After having to repair worn out parts on a car that’s only 3 years-old, it seems looking for cars that have been designed to be fixed easily is worthwile. Especially once you’ve counted in the cost of labour…
The price you pay for your car is only half the story; the devil is in what you’ll have to fork out to maintain and repair it afterwards. Some cars are low-maintenance, well-designed workhorses, while others can end up costing their own purchase price in repair bills.
I write this fresh from a spat with Mini about an astronomical bill I received for a new clutch and flywheel for my three-year-old (out-of-warranty) Countryman after 50,000 miles. Not only do I consider that a pathetically short life for a clutch and flywheel compared with those in previous cars I’ve owned, I also consider £2,500 an absurdly large amount to charge to replace them.
Mini argues, of course, that the failures are due to ‘wear and tear’. And it asserts that an upgrade it made to the clutch in Countryman models in the US in 2012 is irrelevant outside that region.
Whatever the cause of the problem, why does it cost £2,500 to replace two car parts unless they’re made of solid gold? The answer lies partly in the labour charge, which was more than £1,000.
Under the bonnet
Some cars are designed to be fixed easily, and some aren’t. In 2013, the Which? cars team uncovered one of the worst examples of bad design: the Renault Modus, which ran up a bill of £150 if you wanted to change a headlight bulb because that entailed removing the entire front bumper.
The Which? Car Survey will tell you that the average annual repair cost for a Mini over three years old is £148 for a diesel and £154 for a petrol version. For a Honda Jazz it is a tiny £16. And for a Land Rover Discovery 3, it’s £570.
These figures are drawn directly from the experiences of the 49,000 car owners who filled in our survey last year. We’ve just closed the 2015 survey, and we expect it to keep its crown as the biggest in the UK when we publish the results later this year.
Have you had a larger than expected car repair bill? Have you ever thought about the design of a car and the potential repair bills before buying?