/ Motoring

When cars cost too much to run

Car exhaust

Ever bought a car and all-too-quickly regretted it because it cost an arm and a leg to live with? Do you consider the running costs of cars before you buy?

Being a car fan, I have to admit that I’ve regretted some of my car purchases due to the cost of running them. Before my mortgage and kids were denting my earnings, one of my most extravagant purchases was a 1939 Studebaker Commander.

Not only did it weigh a couple of tons, it was fitted with a 2.7-litre petrol engine with the thirst of a squaddie on a weekend’s leave. And to top off the astronomical running costs, this American giant was also too big to fit in my garage, so I had to rent a barn for it to live in.

That may be a very extreme case, but there are still pretty massive differences in the cost of running different versions of the same modern car model.

Car running costs calculated

If you choose a pacey Audi RS6 Avant estate over a bog-standard A6 Avant you’ll pay 20p more for every single mile you drive. The RS6 costs £1.90 per mile for fuel costs servicing and car tax, while the A6 costs £1.70 according to CAP.

And most people cover more than 10,000 miles a year, so that’s a £2,000 difference.

Before buying my Commander I could really have done with a quick calculator to plug in some raw stats, which would then spit out a simple cost-per-mile figure. That way I could see how much each element of ownership was going to cost up front, as well as the overall figure.

Do you work out the cost of owning a car before you buy? If so what factors are most important to you – depreciation, car tax, servicing, fuel costs, insurance, or others? Or perhaps you don’t really consider costs upfront and have a car running cost regret to share…

Comments
Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Certain costs – fuel, insurance, depreciation – can be estimated pretty well before you commit to a car (but look at road tests / Honest John for fuel consumption, not the published figures). What you will find less easy are repair/replacement costs if things go wrong. These can make a big hole in your budget. Turbo failures, injectors, alternator, replacing Xenon bulbs, may hit you, particularly if, like me, you keep you car into 6 figure mileage. My alternator is water cooled and costs £400 parts (repaired locally last time for £200), my turbo failed, my gearbox failed at 90k, but I philosophically regard this as a trade off against low depreciation in a car a like and hopefully will now motor on for a lot more miles. However, worth looking at these costs when considering a car. My Son’s BMW windscreen costs £1000 – not necessarily replaced on insurance with a genuine BMW screen – so if it matters you’ll have to stump up the cost.
Also worth checking whether you have a local independent garage for your make to service your car – mine is ex-dealer people who charge 60% of the main dealer labour cost – a substantial saving.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

For me, the top priority is to avoid buying models or makes with a very poor reputation for reliability. For many years I have listened to Fiat and Renault owners’ tales of woe. I try to avoid buying a new model, preferring to wait until the major problems have been overcome. Before buying, I try to find out about common problems with a model and how much they would cost to fix.

There is a lot to be said for buying popular models because they are often sold at competitive prices and spares are usually readily available.

My tips to save money are to minimise car use by combining journeys, and not to replace a car unless there is a compelling reason for doing so.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

You probably bought the Studebaker for reasons other than fuel economy and with such a car, this shouldn’t really be an issue. Your use of it is. A “sensible” second car, to supplement the classic Studebaker, is a pre-requisite of ownership. My elderly Volvo averaged 28 to the gallon and, while it ran well, I put up with that, because a replacement was a costly alternative. When it finally became unreliable, I bought my first diesel, and this was principally to improve fuel economy. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have considered diesel as an option. Times change.

Member
richard says:
9 June 2013

The only expense I’ve really considered has been fuel economy – But have been caught out several times – Had Austin Martin DB – the cost of insurance was prohibited (couldn’t afford to renew) Had a Mazda from new that cost an arm and a leg to replace worn out fittings within four years – Had a Mini Cooper S that was unreliable. The best was a Nissan that I had 20 years and only went wrong once at 20 years old and decided to replace it with an Hyundai..

Member
Leonard says:
12 June 2013

I’ve been pleased with my Honda Jazz, but disappointed at the cost of things that I didn’t think should wear out as soon as they do. I’ve just done 36000 miles since I bought it in 2004, but have had to pay for replacement brake discs twice at £200 a time, replacement front suspension units at £275, and £195 to replace a lost key. I was told that the discs became corroded “because I didn’t use the brakes enough to keep them shiny” and that the suspension was likely to become loose because of speed humps in the road (though I always crawl over these). Am I being unrealistic in expecting a car to last 10 years without needing major parts to be replaced at such cost? If brake discs are considered “consumables” we need a warning of this. I can’t blame Honda for the lost key, but the replacement cost seems ridiculously high.

Member
Stephen J Butler says:
19 June 2013

Once owned a RAV4 that when booked in for its annual service, I was told the same i.e., brake discs needing replacing due to corrosion on discs caused by not using brakes enough to keep them shiny and smooth. When a vehicle is in the driveway or garage and overnight it rains, discs display rust spots which are eliminated after taking vehicle out for even a short run, using the brakes. I ignored the garage’s advice and ran the RAV4 for another year before taking it to a different garage for servicing who serviced it and DID not mention anything about the discs needing replaced. Discs were never replaced in my 5 years of ownership and when sold back to a dealership they tested the RAV4 prior to exchanging for a new car and still did not mention anything about the discs. New car, a Kuga, after driving fir a year and putting it in for its 1st service, I was told that tyres needed replacing as the fronts were down to 4.4mm & 4.5mm respectively at a cost of nearly £600 even though legal limit is 1.6mm!!! Moral here, get a second opinion.

Member
Peter Lawley says:
12 June 2013

We bought a new VW Golf Bluemotion 1.6D on the strength of its claimed fuel economy in October 2011. It’s never achieved anything like the claimed figures, first averaging around 50mpg, and more recently after 25000 miles it’s now up to around 56mpg overall.
Our motoring is a mix of uncrowded urban and suburban roads, dual carriageways and infrequent motorway trips, where I always use cruise control wherever safe to do so.
VW claim figures for our ‘Match’ version of the high 60’s for the extra-urban cycle, and low 70’s for urban, all of which is a complete fiction as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t even make the supposed Which? ‘real world’ consumption figures.
I complained both to Which? and to VW, who had it in for testing and pronounced everything to be in order and very politely told me it’s down to my own driving style and pattern of usage.
The Golf is a lovely car to drive, and well built, and if I had the GTi version, I wouldn’t complain, but I’ll be very wary of taking any notice of manufacturers’ figures in the future.
I think all the consumption figures publicised by manufacturers can be taken with a very large handful of salt.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The EU consumption figures are derived from standard tests to put published consumption figures on a common basis; they are not claimed to represent real life. This is not about manufacturers mis-claiming. One place to look for real life figures is Honest John’s website.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Peter

I bought a Golf 1.6D Match a year ago, rejecting the economy BlueMotion simply because there was no spare wheel. I have yet to measure the true fuel consumption but assuming the gauge is reasonably accurate I can achieve over 60 mpg on longer journeys without difficulty. Thanks to a lot of short journeys and paying less attention to how I drive, my average over the last 2k miles is only 58.6mpg. I reckon that Which? is right in saying that driving technique and how the vehicle is used that is important.

If you study the instantaneous fuel consumption it is not difficult to see how to use less fuel. My experience is that being slightly held up in traffic can produce substantially better fuel economy than driving at constant speed. Constant speed is important for safety on motorways but there is certainly no need for this on single-carriageway roads. I will focus on my driving again and expect to average over 60mpg this summer.

Some people use their air conditioning all year round. I don’t know how much extra fuel this uses, but there is certainly a running cost.

Member
Richard Laycock says:
12 June 2013

You state that you use cruise control on long journeys. While this is a boon to a relaxed drive it has been shown that it uses more fuel than a careful right foot. Top Gear tried to get a new Audi diesel from London to Edinburgh and back on one tank of fuel and was on course to miss by a big margin until J Clarkson turned off the cruise control. He just made the target.

Member
Smofalsh says:
12 June 2013

In my experience of cruise controls, I have discovered over several years that on long journeys, for example through France where the traffic is relatively sparse compared to British motorways, I have considerably bettered my average mpg whilst travelling utilising the cruise control. I never get the sameresults in the UK.

Member
Daxiboy Cornwall says:
12 June 2013

I bought a VW Tiguan 2Ltr 2wd Bluemotion brand new in Janurary 2012 all went well till I went to collect after signing the hand over docs my wife noticed it said 4wd oh dear pointed out to the salesman who said you are lucky you have got 4wd for the price of 2wd when asking about fuel consumption told very little in it you will be ok told to expect about 45mpg .After 1000mls found average 35mpg on a journey around urban cycle 23-25mpg this was horrendous went back to the dealer who found nothing wrong with the vehicle said run it in a bit more . 1500mls later still no i,provement went back to the dealer and complained told shouldnt of excepted the vehicle in the first place ???? g had close relative dying of cancer at the time of delivery and had to cut handover short and rush away In the long term I couldnt afford to run the vehicle ended up with the correct vehicle 8 months later and having to fork out another £2500 morale of the story dont ever believe manufacturers quoted MPG told they are dont independantly of the manufacturer so there fore no re-course, ask a few owners about fuel consumption before parting with your hard earned think twice before parting with the honeypot

Member
Peter Lawley says:
17 June 2013

The instantaneous mileage read out on the Golf I find meaningless and distracting to the point of dangerous, as it changes in the blink of an eye, and can vary from 13 – 200mpg in a millisecond.
The Gold has two memory indicators, no 1 for day to day journeys and no 2 for monitoring up to 999 hours of travel. No.1 monitors average, as opposed to instant, fuel consumption, every few seconds for any given trip, whilst No2 will give you longer term average consumption.
No 2 memory in conjunction with accurate mileage recording on fuel fill ups confirm one another at an average overall consumption at present of 56 mpg (up from 50 mpg when new) which accords with the returns on Honest John website for this model, at about 86% of the manufacturers claimed figures.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I see the instantaneous fuel consumption indicator useful to help understand how the engine is using fuel and has helped me adapt my driving to decrease use of fuel. I don’t use it very often and would not look at it when overtaking, negotiating a junction, or driving in heavy traffic.

Profile photo of TomMcGregor
Member

I just got a new Golf last week.
I have not come to terms with what is meant by range. This changes on a whim. With a full tank it sugested400 miles. Next day, after I had driven 120 miles, it suggested 550 miles. Now at under half a tank it says 220. I’ll fill up again tomorrow and enter the details in to a spreadsheet on my computer at home and that will give me the actual accurate information from each time I fill up and also the average over the next two or three years that I expect to keep it.

Member
Dr C Fleming says:
12 June 2013

Have a Mercedes 300D. Some time ago needed a replacement for a blown rear light….was driving past a main dealer so stopped and went in . Told cost was £49!!!!! Left and went to my usual service people in NW6…..cost nil + free cup of coffee!! Family run firm,excellent mechanics (as opposed to fitters) and customer service as it should be.

Profile photo of Bob in Stanmore
Member

I bought a pre-registered Saab 9-3 1.9TDI in March 2006 for £20,000. Effectively a new car with 5 miles on the clock and it has now done 64000 miles. I have in my calculations of running costs, depreciated this to zero value. Including running costs, standard services, tyres, MoTs, insurance, depreciation and unexpected repairs the average cost of the car over its life has been about 65p/mile. Not sure if that’s good or bad but the unexpected repairs have included: (a) alternator and battery (£550); (b) inlet manifold, swirl actuator and EGR valve (£1,880); (c) dual mass flywheel and clutch (£1,650); (d) steering column integrated module and replacement keys (£670); (e) steering rack (£1,500); and (f) a drive belt pulley (£150). Total = £6,400. Dual mass flywheels are a known issue with manual diesels but overall the above list is a bit longer than I was expecting over the period I have owned the car. That said, it is comfortable and very good when running well. Only the alternator failure left me stranded and needing a recovery truck.

Member
peter hudson says:
12 June 2013

BMW 520d. excessive tyre wear on a rear tyre. My tyre supplier checked wheel alignment -all correct -no charge. a week later the Bmw dealer did the same check -found nothing -charged £150.Took about half an hour.

Claimed fuel consumption 55 mpg(diesel). Actual 38mpg.

Runflat tyres cost £200 in UK but € 400 in France.

Member
Paul Evans says:
12 June 2013

BMW 520d M sport since new, fantastic car to drive, but so expensive to service, and the run flat tyres have to be the special ones made for a BMW.
Have had to fit 6 new tyres in the last 4 years ! This is car is probably best as a company car where you don’t have to pay the running costs !

Member
Bigbob says:
12 June 2013

Purchased a new Toyota RAV4 D4D in 2002, in warranty I had a new waterpump and cambelt,
a replacement gearbox and new modified brakes. After the warranty I had the duel mass fiywheel and clutch replaced £2000 with no help from Toyota GB now I have had the second set of suction valves replaced in total £950 and no help from Toyota GB.
The Toyota dealership is very good and have serviced the vehicle since new but Toyota GB are a total disgrace and have total disreguard for the failings of poor quality parts fitted to the RAV4.
The customer service at Toyota GB is none exisitant, beware of the myth that Toyota are a reliable make and produce quality vehicles!

Member
Andy in Rossendale says:
12 June 2013

We bought a Fiat Punto Evo Sporting in 2010 as it had lot of standard kit and boasted a 1.4 Turbo Multi-Air system, which claimed Fiat gave it great economy together with the low-down grunt of a supercharged engine using a turbo. All very clever and indeed it pulled from a very un-turbo like 1200 rpm all the way to the red line. The down-side to this is that it is impossible to obtain the mpg claimed by Fiat and averages 28-32 mpg on mixed cycle driving which is poor for a 1.4 litre engine. The only way of getting close to claimed mpg figures is to drive on a flat motorway at 55mph!

Member
Smithy in Ealing says:
12 June 2013

Purchased a Seat Altea,5 door 1.6 petrol what a super car.Took the car to Paris, now the realization begins used nearly half a tank going from Enfield to the channel tunnel, the car had something about stopping at petrol stations, it cost a fortune in fuel.I put this down to the fact in order to maintain a constant 70 mph I was always driving at 4000 rpm, you are now drinking fuel big time, gearing all wrong in my opinion
Car now due a service, still under warranty, took the car to the local seat dealer it was the cars second annual service, a whopping £390, the car had not even covered 10,000 miles 2 years old.
Part X for a Nissan Qashqai

Member
Smofalsh says:
12 June 2013

The one thing about virtually every vehicle manufacturer’s claims about their products is the blatantly dishonest way they “massage” the performance/durability and costs figures. For example does ANY vehicle attain the mpg figures quoted in the sales literature? They advertise the lowest possible purchase price in extra large print(with a miniscule “from”) whilst illustrating the advert with a much higher-priced model which usually costs many thousands more than the “basic” price.

Member
Richard Laycock says:
12 June 2013

As stated by Honest John (Daily Telegraph) car manufacturers have no option but to comply with EU fuel usage procedures. True they probably switch off every electrical device, pump the tyres up hard etc. but they all do the same. HJ publishes readers’ figures and compares them with the quoted ones.

Member
Graham Ward says:
3 July 2013

Jaguar S type SE auto 2.7 diesel. Published “combined” mpg figure is 36mpg. Computer currently says 39.5mpg over approx 5000 miles. Mind you taking into account Jaguar electrics and electronics, the computer figure could be wrong!

Member
David says:
12 June 2013

My wife and I cover a small annual mileage and on the strength of MPG figures published by the manufacturer I bought a Hyundai i10 Automatic to replace a 1.4 Honda Jazz automatic. Our driving activity is very similar to that which we did in the Honda but whereas we achieved around 41 mpg with that vehicle we are fortunate to get 30 mpg in the Hyundai.

I read a few months ago that Hyundai USA are giving fuel vouchers to users who have complained about the unrealistic claims about economy but nothing has been offered to owners in the UK.I feel that double standards are being shown here.

Member
john hibbert says:
13 June 2013

I am staggered that people just accept what the manufactures say when they must know that these tests are done under lab. conditions.

Member
Richard Laycock says:
12 June 2013

I fell in love with the new (at that time) Mercedes-Benz A class back in 1998, it was the most unreliable car I’ve had since a Ginetta G15 kit car. On top of that the M-B servicing charges were appalling. I realise since that the company went through a bad time with build quality but that experience has put me off prestige cars for good. The Toyota Corolla which replaced it was comfortably the most reliable car I’ve ever had, if not the most exciting! I just need to find out how good my VW Polo 1.2 TSI is, it drives brilliantly.

Member
Keith H says:
12 June 2013

In March I bought a new Mark 7 Golf 2.0 TDI Bluemotion and opted for the DSG autiomatic, adding £1400 to the price. Big mistake. Driving carefully, as I was running it in, I’ve averaged less than 49 mph against VW’s claimed 62.8 mpg. My previous car, a 1997 VW Jetta 2.0 TDI manual, would have achieved 10 mpg more if driven in the same way – in spite of being a bigger and heavier car with older trchnology.

In addition, I find the automatic action, although very smooth, a pain as it always tries to use as high a gear as possible. For example it will attempt to pull up an incline at 36 mph in 6th gear, which means I cannot keep pace with traffic ahead unless I do a manual change. This is easy to achieve via the steering wheel paddles – but why have an automatic if you have to perform manual changes?

Member
NukeThemAll says:
2 September 2013

Keith H, if this is your first auto, the simple solution to the ‘it chooses a high gear’ is to simply press harder on the accelerator – the DSG box (like all autos) will change down a gear. No need for manual intervention!

And FWIW, I have a diesel auto. I reach or exceed the published mpg figures with careful (but not unduly slow) driving. I’ve long ago concluded that manufacturer’s figures can constitute an **approximate** pecking order, but this order can be **way** wrong if your driving style is very different to the way the official figures are generated (and I’m not implying it’s anyone’s fault – you can’t help it if your commute is in heavy stop-start traffic).

Member
Best Golfer says:
12 June 2013

Regret buying a Mitsibushi Grandis due to disaster dealers service and from the Head Office and due to very high running costs. Petrol tank seem to disappear very quickly probably only 200 miles from a tank costing around £70. Road tax is well over £200 (and i was lucky that my car registration date was just a few days different from another similar car who are paying around £400). Insurance is not cheap either – around £600. Forgot about the depreciation that’s bad as well. But the worst part is Car Parts cost. Had to replace Exhaust and that cost around £400. Really really regretting buying a Mitsibushi car due to the reasons mentioned above.

Member
Steve says:
12 June 2013

Don’t be fooled by the engine size!!

I recently got rid of my 2.0l Vauxhall Insignia for a 1.4l Corsa – BIG mistake.

Fuel consumption on the 1.4l is worse than the Insignia and I see “my” Insignia every day as I sold it to a colleague – choked!!

Member
Steeve says:
13 June 2013

I leased a Mercedes-Benz B-Class diesel for two years in 2011.

The fuel economy was rarely better than 25mpg in town, the insurance close to £1000 a year (I’m 45 with a clean licence) and the servicing costs ridiculous – close to £500 for a service for a car with less than 6000 miles on the clock! The dealer offers a complimentary lounge while you wait at a cost of £20 or a courtesy car at £50. I had the car serviced outside the dealer network and saved at least 60% on the cost of dealer servicing.

The car was delivered with a fault which took the dealer 6 weeks to fix and continued to suffer numerous faults during the two years that I had it, it rode terribly and was noisy and unresponsive.

I replaced the Mercedes-Benz with a Citroen DS3 a month ago and couldn’t be happier.

Member
Stuart Marshall says:
13 June 2013

I’ve owned a Ford Focus 1.0l EcoBoost (125PS) for nine months now. I have driven it very conservatively (I’m 80 years old, so no boy racer) and have carefully recorded its fuel economy over that period. The ‘combined’ figure is 37 mpg, which is less that two-thirds the ‘book’ figure of 56.5 mpg. So don’t expect a wonderful performance from Ford’s new wonder engine; the reality is that it’s no better than the previous 1.6l conventional petrol engine.

Member
Ian says:
13 June 2013

Disagree with comments about the Ecoboost. Since purchased has mainly been used for short trips to drop off and pick up my son at school (16miles a day) I live in a very hilly area and still return 38 mpg. Previously owned a 1.6 Focus and the consumption was a lot worse doing the same trips, and the driving experience was nowhere as good as the 999cc.

Member
David says:
13 June 2013

So annoying! Have owned a 6 year old Citroen Grand Picasso for just under 3 years – no problems for most of this time but lately had to pay £786 for a replacement electronic parking break ‘ECU.’ Most of my friends absolutely, completely, utterly, phenomenally detest electronic parking brakes – (get my drift?) Nothing wrong at all with the excellent, traditional, ‘touch and feely’ wire handbrake. There they are – the manufacturers/boffins – sitting in their ivory car pits, thinking of rather pathetic new car features to ‘wow’ us, the idiotic, unsuspecting drivers with. While I’m at it, I innocently thought a car was a car – a means of travelling safely and comfortably from A to B (and back again). The manufacturers now ‘wow’ us with everything but the car – entertainment and IT/info systems – and all quite unnecessary, other than to distract us on our journey. ‘Wow’ me? Certainly not! I’ll not buy a car with electronic braking again so, bye bye Citroen Grand Picasso, bye bye Volkswagen Passat, bye bye other prestigious makes that I might have considered. Whatever’s next on the motoring horizon, I wonder? An automatic nose-picker and debris disposer for the gents, perhaps? We’ll save a fortune on interior valeting Or, how about an automatic make up applier for the ladies – that’ll make the roads safer for us all, surely!

Back to the Grand Picasso – it’s really nice, very comfortable and, b*****, another light’s flashing – this time it’s £141 to replace a faulty clutch warning light switch. Anyone got a spare ‘grand’ to keep my ‘Grand’ on the road this month?

Member
Geoff Johnson says:
13 June 2013

As I approached retirement, I decided to down-size my car and reduce my car related outgoings by purchasing a Smart 2 seater. On paper this offered 56 mpg and £20 annual Road Tax. With previous cars I have always achieved the quoted average mpg and in many cases exceeded it, so I was disappointed that even driving carefully the best I ever managed was 45 mpg. Add to this exhorbitant servicing costs at my local Mercedes dealer (£300 for a service which is little more than an oil change), and insurance premiums that did not reflect the modest performance and the Smart was not such a smart move. After 1 year I cut my losses and reverted to a more conventional medium family hatchback.

Member
Smofalsh says:
13 June 2013

Can anyone help me? I’m looking for a brand new standard car.
This is my wish list:
NO electric windows. NO air conditioning. NO power steering. NO power brakes. NO “fly-by-wire” electronics. NO electronic locks. NO super audio sound system. NO provision for electronic add-ons.
I think that probably a brand-new original spec. Morris Minor 1000 would suit the bill…

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Difficult. I suppose there is the Renault Twizy, which does not even have windows, but it probably comes with the other features.

We need to know whether you expect your ideal car to come with a full-size spare wheel, tyre sealant or a space-saver that looks as if it might suit a Morris Minor.

Member
Smofalsh says:
13 June 2013

A proper full-size spare wheel is a must! Another “old fashioned” feature would also be desirable as well, that is a steering/suspension/transmission system that can be lubricated/replaced piecemeal; not the “sealed for life” types of today where “life” is short.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Smofalsh – I can certainly relate to the comments made in your first post. The main unexpected costs of running my last car were due to faults in the central locking system and electric windows, the latter being a well known weakness with the model.

Twenty years ago I would have joined you in condemnation of modern sealed-for-life assemblies but good design can make them reliable and for those who pay for servicing rather than do it themselves (a large majority) the modern practice can be more cost effective.

I expect that rising fuel costs will push manufacturers to ditch the ridiculously wide wheels fitted to many modern cars, which will make it more practical to store full-size spare wheels. Many have learned the hard way that tyre sealant does not always work and that they will need a new tyre even if it does – which certainly adds to running costs.

I would not like to go back to a car without air conditioning. Even in the UK it can become sometimes become unpleasantly hot inside a car.

Member
smofalsh says:
13 June 2013

Wavechange – Having spent most of my professional life within the motor industry it is only the advent of more advanced lower-cost materials and better precision engineering that has led to “sealed-for-life” assemblies in order to keep the cost -and more importantly- the unsprung weight down. The old-fashioned greased type assemblies would outlast most modern greaseless types provided they were correctly maintained and that was despite the fact that materials then used were not of the same quality available today.
Regretfully the days of a spare wheel are over due to the weight/space/cost implications of modern vehicular design. Decades ago I had a Rover SD1 Vitesse with a full sized spare. It was too wide to fit completely in the spare wheel well, and the alternative position (upright to one side of the boot space) took up too much room!
The Land Rover Defender has the air conditioning I like – Opening vents!
I usually only utilise air conditioning (or so-called climate control) during the wet winter(?) months when inner condensation presents itself.

Member
Mike Wise says:
13 June 2013

About 2 years ago decided to replace my Vauxhall Zafira 2 litre diesel,which, like my previous one, was giving me no end of trouble with the egr valve – I have decided never to buy another Vauxhall after having had 3 in a row all giving me expensive problems with the engine. I looked at lots of different cars and finally decided on an Hyundai IX 35 which offered me a 5 year warranty and fuel economy in the low 50’s.
My big disappointment is the fuel economy which only averages around 38 and that is with me driving extremely carefully with fuel economy in mind all the time – I generally set the cruise control on the motorway around 60 mph. I, like a previous contributor, understand that Hyundai have made recompense to owners in the U S, it is time that something is done for U K owners!

Member
JRM says:
13 June 2013

Bought my Toyota car (Urban Cruiser) in September 2009. In weighing up the costs at the time of purchase I took out a Service Contract, paying a D/D amount each month. This is the first time I’ve taken such a step.
Whilst it’s not been necessary to have any really comprehensive work done, with the back-up of the Warranty cover, it has certainly made the experience worthwhile.
It seems to have been cost effective (even the Garage admits that) as, over a period of time, prices/costs have risen.
It gives a ‘warm glow’ when collecting the car, after it has been serviced, to have no bill to pay. A complementary courtesy car is provided too.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

As with your car service contract, you can buy extended warranties for your washing machine and TV, buy peace of mind by having your central heating on a service contract, and protect yourself from unexpected costs caused by problems with water and sewage systems between your house and external services. Some will benefit and some will not, but on average these services are not good value for money – as Which? frequently points out to us. I think it is better to regard the courtesy car as part of the service you pay for rather than complimentary.

Member
Peter Lawley says:
17 June 2013

I got a pretty good deal from VW on our Golf, with a free service package included up to 30,000 miles or 3 years.
The service intervals were only at 10K, but when it went in for its 30K service, for a payment of only £50 the dealer changed the service intervals to long term 18K from then on, which means It won’t require another service until after our current lease contract ends next at 45K.

Profile photo of griffbanbury
Member

Three years ago I bought an Astra estate with 1.7CDTi diesel engine which had “great economy with low emissions”. The Vauxhall brochure also claimed the following fuel consumption: urban 50.4 mpg; extra urban 72.4 mpg; combined 62.8mpg. However gently I drive the car, whether locally or long distance, I cannot get fuel consumption below 52 mpg. I queried this discrepancy with the Vauxhall dealer. The checked with Vauxhalls who said my consumption was average for this engine and that I should expect 43.5 mpg for urban driving and 55 mpg for motorway or higher speed driving. My previous Astra estate had a 1.6 petrol engine and averaged over 40 mpg. Need I say more?

Member
Sue says:
13 June 2013

I bought my VW Passat 7 years ago and it’s now 13 years old. It has done just over 250,000 miles which is nothing these days for a well-maintained diesel engine. There are lots of reasons I like Passats, and one is fuel economy – I get about 50mpg round the doors, and about 63mpg on a long journey. In the time I’ve had it, apart from things like tyres, all I’ve replaced is the alternator and the steering arms at around 230,000 miles. I get hammered for tax because it’s a diesel and it’s ‘old’, but I can’t afford to replace it for another 5 years – though why replace such a reliable car anyway, until I have to?!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I’ve a 20 year old diesel Renault Espace which turns in the mid 40s mpg. It is a fairly simple car and most things easy to maintain. In just 150 000 miles it has had a steering rack and pump and radiator. I reckon servicing, including brakes, tyres, cambelts and batteries have cost 12.2p / mile. It’s versatile – from 7 seats down to a respectable load carrier. A family friend.

I’m not concerned about style. My vote would be to make items that need replacing properly accessible. One fault on the old Espace is when the heater fan resistor board fails, you’ve a lot of dismantling to do – so just stick with fast speed. And why on my newer version do you have to take the front of the car off to get to the alternator?
Replacing cambelts, waterpumps, screenwash pumps, headlight (and sidelight) bulbs, can make replaceable items very expensive in labour. I’d campaign to make anything that is likely to need replacing easily accessible.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

It is worth trying different fuels to get more mpg. Shell V-Power has worked out cheaper than regular due to more mpg. Noticed this had changed to V-Power Nitro last fill up and was pleasantly surprised to get another 45 miles out of the tank.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I think we need proper trials. I get bigger differences that this when filling up with the same fuel at the same pump.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I’ve tried the diesel – around 5% more expensive, but I wouldn’t be confident I got 5% more mpg. Difficult to replicate the same drive. I do buy it when I visit Shell on the basis that it helps clean the engine – am I being duped?
I think Which did some tests a couple of years ago and found then the “better” grades were not more economical. I think Honest John rates them though. A test programme for Which members?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Malcolm

I’m sure you will remember when it was standard practice to decarbonise engines every 30,000 miles and change oil every few thousand miles. If buying a more expensive fuel did give significant benefits in fuel consumption or avoiding engine problems, I’m sure that this would be well known by every motorist. There may be a benefit in using a higher octane rating than necessary in a petrol engine but like you I have driven diesel vehicles for years and I am not up-to-date.

Increasing the content of biodiesel in road fuel could conceivably result in significant differences between brands and if the motorist is faced with expensive damage or even ‘diesel bug’, that could make petrol engines a more economical option.

The only time I have deliberately paid extra for fuel was when low sulphur diesel was an option. As an asthmatic who is strongly affected by sulphur dioxide I was desperate to hasten phasing out of the old fuel.

Member
Peter Lawley says:
17 June 2013

In my experience on diesel fuel, you would have to do an enormous amount of miles each year to recoup the difference in cost between the supermarket fuels and the so-called premium fuels offered by Shell and others.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Peter, on MPG (l/100km!) I’d agree. It depends whether you believe that additives and the claims made for them benefit your engine; there are informed opinions that some supermarket fuels lack additives that are beneficial.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Road fuels have to comply with British Standards and perhaps we would know by now if the manufacturers were cheating us or if substandard fuel was on sale. I don’t doubt the claims that the premium fuels have additives that may be beneficial, but if there was evidence that cheaper fuels were blocking injectors, causing (engine) fuel pump failures or creating other costly damage on a regular basis, we would know by now.

The motor manufacturers need to collaborate closely with fuel producers to ensure that standard fuels on sale are fit for their purpose. This will be particularly important when the biodiesel component of diesel road fuels in increased for good environmental reasons.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

wavechange, I’m not suggesting supoermarket fuels don’t meet BS or are substandard, only that “premium” fuels may (do is claimed) have extra additives that are beneficial to engine longevity and performance. Honest John strongly advises using them. Premium fuels additive packages definitely makes them far superior to any fuel from a supermarket. “Most fuelling system problems reported to me are by readers who have been using supermarket fuels” (HJ). Search on his website under AskHJ.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I was certainly not criticising your comments, Malcolm. I was just adding some relevant information.

I would trust independent tests commissioned by an independent organisation such as Which? What motoring journalists, car magazines and fuel manufacturers have to say is interesting but not necessarily reliable information.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

wavechange, not taken as criticism. In the (current) absence of fact about premium fuels I was pointing to someone who has experience and generally comes up with sound information, It is slightly off topic, except that for those who run cars to high mileage (I do) it may be a sound investment and reduce overall costs.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Information about high mileage cars is obviously most useful in establishing the benefits of premium fuels.

In addition to considerations of economy and reliability of engine components, the evolution of the diesel engine is another consideration. Some modern diesel engines are known to be more demanding about fuel they burn, and can be expensive to fix if problems arise. I won’t go into detail but it’s fairly easy to find information about this.

Completely unrelated, but a possible unforeseen cost of running a modern diesel car is cost of replacing a blocked diesel particulate filter (DPF). When I bought a diesel last year I was warned that it would not be suitable for lots of short journeys.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

wavechange, you have been told correctly – you need to get the DPF up to a temperature that will burn off the residual diesel, I understand. So journeys of around 10 miles at least recommended. More of a case these days for petrol cars, particularly as they become more economical.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I was aware of the problem and would have switched to petrol if I was still commuting 1.7 miles to work each day, but it was a bit of a surprise when the salesman gave me a leaflet explaining the need to do periodic longer journeys at higher speed so that the cleaning process DPF is effective. I do at least one 50 mile round trip a week and so far the warning light showing an urgent need for a high speed run has stayed off. There is no soot on the tail pipe and I don’t even know when a cleaning cycle is occurring.

I’m sure that a petrol car makes sense for someone who drives less than 10,000 miles a year, but it’s just a daft personal preference and if I keep the car for ten years or more it will probably not cost me much more.

Member
Guy says:
15 June 2013

Mercedes offer a service plan to spread the cost of servicing evenly across the months of ownership – this was a good deal until they decided to increase the cost of servicing for second hand cars by 23%

Member
Bill Foulkes says:
16 June 2013

I had a Rover 400 auto with a Honda engine and gearbox. I bought it when it was 3 years old and kept it until it was 13 years old. In all that time it very rarely needed repairs except for normal day to day things like tyres etc. It never let me down and on motorways and trunk road running I could get nearly 40 mpg, with local mileage working out at 34 mpg. I only got rid of it because It blew a head gasket and shortly after that started overheating again. (Cracked head or block?) It was also getting difficult to get Rover parts. After looking at Which? reports i bought a 3 year old Mazda 3. Unfortunately i did not check the mpg figure. The best that I can get from it is 30 mpg even on motorway driving which I consider pretty bad. I have been told that this is the sort of figure I can reasonably expect. Do I regret buying Mazda? You can bet your boots I do!

Member
Peter Lawley says:
17 June 2013

What is the latest advice on the break – even point as between diesel and petrol engine running costs? It used to be argued that if you averaged around 12,000 miles a year, you were better off running a petrol engined car, whilst any higher and a diesel represented better value.
Is that still the case ?

Member
Dr C Fleming says:
17 June 2013

There are NO good environmental reasons for biodiesel. Vast areas of food-producing agricultural land are being lost due this fad..the change of use is being driven by financial considerations only. TYhe result is starvation for whole populations!!!

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

That might be the basis of another discussion. Trying to remain on topic, the introduction of biodiesel into road fuel is a relevant but not obvious consideration in the choice of a vehicle.

Member
richjbuk says:
17 June 2013

Bought a VW Polo auto and was terribly disappointed in the mpg compared with the manufacturers figures. Can’t recall the numbers but a big difference.

Member
JohnW says:
17 June 2013

After years of owning VAG cars, I decided to buy a Mazda. The fuel costs were huge but the main problem was that just about any part I needed, had to come from a main dealer. I’d been used to nipping down to Swedish & German for spares and it came as a bit of a shock.

Member
Richard Davis says:
18 June 2013

Deciding that I had finally had enough of ever-rising prices for fuel, I traded in my diesel car for an all-electric Nissan Leaf. Although expensive to buy, the operating costs have dropped massively for everything except insurance. Every time I drive past a petrol station I have a laugh at the prices and say “No thanks” – well, perhaps not exactly those words, but you get the idea! I can’t see me ever going back to a ICE car (Internal Combustion Engine) in the future.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Does that include budgeting for a replacement battery (or battery leasing costs)? I have heard a lot of talk about electric vehicles but don’t know one person who has taken the plunge.

Member
Best Goifer says:
18 June 2013

Did you pay around £10,000 etc for an electric car as comparable to an equivalent Petrol and Diesel Car? On top of this there will be the cost of replacing the battery in a few years time. I am not sure how long the batteries last and how much they cost to replace. Probably around £5,000. Apart from the cost of car another major point is the range of electric cars. As i understand it its only about 50 miles unless you do not use any electrics in the car, for example AC in summer and heater in Winter etc. I think currently electric cars are OK for people with a lot of spare money and who do not mind the hassle of charging the car every day or so. Imagine if they forget to charge their car and realise they have to go urgently somewhere. I won’t be laughing too much on people driving Petrol and Diesel cars yet. Give it another 15 years and then may be.

Give it another 15 years and then i will start thinking of using an electric car.

Member
Peter Lawley says:
18 June 2013

I wonder how many miles it will take to recoup the massive extra costs of an all-electric vehicle – even allowing for the Govt. cash back subsidy, and how long the batteries will last ?
If you take into account the development and manufacturing costs of all-electric cars, plus the generating costs of power, I don’t see how they can ever be truly economical to run.
Add to that the dreaded range anxiety of only around 80 miles at best and a charge time of many hours, I’m afraid I don’t see the point.
GM / Vauxhall may have it partly solved with the Ampera / Volt models (same mechanicals different bodies) whereby the petrol engine charges the batteries whilst you are on the go, so no range anxiety, and you always drive ‘electrically’ but, again, given the cost, you would have to do an awful lots of miles per annum to justify.
The long term solution is going to be in more and more efficient ICE vehicles, with possibly a smattering of diesel hybrids around as well, once they can get the particulate pollution problem in cities sorted out.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I was wondering if we might be going off at a tangent discussing electric cars but the URL for this page mentions diesel-electric hybrid even if the introduction does not. 🙂

As far as all-electric cars go, I think the problem is trying to produce a car with a high speed and long range capability. A small electric car with a top speed of 40 mph might be just the job as a second car for those living in built-up areas.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Feel free to talk about that, thanks.

Member
George says:
19 June 2013

I drive a Skoda Octavia (diesel) and having previously had VW Passats (both petrol and diesel), I am seriously impressed with the Skoda’s performance, both mechanically and fuel efficiency wise. The build quality is also pretty good in comparison to others and, to date, I have had no need for repairs to the car, having owned it for the last 4 years.
Having worked in the oil industry for virtually all of my working life, I am really annoyed at the fact that diesel is more expensive than petrol, yet it is much cheaper to produce. So the price we pay is purely down to profiteering on the part of the oil companies/retailers.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

George, the argument I’ve heard is that it is supply and demand. There is a limited amount of the refined products that can produce diesel and allied oil for heating – the demand for the latter affects the price of diesel. So presumably depends on how cold the winter is. Is this a smokescreen?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Malcolm – I remember reading exactly the same, but it was quite a few years ago. At one time there was a different grade of diesel supplied (for road use at least) in the colder months, but that seems to be history. Assuming that petrol and diesel are produced by the same companies, they can choose how to price their products irrespective of cost to produce as long as their competitors decide to use a similar strategy.

Member
Steve P says:
20 June 2013

I slightly regret buying a six year old VW Passat V6 Syncro about ten years ago. It had been my company car from new, and I was very pleased with it, but tax changes made it more sensible to own privately. However, it cost a lot to run and servicing was very expensive, so I reluctantly sold it. I then had a Skoda Octavia for several years, which was much more economical. I now have a VW Tiguan (2.0 Diesel 140 PS, 4-Motion with DSG) and it’s a great car, but even driving quite moderately I only get 40.1 mpg compared with 44.3 on the trip computer and 44.1 on VW’s data. My figure is based on two years of brimming the tank and logging every litre, so I do have a very accurate (if rather anal) figure, some 10% worse than the official one (which doesn’t surprise me).

Member
Gerry Brown says:
5 July 2013

I have a pre-owned Jaguar S-Type purchased from a dealer in Devon in April 2008 as we lived in Exeter at the time. I had one subsequent service done there that left me totally amazed and financially bruised, and after that experience decided not to return. We subsequently moved to Surrey and for a number of years all work on the car was done by a local Skoda garage who were outstanding, and when there was additional work required, did it swiftly, professionally and at a realistic cost.

As we had moved back to the South West, I decided to take a flyer and return to the original dealer for the annual service and MOT inspection. Big mistake! The £129 service and MOT inspection turned into a £3000 bill.

The comment from the service manager, when I expressed incredulity at this outrageous cost, was “that it was all down to wear and tear.” While I’m not naïve and can understand that parts do wear out, the totally unrealistic and almost criminal cost of labour to replace them beggars belief. In particular; £460 to replace the suspension arms, £575 to replace a £45 pipe brake, £350 to replace front and rear brakes and £115 to re-gas the A/C, which I subsequently had an offer by email to do for “free”.

These dealers think that all Jaguar owners have more money than brains and they can rip them off at will. Clearly I’ve proved them right – this time. There won’t be a next. While we generally don’t think much of what the EU does, it’s clearly time for a commission to be set-up to look at repair costs and put some of these overcharging clowns out of business! I’ll also be pursuing this with the OFT.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I use an independent mechanic – ex Renault – for our Espace. His approach is to take the car for MoT, and repair anything that is modest in cost. Otherwise he phones me with a price. He apologised last time when he had to replace the rear brake discs and pads – the discs also combine wheel bearings – because it was going to cost £324 including the MoT, collection and delivery. I’m not unhappy with that attitude!
Best thing with an MoT is put it in for test only, then if it fails look at quotes for putting things right.