British motors - as unreliable as the British weather?

If there’s one thing you can rely on in Britain, it’s the unreliable weather. Prepare for rain and the sun will be cracking the flags. Leave the house without a brolly and the downpours will be Biblical. And if the findings of the latest Warranty Direct Reliability Index are anything to go by, British motors are just as temperamental.

Data breakdown

The Index looks at data from over 50,000 live Warranty Direct policies and rates them across four categories:
  • Frequency of failure
  • Cost of repair
  • Duration of repairs
  • Average age and mileage
The average score is 100 – and UK makes of car notched-up a well-above-average of 209. Which is bad news, actually, since the more reliable the motor, the lower its score. So the UK’s high score puts it clear bottom of the eight-nation table of most reliable manufacturers. At the other end of the scale, Japanese brands proved to be the most reliable – they were the only makes to achieve a below-average score. Here’s how those results break down (you see what I did there?):

Axle to grind

The findings show that axle/suspension trouble is the most common fault for UK brands, accounting for over a quarter (26%) of all recorded malfunctions. Axle and suspension problems also featured most frequently across Japanese (25%), American (23%) and Italian (29%) brands. Electrical faults were also a big problem, accounting for around a quarter of faults in French (29%) and Swedish (26%), German (24%) and South Korean (22%) brands.

Extended warranty

The figures are based upon Warranty Direct’s own warranty claim costs for cars that are no longer covered by manufacturer warranties. This means the data can be slightly skewed because some firms offer warranties that run longer than the standard three years. This means data from South Korean brands like Hyundai and Kia, as well as Toyota of Japan and the USA’s Chevrolet, will not feature until they are five or even seven years old, meaning there’s a greater likelihood of normal wear and tear.

Brands on the run

On the face of it, these results suggest the UK car industry is in a bit of a state - not only is the UK score over twice the supposed RI average, but the reason it’s so high is down to underperformance from two of its most prestigious brands, Jaguar and Land Rover. However, because these brands are considered among the top marques in motoring they’ll always be highly sought after, regardless of whether the suspension is likely to go after a few years. And this doesn’t just apply to specific brands as the same notions are often applied to countries –Germany is a watchword for engineering excellence, but it came sixth in the table.

State of the nation

"...the French, whose cars as a whole are more reliable." 
David Gerrans, Warranty Direct managing director, said: “Though the automotive industry has many blurred lines now in terms of countries of origin, the average consumer maintains certain preconceptions about car brands and the countries that create them. ‘German reliability’ is an oft-used phrase, but as demonstrated here, the country’s output as a whole doesn’t  match up to its close neighbours, the French, whose cars as a whole are more reliable.” It should be remembered that car manufacturers throw their nets far and wide, meaning that Japanese car you’re knocking about in is more likely to have been manufactured in the north east than the Far East. And so the high-scores achieved by Japan’s Nissan and Honda bode well for the Sunderland-produced Qashqai and the Swindon-made Civic – and the UK motor manufacturing industry as a whole.

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