/ Money, Motoring

What’s your most costly car repair bill?

There’s never a good time for something to go wrong with your car, but expensive repair bills somehow crop up at times when you want them least. What’s your biggest ever repair bill?

As a former two-time Alfa Romeo owner (glutton for punishment), I’m fully aware of the horror moment when a mechanic hands over a repair bill that makes your jaw almost drop to the floor and your wallet clench in distress.

I’ll not forget the knee-buckling receipt for my Alfa GT diesel when I took it to a franchised dealer for a minor service. £1,200 for a non-major service almost floored me, and the experience was further compounded when the car had an electrical fault on the way home from the dealership and went into limp mode. If anything, I could have used the four-sheet-long repair bill as tissues to wipe away the tears…

Cars Editor, Claire Evans, is just as familiar with the situation:

‘My Renault Modus suffered a faulty electrical control unit that pushed my annual service bill over £600 for 2012. Until it was fixed, I had to indicate left to turn the windscreen wipers on and right to turn them off!’

The most expensive car repair bills

But it’s an experience I know many motorists face each year. And we find out the severity of annual repair bills each year in the Which? Car Survey.

Last year, 47,500 of you told us about the 57,000 cars you own, including what the most common faults were on your cars, and how much your annual repair bills totalled.

And for some car owners, the results were rather costly.

Land Rover Discovery 3 owners had it worst, with an average annual repair bill of £478. According to our data, 23% of all Discovery 3s suffered from suspension component faults, which would be one of the main reasons for the costly repairs.


Tell us about your most costly repair bill

The Which? Car Survey 2014 is ready for you to fill in now so you can tell us about your repair bills in the last 12 months, as well as how satisfied you are with your car over the last year of motoring.

What you tell us about your car has a direct effect on which cars we recommend and which we don’t, so we would love to hear from you. And if you do fill in the survey, you’ll be entered into a free prize draw to win £2,500 – the equivalent of free fuel for a year.

And as well as filling in the survey, leave a comment below to tell us what your most expensive repair bill has been in all your time of motoring. Can you beat my £1,200 shocker?


My only large bill was when my three year old car developed a major problem in 1989. Without much pressure, VW agreed that the failure was due to a manufacturing defect and authorised the main dealer to install a new short engine provided that I paid for labour. It still cost several hundred pounds but I managed to persuade the dealer to fix a developing problem free-of-charge.

Stephen Baxter says:
20 December 2013

Several years ago VW identified a defect in the Golf heater matrix. Not only was
my own Golf put through the recall but I managed to save a Swiss colleague
some £100s of pounds after the matrix in his Golf failed and he was then able
to have the repair done under the same recall.


Good point. It is worth checking to see if your vehicle has been recalled: http://www.dft.gov.uk/vosa/apps/recalls/

Stephen Baxter says:
20 December 2013

Several years ago I purchased a VW Passat Estate
2nd hand via Autotrader. The vehicle was in good condition and
had air conditioning. I took out a warranty for
the vehicle and sure enough the air con failed
8 months later. The bill at the VW dealer
was £500 and took a few follow up phone calls
to the Warranty company to secure payment.

Stephen Baxter says:
20 December 2013

This time a 3 year old Toyota Avensis CDX that
I aquired from my father. The car was still under warranty.
There was a bad scratch in the paintwork
that I thought might cost me £100. Border Toyota
manager to fix just by using cleaning materials
and did not charge me.
6 months later at service the same dealer
found 2 worn brake discs and said that
they would be replaced under warranty.
The repaired car returned with a £300
bill that was reduced to zero when I reminded
the Dealer of the Warranty claim.


I am impressed. I thought than brake disks were generally excluded from warranties because they are subject to wear in normal use. Perhaps this was because you had only had the car for six months, even though it was over three years old.

A common recommendation is to use air conditioning periodically even during the winter months, supposedly to keep seals lubricated. I do that anyway to help demisting in winter. The air con was still working fine after ten years without any servicing after ten years, on my last two cars.

Stephen Baxter says:
20 December 2013

Toyota warranties are very comprehensive and cover most parts of the vehicle.
This is in contrast to some aftermarket warranties which can be both vague and

I use aircon year round as I consider it an aid to driver safety.

better by bike says:
20 December 2013

Our 2007 VW Touran has recently required a new turbocharger and exhaust system, at a cost of £2,650. The car has done just 57,000 miles and been regularly serviced at a VW garage. This unexpected cost seemed unreasonable, and indicative of a manufacturing fault. However, VW were not prepared to make any contribution to the repair. Be warned!

Stephen Baxter says:
20 December 2013

Did you have the defective turbocharger professionally examined ?
Exhausts are a consumable item – was it the original one that failed ?
What engine is fitted to the vehicle ?