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.”
Let’s face it, if we could put a man on the moon in 1969, there was no excuse for the overuse of explosives in Rome the same year was there? They obviously didn’t read their manual thoroughly – if they read it at all.
Taking a leaf from that particular book, some of us are just as guilty when it comes to reading our own car manual. Recently one customer confused the ‘oil pressure too low’ warning light with the one for ‘oil level too low’. As there was plenty of oil in the sump the problem was forgotten, so less and less oil was being pumped around the engine, which eventually seized up. What should have been a couple of hours’ work and a replacement pump costing £220, became a major £1,500 repair.
If you want to stay safe on the road and save time, money and a lot of hassle, here are five steps you can take right now:
- Read your manual and get to know all the benefits your vehicle already has built in; then make sure you recognise what the warning symbols really mean. It’s not a two-minute job, but I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you learn
- Check that your lights work; don’t wait until someone flashes you or you get pulled over by the police. If you need two lights over your rear registration plate and one’s out, you’re not ‘legal’
- Open up the bonnet and make sure you’ve got enough screen wash, coolant and oil. Your manual will tell you what to look for and how to top up; if you’re unsure, go to your local garage for help and advice
- Investigate any strange noise as soon as it happens. The majority of garages will give your vehicle a free health check so, if it’s nothing, it’s cost you nothing and you have peace of mind
- Make sure you have the correct tyre pressure; you’ll have a more comfortable ride and you’ll save fuel. Don’t know how? One supermarket chain has a system which puts the correct amount of air into each tyre; you just need to know what that pressure is (it’s in your manual), input the information and the air hose does the rest
With modern cars there’s a misconception that there’s very little you can do without resorting to the expense of a garage. Once something’s gone wrong, yes you will need to bring your car in, but there’s so much you can do to prevent a minor irritation turning into a serious problem.
Not a lot of people know that.