The annual Which? Reliability survey has been released and the consumer watchdog is now calling for automotive makers to act as it found that some of the UK’s most popular cars have dangerous and costly manufacturing faults.

With some of these faults, there’s also a huge environmental impact with the disposal and if not addressed by the manufacturer, could be at a huge cost to the motorist.

Which? Surveyed 44,000 drivers covering 52,000 makes of car, asking them about any incidents they’d had with their car in the past year, including breakdowns and recurring issues.

Qashqai falling short

The Nissan Qashqai, the 4th most popular new car bought last year and the most popular SUV, had a battery issue affecting one in five drivers. 20% of those surveyed had broken down in the past year due to an issue with their battery, which is four to five times higher than the average for a car of that age.

Nissan is aware of this issue and switched its battery supplier back in 2018, but there is still potential for around 60,000 people if not more who could be affected by this. As the batteries are lead-acid, this has huge ramifications for the environment due to the way they are disposed of. Car batteries have to be disposed of in certain ways, and someone who doesn’t hold a certificate can be prosecuted for trying to recycle or dispose of them.

The Qashqai also had an issue on it’s Body Control Module affecting cars built between April 2018 and February 2019, which Nissan say they have created an update and campaign for, but there are most likely cars out there that are still affected.

Nissan said “We’re aware of some incidences of battery failure and have taken steps to address this issue, including replacing our battery supplier, and voluntarily launching a campaign to update the Body Control Module software on Qashqais made between April 2018 and February 2019. We’re working with affected customers.”

It’s a Tesla nightmare!

Tesla, one of the most loved cars on the survey, also had more than one in five people (22.2%) reporting issues with their Model 3’s exterior features. Faults including ones affecting door handles, boot openings and fuel caps, all meant that the car had almost 10 times more faults than an average car of the same age.

One in ten Tesla Model X owners also reported faults, which Which? Attributes to an inherent design flaw. Across all brands surveyed Tesla had the highest percentage of cars in the three to eight-year bracket reporting faults, with 67% of owners affected by some fault.

Tesla said “We review every vehicle before it leaves the factory. Our warranties cover any repairs and replacements necessary for door handles for up to four years. Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla can perform repair work via mobile service, which can be done at a customer’s home or office.”

More issues uncovered

The Seat Alhambra had nearly three in ten owners complaing of faults to do with their exhaust or emission system. More than a fifth (22.9%) of Alhambra owners also said they had an issue with their suspension system in cars in the same age group – nearly five times higher than the average car.

Seat said: Seat UK is concerned but, without details, we can’t identify and explain these results. A comprehensive warranty covering three years/60,000 miles is provided. Our service data will identify the need for workshop campaigns, which are issued as promptly as possible.

Older car models like the Ford B-Max also reported alarmingly high fault rates. 25% of automatic B-Max owners said they had a problem with their “Powershift” automatic transmission system.

Ford said: We’re aware of these issues and have previously updated our dealership network to resolve them for customers. We also extended the warranty for affected cars from three to five years/60,000 to 100,00 miles. Where owners aren’t covered, our Ford customer relationship centre (see ford.co.uk) will assess each individually on a favourable goodwill basis.

Similarly, nearly a quarter of BMW 5 Series Touring drivers said they had experienced a number of issues with their suspension.

BMW said: BMW conducts continuous quality surveillance of our in-market vehicles. Only a tiny fraction of customer contacts in the first half of 2019 were related to suspension issues of any kind; fewer than six in 10,000, across all our models, make any reference to suspension issues. If any customer wishes to discuss concerns, they can call BMW Customer Service.

Hefty motoring bills

When Which? Presented these findings to the manafacturers, most said that these issues would likely be fixed under the warranty. However their data showed that most of these issues were noticed outside of the manafacturer warranty period, leaving motorsists with a hugely expensive bill.

Which? Are calling for manafacturers to go public with these faults and issue a recall for the cars affected. While some issues are not fatal, it is at the best interest of the company to fix these issues and do so for free, according to Which?

Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said:

“It is concerning that it has taken Which?’s survey of thousands of motorists to uncover what are in some cases inherent flaws with some of the UK’s best-selling cars. Owners should be able to trust that manufacturers will make them aware of these issues and offer a fix when they see a recurring problem.”

“It is vital these manufacturers make the public aware of these serious faults and ensure vehicle owners are not left out of pocket should the issues occur outside their warranty.”

Is your car affected? Would you want to know if your car had a manafacturing fault? Let us know below

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