825,000 Four-Year Old Cars Will Suffer A Mechanical Failure

The big end may last eight years, but you are more likely to have trouble starting it after just four years according to a new car reliability survey.

With up to 825,000 four-year-old vehicles* suffering a mechanical failure this year alone, Warranty Direct analysed ten popular manufacturers to find out when common faults are likely to leave you reaching for your wallet.

The analysis is based on 16,000 vehicles aged between 4-8 years old. The average repair bill stood at £455.38

Axle and suspension faults plus fuel and ignition systems have the highest rates of failure as the car emerges from the protection of a manufacturer’s three-year-warranty. In comparison, transmission and engines failures tend to happen in the eighth year.

According to Warranty Direct, a vehicle’s cooling system is nearly twice as likely to need remedial work in year eight compared to year four.

The ability to stop starts to become more of a problem in year six as the brakes begin to show increased signs of frailty, with the chance of failure rising from 1.3% in year four to a high of 3.2%, or as much as 1 in 10 for some manufacturers.

Naturally the longevity of a part does depend on the manufacturer. For example if you have a four-year old Vauxhall, there is a 1 in 20 chance that its engine will suffer a gremlin, necessitating an average £624.53 for repairs.

On average, the chance of a Ford developing a suspension problem is around 1 in 10 - no matter how old it is - while in Renaults it’s the four-year-old machines that are most likely to suffer, with 13.7 per cent having a problem in this area, at an average of £160.13 and £191.27 respectively.

Owners of relatively new prestige models shouldn’t think they’re safe either four-year-old Audi and Mercedes models showed an even greater propensity for fuel system problems, 7.2 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively, almost double the average.

And soon after that, many Audi's develop steering problems, with 1 in 13 owners needing remedial work on their six-year-old vehicles.

* Calculation based on conservative estimate of 2.2 million new cars sold each year and the fact that 37.5% of cars have some type of failure.

24 October 2007 Staff

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