviced and doesn’t provide an accurate description of the vehicle’s general mechanical condition. Regular service and maintenance will almost certainly improve your chances of an MOT pass and fewer advisories.
Every year, JD Power publishes its Customer Service Index Study, which asks drivers about their experiences with dealers during the first three years of car ownership. Each brand is given a rating out of 1,000 for overall satisfaction. Join us as we count down all 24 carmakers in the 2018 survey – from worst to best – and reveal their scores.
24. Citroen: 764
The study measures customer satisfaction with service experience at a franchised dealer facility for maintenance and repair work. JD Power uses five measures, listed in order of importance: service quality, service initiation, service advisor, vehicle pick-up and service facility. You won’t be surprised to find a French manufacturer propping up the table.
=22. Renault: 766
And, predictably, there’s another French brand in the number 23 slot. JD Power spoke to 7,899 motorists who registered their new vehicle between February 2015 and April 2017. Sorry, Renault, but this is one to file under ‘could do better’.
=22. Nissan: 766
Not that Nissan can rest on its (Datsun) laurels. The Qashqai might be Britain’s best-loved crossover, but Nissan owners have failed to connect with the dealers. Swipe left if you agree with the JD Power study.
21. Ford: 767
Josh Halliburton, vice president and head of European operations at JD Power, said: “These results illustrate the importance of developing passionate advocates, not only for the product but also for the dealership itself, when trying to attract younger people as new customers,” This is a reference to the fact that young customers are less likely than older customers to be loyal to a dealer.
20. Skoda: 771
This might come as a surprise, not least because Skoda prides itself on delivering good customer satisfaction. It will need to up its game if it wants to attract – and retain – new customers to its expanding range of crossovers and SUVs.
19. Peugeot: 774
If there’s one crumb of comfort for Peugeot, it’s the fact that it’s the highest ranked French manufacturer. According to JD Power, vehicle pick-up satisfaction is 15 points higher among customers who handled payments with their customer service advisor than among those who dealt with a cashier.
18. Seat: 777
Next up is Seat, which scores six points more than its Volkswagen Group sibling, Skoda. Czech, mate.
17. Volkswagen: 779
The industry average for volume manufacturers is 779, which must leave Volkswagen feeling decidedly average. Vanilla. Mediocre. Straight down the middle. Par for the course.
=15. Mazda: 780
Back in 2016, we were surprised to find Mazda at the foot of the table. While finishing 15th suggests there’s still work to be done, the Japanese company will be delighted to have escaped the relegation dogfight. It’s not time to call in Sam Allardyce just yet.
=15. Hyundai: 780
Tied with Mazda is Hyundai, which offers a range of great value cars and a comprehensive five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. The new i30 N hot hatch is proof that it’s not afraid to let its hair down once in a while.
14. Toyota: 784
The same can be said of Toyota, which has gone bonkers with the crazy Yaris GRMN. A 14th place finish is surprising, as the Japanese giant tends to finish closer to the top in satisfaction surveys.
13. Fiat: 785
Fiat is so pleased with its 13th place finish, it has issued a press release. Sebastiano Fedrigo, MOPAR service, parts and customer care director at FCA said: “We have made a considerable investment in training, genuine parts distribution and new aftersales programmes which has helped Fiat to improve customer satisfaction. We are supporting our network with more efficient parts delivery service to increase availability of Mopar genuine parts, which will not only reduce off-the-road time but also increase the longevity and value of our customer’s cars.”
=11. Vauxhall: 786
Vauxhall hasn’t issued a press release to celebrate finishing joint 11th, but the people of Luton will be glowing with pride once they discover the name of the other brand to score 786 points.
=11. BMW: 786
That’s right, Vauxhall dealers are on a par with BMW dealers when it comes to customer satisfaction. You’re unlikely to see a press release from Bavaria, not least because this puts BMW at the bottom of the premium brand table.
10. Suzuki: 791
Suzuki finishes 10th overall and fifth on the list of volume manufacturers. We rather like Suzuki’s range of value-driven cars, and it would appear that you are a fan of its dealers.
=7. Dacia: 792
In a victory for rational common sense and fit-for-purpose motoring, Dacia finishes seventh overall and fourth on the list of volume brands. The budget brand has just released the prices of the all-new Duster, which start at £9,995.
=7. Jaguar: 792
There’s a three-way tie for seventh, with Jaguar joining Dacia on 792 points. The big news this summer is the arrival of the I-Pace electric car. Our verdict: “Jaguar has delivered the car all the others now have to beat. And it’s set an impressively high bar to battle over. Such is the all-round ability of the Jaguar I-Pace; prepare to start seeing a lot of them out and about, and rightly so.”
=7. Audi: 792
Audi is the third manufacturer to finish with 792 points, placing it below the premium brand average of 798. A decent score, but there are three volume manufacturers further up the table.
6. Mercedes-Benz: 805
Mercedes-Benz finishes third on the list of premium brands and sixth overall. Stay tuned for our first drive review of the new A-Class (pictured).
=4. Kia: 808
There are two manufacturers tied on 808 points, with Kia maintaining its reputation as the automotive equivalent of a teacher’s pet. With such excellent dealers and a seven-year warranty, it’s not hard to see why Kia owners are so satisfied.
=4. Volvo: 808
Volvo is the brand that can do no wrong, scooping awards left, right and centre. A score of 808 points will put the Swedish brand in a state of happiness.
3. Honda: 815
Hoorah for Honda, which ranks second on the list of volume manufacturers and third overall. If one vehicle could sum up ‘car reliability’, it would be the Honda Jazz.
2. Mini: 822
Mini might take issue with JD Power’s decision to include it on the list of volume manufacturers, but it will be delighted with the overall result. Can you guess which manufacturer pipped it to the post?
1. Land Rover: 824
Blimey, it’s Land Rover, which ranks highest among premium brands for a second consecutive year. Take a bow, Land Rover dealers, and feel free to take the rest of the day off. Just check with your manager, first.
As cars get increasingly complicated, narrowing down what’s caused a warning light to illuminate can be tricky. Although you might need to connect a diagnostics tool for a more detailed diagnosis, this guide should you give an indication of what your car’s trying to tell you.
Generally, car warning lights can be split into three colours: red for ‘bad’ problems, orange for advice and blue and green for everything else. We’ll deal with the red issues first…
A red warning light in the shape of a square car battery showing positive and negative terminals indicates an issue with charging the battery. This could be a problem with the battery itself, or the alternator or alternator belt.
A brake warning light could be triggered by something as simple as the handbrake being on. If it doesn’t turn off when you disengage the handbrake, check the brake fluid level or get a professional to look into it.
Low oil pressure
A light which looks like an oil can signifies low oil pressure. You should not drive with this light illuminated as it could cause damage to the engine. Turn the engine off and check the oil level – it may need topping up. Seek assistance if the light remains lit.
A light showing a person sitting with a seat belt across their chest is warning you that someone in the car is not wearing their seat belt. If you don’t wear a seat belt and you haven’t got a valid reason why, you could be hit with a £100 on-the-spot fine. The driver is also responsible for any children aged 14 or under not wearing their seat belt.
Although you should keep an eye on your car’s temperature gauge to identify any issues with its cooling system, some cars have a temperature warning light for when it gets hot. This looks like a thermometer with wavy lines. Like the oil pressure warning light, you should stop and turn off the car’s engine to prevent further damage.
We’re now moving onto orange or yellow lights, which signify advice rather than urgent issues. A shortage of washer fluid can trigger a warning light on some cars. Simply top up the washer fluid reservoir to turn the light off.
Occasionally you might see this light appear for a brief moment while driving. Most likely to appear in slippery or wet conditions, the traction or stability control light means the car is having to brake a wheel or cut power to prevent wheelspin. Driving more cautiously with the conditions in mind will prevent it appearing again.
The ABS light is likely to come on during hard braking. This is when the anti-lock braking system is triggered. Essentially, during heavy braking the system will modulate the brakes to prevent the wheels locking up and causing a skid. Like traction control, if this kicks in while driving, adapt your driving to prevent it.
The engine management or ‘check engine’ light could mean a wide range of things from an open fuel filler cap to a serious engine problem. You’ll need to plug a diagnostics reader into your car to establish exactly what the issue is.
If your car is fitted with lane assist to nudge you back into lane if your car starts to drift on the motorway, a light might display to show it’s enabled.
If your car is fitted with cruise control, a light showing a car’s speedo with an arrow pointing at it might display when the system is turned on.
If you drive a diesel car, a glow plug light might display when you’re first turning it on. This means the glow plugs are warming up and the ignition shouldn’t be turned on until the light goes out. If the light flashes, it suggests a problem with the glow plugs.
Some cars will display a warning light when they detect a failed bulb in one of the car’s lights. Replace the bulb to extinguish the light.
A light showing a person with a circle in front of them suggests there’s a fault with one of the car’s airbags. Investigate it as soon as convenient.
If you drive a modern diesel car, it might display a DPF light when the diesel particulate filter becomes blocked. This is most likely to happen if you do lots of short journeys at low speeds. Allow it to regenerate by driving on a long motorway journey.
When you turn your indicators or hazard lights on, left or right arrows will display on the dash to show which way you’re indicating.
When you’ve got main beam engaged for driving in the dark, a blue light like the one in the picture above will display on your dash. You should make sure you dip your headlights when there are other cars about to prevent oncoming drivers being blinded.
A curved ‘D’ shape next to wavy lines will indicate that your front or rear fog lights are turned on. These should only be used when visibility drops below 100 metres.
An exclamation mark below a curved arrow relates to the car’s stop/start system. Depending on the car it could mean that the system is turned on, allowing the engine to turn off when the car’s stopped to save fuel, or turned off. It could also mean there’s an issue with it – consult your owner’s manual.
The current MOT system is to be scrapped from May 2018 – with a new, more challenging test taking its place.
From 20 May, all cars being put forward for their annual test of roadworthiness will be examined under strict new rules. These will see faults graded depending on how dangerous they are, and greater emphasis placed on diesel car emissions.
Currently, all cars on UK roads between three- and 40-years-old must be MOTed annually by an approved garage. Any major faults will result in a fail: these include things like tyres below the minimum tread depth, or CO2 emissions above a certain level.
Other faults, classed as ‘advisories’ include things like worn tyres (but not below the 1.6mm minimum tread depth) or rust that doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the vehicle. The idea is that car owners should consider fixing these issues – especially as they may get worse over time – but they don’t prevent the vehicle being roadworthy at the time of the test.
The new rules essentially rename ‘advisories’ as ‘minor faults’. They work in the same manner – issues that they owner needs to be aware of, but things the tester has no qualms over allowing the car’s owner to drive away with.
However, other faults will now be split between ‘dangerous’ and ‘major’ faults. The former will include things that make the car dangerous to drive away from the garage – even if it’s to be repaired or if the existing MOT is still valid. Major faults, meanwhile, will trigger an MOT fail but won’t be flagged up as dangerous.
The changes, which are being brought in to meet a new EU directive, have attracted criticism from motoring organisation the RAC.
“While on the surface this change seems like a sensible move, we fear many motorists could end up being confused by the new categories which give an indication as to the seriousness of vehicle defects identified in an MOT test,” said RAC spokesman Simon Williams.
“Rather than MOT failures simply being black and white, the new system creates the potential for confusion as testers will have to make a judgement as to whether faults are ‘Dangerous’, ‘Major’ or ‘Minor’. This will surely be open to interpretation which may lead to greater inconsistency from one test centre to another.
“Motorists may also struggle to understand the difference between ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Major’ failures. The current system ensures that any vehicle with a fault that doesn’t meet the MOT requirements is repaired appropriately before being allowed back on the road.”
There will also be new rules for diesel cars which could make it more difficult to pass the MOT test. Vehicles emitting ‘visible smoke of any colour’ will be issued with a major fault and therefore an instant fail, while cars with diesel particulate filters that have been removed or tampered with will also fail. That’s unless the owner can prove that amendments have been made to clean the filter.
Buy a new car and it’s likely to come with a three-year warranty, but many manufacturers will offer extended warranties for an additional premium. Alternatively, some new cars will be covered for five or even seven years, providing peace of mind until as late as 2025. But what do you do when the warranty expires?
You’re faced with three choices: sell the car, chance your arm, or opt for an aftermarket warranty. Typically, you’ll pay anything from £100 to £500 a year, but in return you’ll be covered in the event of the failure of mechanical or electrical parts. Warrantywise has just released details of the top 10 car repair bills it paid in 2017, and the costs will send shockwaves through your wallet. All photos used are for illustrative purposes only.
10: Audi TT engine (£5,084)
It’s worth pointing out that not all aftermarket car warranties are created equal. There are a number of different options out there, offering various levels of protection. Many will cover the major mechanical and electrical parts, but others might include protection against MOT failure and multimedia malfunction. In 2017, Warrantywise paid just over £5,000 when an engine failed on an Audi TT.
9: Mercedes-Benz C-Class sensors (£5,134)
A similar figure was paid out for failure of the sensors on a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. We took a look on the Warrantywise website, where we were quoted £2,000 for a three-year warranty on a 2014 Mercedes-Benz C220. This includes a garage labour rate of up to £35 an hour and a single repair limit of £5,000. Increase these rates, and add the likes of multimedia, MOT and emissions cover to the package, and the cost will increase.
8: Porsche Cayenne oil leak (£5,494.38)
Even something that appears to be a relatively minor issue can cost an arm and a leg to repair, like the £5,500 it cost to repair the oil leak on a Porsche Cayenne. If this doesn’t encourage you to investigate the cause of that puddle on your driveway, nothing will.
7. Ferrari 599 gearbox (£5,745.22)
You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari 599 expecting to see running costs on a par with a Ford Fiesta, but finding £5,745 at the drop of a hat would be a stretch for most people. The Warrantywise website features a handy tool which provides an insight into the items most likely to go wrong on each car. The Ferrari dropdown menu includes everything from a 575M F1 gearbox (£6,161.21) to a 430 sensor (£2,171.09).
6. Lamborghini Aventador clutch (£5,954.02)
But it’s important to stress that big bills aren’t the preserve of exotic supercars. Warrantywise paid an eye-watering £453.29 for a brake caliper for a Daewoo Kalos and £431.10 on a heater matrix for a Daewoo Tacuma. A latch on a Proton GEN-2 cost £320.03, while a new engine on a Kia Sorento weighed in at £2,950. Not quite Aventador clutch money, but in relative terms it’s quite a chunk.
5. Maybach 62S brakes (£6,110.94)
The Maybach 62S is a lumbering beast of car, so you need to ensure the brakes are up to scratch. Spending £6,110 on the braking system should ensure the anchors are fit for purpose. Speaking of luxury motors, we took at look at Rolls-Royce, and discovered that Warrantywise has paid out for repair bills of up to £3,619.74 on the Phantom.
4. Dodge Journey gearbox (£6,262.54)
Yes, somebody in the UK actually bought a Dodge Journey, and when the gearbox went, they probably wish they hadn’t. Fortunately for them, Warrantywise covered the cost, which came in at a staggering £6,262. There are many faults listed under the heading of ‘Dodge’, so a warranty is likely to be a good move.
3. Nissan GT-R gearbox (£6,271.38)
On this evidence, the Nissan GT-R is a supercar-tamer with supercar-rivalling costs, should things go wrong. In addition to the £6,271 paid out in 2017, Warrantywise has previously forked out £9,500 and £6,187 for two separate gearboxes, and £4,890 for various engine faults.
2. Land Rover Discovery 4 engine (£8,527.80)
The Warrantywise website makes for grim reading for anyone who has recently purchased a used Land Rover. The Range Rover Sport looks particularly troublesome, with the table filled with bills upwards of £2,200. But each one is dwarfed by the £8,527.80 claim for a new Discovery 4 engine in 2017. Ouch.
1. McLaren MP4-12C gearbox (£10,000)
Imagine being faced with the prospect of a new gearbox on a McLaren MP4-12C. We suspect that the round figure is based on the upper limit of the warranty cover, which would suggest that the final bill was even higher. MP4-12C owners might want to wrap their seven-speed dual clutch gearbox in cotton wool.
I’m sitting in a £60,000 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, with an imposing twin-axle horse trailer attached to the tow bar. Facing me, on a narrow muddy track, is an identical E-Class All-Terrain with a matching horse trailer. The only good news is that our trailers don’t contain real horses, just ballast to replicate their weight. One of us needs to move to sort the gridlock.
I try to reverse, and the horse box decides it doesn’t want to play ball. No amount of steering wheel-twirling, or the calm reassurance of Dave the instructor, is going to fix this.
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Instead, Dave suggests we tackle the daunting track to our left, climbing up a hill and with trees lining the deeply-rutted route.
This turns out to be less intimidating than it might sound. The E-Class All-Terrain isn’t fazed by the slippery hill, despite the trailer and hefty imitation pony inside it, and hauls itself up with ease. It’s the same coming back down, with the E-Class surefooted despite the weight pushing behind it.
The Mercedes certainly helped flatter my abilities, with a host of cameras and sensors making towing far easier. Having a qualified instructor alongside was perhaps the biggest advantage, saving us and the hypothetical horse from any danger.
First-time dramatics aside, towing doesn’t need to be difficult or challenging, and offers up a range of options. Be it holidaying with a caravan, moving horses around, or even lugging a race car to the track, there are plenty of reasons to start to tow.
Before you think about hitching up something extra to the rear of your car, there are a few things to consider first. Nobody likes a baptism of fire, especially when it might actually involve your own expensive trailer or caravan.
Possibly the most important thing to check before towing is your driving licence, with a range of restrictions based on when you passed your driving test.
For those who gained their licence before the 1st January 1997, a Category B licence will entitle you to tow any combination of car and trailer/caravan up to a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 8,250kg.
Obtaining a licence after the 1st January 1997 restricts drivers to a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg, towing a trailer of up to 750kg. Drivers can also tow a trailer or caravan in excess of 750kg, providing the overall MAM of the combined outfit does not exceed 3,500kg, or have the trailer weigh more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.
To tow anything above these weights will require taking additional driving tests, with the GOV.UK website having more information, along with guidance on how to determine the relevant vehicle weights.
Regardless of what it says on your driving licence, investing in a training course designed to teach the basics of towing is money well spent.
Both the Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club offer bespoke courses, tailored to varying levels of caravanning experience. These cover the basics of health and safety, along with lessons in the art of reversing with a caravan attached.
If you’re looking to tow a trailer, the National Trailer and Towing Association will be able to help you find local driving schools offering lessons and coaching.
Going fast with a hefty caravan attached to the back of your car might be the least of your concerns, but powerful modern machinery can making towing seem relatively effortless.
As such, it’s important to remember that when towing a maximum speed limit of 60mph applies on dual carriageways and motorways, with 50mph on single carriageway routes. Towing also prevents you from using the furthest right-hand lane of a three-lane motorway.
Try to be courteous to other road users if you develop a queue of traffic behind while towing. Finding a safe place to pull over and let others pass is good practice.
Distilling the best car to tow with requires considering a number of different factors. From matching the permitted towing weight with your intended caravan or trailer, to ensuring that it’ll have enough power and torque to enable the whole outfit to move at a reasonable pace.
Diesel-engined 4×4 SUVs have become the preferred choice for caravanning in recent years, matching sizeable towing capacity with the ability to escape from a muddy campsite. It might explain why SUVs took almost every prize in the latest Towcar of the Year Awards, with the Skoda Kodiaq taking the top prize.
If you’re concerned about buying a diesel, however, there are alternative options. Both the plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and electric Tesla Model X are capable of towing a caravan.
Buying a car with a reversing camera, especially one with bespoke modes for helping hitch a trailer, may also influence your decision making. A number of manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and Land Rover, also offer ‘Trailer Assist’ features that use semi-autonomous tech to make reversing easier.
Adding a tow bar
With so much technology loaded into modern cars, adding a tow bar is not a simple case of bolting on the first one you find. There is also legislation to take into account at present if you own a vehicle registered after the 1st August 1998, which must use an EC type-approved tow bar.
Most car manufacturers offer tow bars to fit their own specific models, and can even offer factory-fitted versions if ordering a car from new. Retractable or removable tow bars are popular, leaving a neater appearance to the rear of the car when not being used. A wealth of aftermarket suppliers also exist for those wanting to avoid dealership pricing.
Security and insurance
Thefts of trailers, particularly in rural areas, are endemic and often combined with the theft of plant and construction machinery. The fact they can be easily attached to the back of a car and driven away makes them an easy target. Caravans are also desirable, with estimates suggesting up to 3,000 are stolen every year in the UK.
All new caravans produced since 1992 have been registered with the CRiS database, making it easier to track and trace them if stolen. RFID tags are also used to allow easier identification by the police, even if criminals alter visible chassis numbers.
Heavy-duty wheel clamps, hitchlocks, and anchor posts can all be used to make it harder to steal your caravan or trailer. Just like with a car, alarms and tracking devices can also be fitted.
Most importantly, don’t forget to insure your trailer or caravan, even though it is not a legal requirement. Cover is recommended for protection should your latest purchase be stolen, or damaged whilst being towed. Most car policies do not automatically cover either trailers or caravans when being towed, or will have restrictions on cover. Check with your insurer, or speak to a specialist broker.
Buy a Japanese or Korean car to remove the stress of servicing, is the message from the What Car? Servicing and Satisfaction Survey. The car-buying brand asked more than 8,300 UK motorists about their most recent car service, with each respondent scoring their dealer on politeness of staff, quality of work and value for money. We present the top 10 in reverse order.
Satisfaction rating: 88.8%
There’s no 10 place here, rather a tie for ninth position. First up is ever-reliable Toyota…
Satisfaction rating: 88.8%
Followed by Jaguar, which finishes in a credible position, above its three German rivals.
Satisfaction rating: 88.9%
Kia might offer the most complete ownership experience in the UK. Not only are its cars very good looking, but the servicing appears to be excellent and there’s a seven-year warranty for added reassurance.
Satisfaction rating: 89.3%
Subaru owners are a happy bunch, especially when they drive cars aged 4-20 years. The off-road brand scored 100% for attitude of staff and 97.1% for quality of work. Impressive.
Satisfaction rating: 89.4%
SsangYong rarely gets the credit it deserves, so a sixth place finish is a great result. It finished top for attitude of staff at franchised dealers for cars aged 0-20 years, with a score of 98.3%.
Satisfaction rating: 89.5%
Dacia is the ultimate ‘having your cake and eating it’ brand, with low sticker prices matched by a good performance in the Servicing Satisfaction Survey.
Satisfaction rating: 89.9%
Hyundai is 0.3% away from a top three finish, but this remains an impressive result for the Korean giant. Its five-year unlimited mileage warranty is one of the best in the business.
Satisfaction rating: 90.2%
Along with a third place finish, Lexus was also rated number one for value for money at independent dealers. The question is: can you name the brand in second place?
Satisfaction rating: 90.9%
If you guessed MG, well done. The Chinese-owned company finished second overall and first for value for money at franchised dealers for cars aged 0-20 years.
Satisfaction rating: 91.2%
Honda finishes top with a satisfaction rating of 91.2%. Speaking about the result, Steve Huntingford said: “[Honda scores] well in every area. And while the level of satisfaction with many brands plummets as cars age, Honda owners can expect attentive behaviour from staff and a high standard of workmanship throughout their cars’ lives.”
Analysing data from 40,000 policies and £3 million worth of authorised claims, Warranty Direct has revealed the car brands with the most problems and the cost of repair should things go wrong.
Listed in reverse order, these are the 10 manufacturers which had the highest percentage of claims made against them, along with the average cost a claim. Owners of an Alfa Romeo, Porsche and Land Rover without warranty cover might want to look away now.
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10. Citroen: 15% claims
The number of Warranty Direct claims are measured as a percentage of the number of policies held per manufacturer. On this basis, Citroen finishes 10th, with 15% of drivers needing to make a claim against their warranty.
Philip Ward of Warranty Direct 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.”
£363.20 average claim
Meanwhile, Warranty Direct has revealed the cost of the average authorised claim, which ranks Citroen as the second lowest on the list. If something goes wrong, you can expect to pay £363.20 to repair your Citroen, unless you’re covered by a warranty.
=8. Volvo: 16% claims
Finishing joint 8th in terms of total claims is Volvo, with 16% of drivers needing to call upon their warranty for financial help.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Honda, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota are deemed to be the most reliable vehicles on the market. Between 3% and 6% of policies were claimed against throughout the year.
Volvo: £466.92 average claim
When something does go wrong with your Volvo, you can expect to pay just under £477 to repair it.
=8. BMW: 16% claims
Level with Volvo is BMW, with 16% of policies claimed against throughout the year. Predictably, it’s manufacturers of larger, more complex vehicles that feature on Warranty Direct’s ‘repair scares’ list.
The company reveals that superminis and hatchbacks did not receive many claims, largely due to the simplicity of their parts and reduced labour cost. Other brands to perform well in the survey included Smart, Kia, SEAT, Ford and Hyundai.
BMW: £609.13 average claim
Be prepared to dig deep should things go wrong with your BMW. At £609.13, this is the second highest average authorised claim on the list, which suggests you might want to consider an aftermarket warranty.
7. Lexus: 22% claims
The figures make for good reading for the Japanese carmakers, although Lexus bucks the trend by finishing 7th.
Lexus might be the posh arm of Toyota, but if the Warranty Direct data is anything to go by, the more humble brand should provide fewer headaches.
Lexus: £469.68 average claim
If something goes wrong with your Lexus, you can expect to fork out just under £470 to put things right.
6. Jaguar: 23% claims
Finishing just outside the top five is Jaguar, with 23% of policies used throughout the year. On the flip-side, this does mean that 67% of Warranty Direct policies were unused.
Jaguar: £442.68 average claim
Jaguar performed relatively well in terms of the cost of the average claim, with £442.68 the third lowest on the list.
5. Mercedes-Benz: 25% claims
Into the top five, where we find Mercedes-Benz. According to Warranty Direct, this result is significant as “in 2015 alone the company sold 145,254 units in the UK, which equated to more than 5% of the market share”.
Mercedes-Benz: £559.99 average claim
Warranty Direct goes on to say that an average repair cost of £559.99 is the highest after Porsche and BMW.
4. Chrysler: 26% claims
When assessing the top five manufacturers on the list’s most frequent reasons for a claim, axle and suspension issues were common, along with electrical problems. Chrysler – which is now defunct in the UK – finishes fourth with 26% of total claims.
Chrysler: £474.28 average claim
Although not one of the most regular faults, Warranty Direct says gearbox repairs come at a significant cost and averaged over £1,250 across the top five brands. Meanwhile, it’ll cost £474.28 to repair your Chrysler.
3. Land Rover: 34% claims
A total of 34% of Land Rovers covered by a Warranty Direct policy suffered a fault of some kind. Perhaps a Japanese SUV would have made more sense…
Land Rover: £513.31 average claim
If something goes wrong with your Land Rover you can expect to receive a bill for just over £513.
2. Porsche: 36% claims
Finishing second is Porsche, with a claims rate of 36% across policies held with Warranty Direct. Common claims for Porsche owners included suspension and electrical issues, along with steering faults.
Porsche: £1,019.07 average claim
The average cost of £1,019.07 per repair is eye-watering in the extreme and just goes to prove how valuable an aftermarket warranty can be.
1. Alfa Romeo: 40% claims
Sitting at the top – or should that be bottom? – of the list is Alfa Romeo with a claims rate of 40%. Suspension, electrical and cooling system problems were the most frequent cause for payouts in 2015.
Alfa Romeo: £335.47 average claim
To provide some balance, Alfa Romeo is able to claim the lowest average repair cost on the list of worst offenders, although if you’re making regular trips to the garage, this could turn out to be a red herring.
Research by the Good Garage Scheme reveals that 42% of drivers put off getting their car serviced because of the cost – a worrying stat as winter approaches and a neglected car could be more dangerous than ever.
To combat this, it’s launching a campaign with racing driver and ex-Top Gear presenter Tiff Needell to encourage motorists to have their cars checked over by professionals this winter.
- The average Brit spends £695 a year maintaining their car
- More car news on Motoring Research
Alongside the winter car check, which includes an inspection of the coolant, engine oil, tyres, wiper blades, windscreen and lights, Needell will also be promoting the scheme’s service plans.
Available for MOTs and servicing, these split the cost over 12 months as interest-free monthly payments – meaning you can pay for your car’s maintenance just like you would a utility bill.
A search on the scheme’s website reveals you can take out a service plan for a 10-year-old Skoda Octavia 2.0-litre petrol for £23 a month over 29 months.
This includes two standard services and interim service – while, for an extra £5.14 a month, a Good Garage Scheme member will MOT your car for you.
“Service Plans provide a simple, flexible way to budget for servicing and MOT requirements by spreading the cost throughout the year in interest-free monthly instalments, just like any other household bill,” says the scheme’s spokesperson, Simon Wade.
“The plans are available to suit each driver’s needs, with a choice of plans to include interim and standard servicing, with or without an MOT.”
It’s a legal requirement for all cars over three years old (unless they’re exempt – e.g. vehicles made before 1960) to pass the yearly MOT roadworthiness test.
While servicing isn’t compulsory, it’s a good idea to keep your car in good condition and prevent breakdowns. If your car is still in warranty, skipping a service could void this – although many car manufacturers offer servicing packages to make it more affordable while the car is still nearly-new.
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