It’s fairly safe to say that, given a healthy lottery win, we’d buy a new car (to go with the new house) and we’d probably choose a car that came from Germany or Italy. Agree? Something that has a satisfying clunk when you close the doors; that purrs along but can turn into a panther if you need the speed? Well just in case you don’t get that lottery win, and that you have to watch your pennies because money’s tight these days, you really ought to know what kind of car will get you from A to B reliably all the time. And it doesn’t come from Germany or Italy or even England; it comes from Japan. In a survey conducted by What Car? and Warranty Direct, experts examined the warranty claims of 50,000 three- to eight-year-old vehicles across 38 car marques.
For the eighth year running Honda is at the top of the list of ten most reliable cars on the road; it’s also the cheapest to fix if one did break down. In fact seven of the top ten are Japanese, Hyundai’s from South Korea, and Ford and Chevrolet are the only two to break the dominance of the Far East.
The highest polling British brand, coming in at 24, is Rover, which went bust in 2005! Luxury brands Bentley and Land Rover are the least reliable, so you could save yourself even more money by avoiding them. Mind you if you can afford a Bentley, you probably aren’t too worried about the running costs involved.
Chas Hallett, editor-in-chief of What Car?, said: “Honda’s success is down to low failure rates. Manufacturers at the bottom of the table could learn from their Japanese counterparts.”
On Friday 27 April our manager Paul, and his new wife Gemma, completed a skydive to raise money for charity Help for Heroes in the name of Courtney Fraser, whose father was seriously injured in Afghanistan and is now unable to serve.
They were up bright and early for an 8:30 start at Beccles Airfield, where they received training and some health and safety guidance. Then they were strapped to their instructors and ready to go; in fact Paul and Gemma had the skies to themselves that day because of the unfavourable weather conditions.
The couple decided on a tandem skydive instead of an expensive honeymoon, as it would have meant leaving their 16-month old son Zaviar behind. Gemma said, “We decided to do it because it’s a once in a lifetime experience and it was for a very good cause. It was strange because after you jump out of the plane, you don’t feel like you’re moving at all. You would have thought being strapped to a complete stranger then jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet would be really scary, but it wasn’t too bad. What stuck in my head was the eerie silence, and the fact that it was freezing cold!”
They were given the chance to steer their own parachutes, which Gemma aptly described as “trying to hold on to an umbrella in the wind.” She landed safely in the field, but there was no sign of Paul. It turns out he had landed in a completely different field – and men say women are bad drivers!
The couple raised £215 for Help for Heroes and adrenaline junkie Paul wants to do a bungee jump for their next fundraising event. Lucky Gemma.
Nowadays any new car will probably come with air conditioning as standard. We assume that it is only useful to keep us cool on a hot day. So why is it standard here in England; we don’t enjoy the hottest of temperatures do we?
Well air conditioning can help in other ways too. It quickly demists your windscreen, filters out airborne particles (like dust and pollen) to make the air ‘purer’ and, on that elusive hot day, helps to keep the temperature in your car down and the aerodynamics unaffected (which wouldn’t be the case if you had to open your window).
Like everything else under the bonnet, the air conditioning system needs servicing to keep it working effectively and efficiently. Although the technology has come a long way since the original system which was first used in the 1940s, it still needs to be maintained. Air conditioning repairs can be very costly, so having your system serviced regularly can help you avoid large bills later on.
It is a very complicated system with quite a few components: a compressor, condenser, evaporator, orifice tube, expansion valve and accumulator (amongst other things) – so don’t try a DIY service at home!
All air conditioning systems will leak refrigerant over a period of time, and if this is allowed to continue, can seriously affect the compressor (the main and most costly part of your system). If it is not repaired by an expert it could cause further damage and, in extreme cases, lead to your car breaking down.
Despite the lack of hot weather, you should use your air conditioning all year to ensure the refrigerant and oil are circulated round the system; this makes it harder for bacteria to grow and keeps the seals lubricated. That musty odour you can get is a common complaint – it can smell of anything, from stale air to babies’ nappies. It’s caused by the mould which can build up in the evaporator, a perfect home for bacteria, but can easily be remedied during the air conditioning service.
The John Austin air conditioning service costs £78, but we’ve just launched a new loyalty scheme where you could get this for FREE*. If you’re one of the unlucky few who doesn’t have air conditioning, then you can give it to a friend or relative to use – I’m sure they’ll be pleased to have their system serviced for free. You can collect your loyalty card from the garage today.
*Terms and conditions apply.