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Motor Mouth articles 2011

Keep it simple to avoid problems

Renault Megane: electrical gremlins

I HAVE long subscribed to the idea that, the more bells and whistles a car has got, the more there is to go wrong.

Simple is often the best – indeed Mrs Mouth is living proof of the theory.

Thrusting young techno addicts may think these are the prehistoric ravings of a Luddite but years of bitter, expensive experience have taught me that anything electrical or electronic (whatever the difference is) is liable to go wrong and cost big bucks.

And now my belief has been solidly backed up by a report from Warranty Direct, who say that electrical faults now account for 27% of all car breakdowns – up by 17% on five years ago.

A spokesman says: “It is perhaps unsurprising, with cars increasingly packed full of technical wizardry. Nearly four in 10 cars go wrong each year and electrical problems are among the most common causes of breakdown, with repair bills running as high as £2,500.

“Electrical faults are extremely common and the amount of computer technology we demand in our new cars today is to blame. We pay a huge number of claims to fix highly complex systems such as the electronic control units at the heart of modern cars. These are often problematic to put right and owners can end up visiting expensive franchised dealers to fix faults.”

Warranty Direct’s statistics show that the car most likely to suffer an electrical fault is the Renault Megane, with a staggering one in three sustaining a malfunction each year.

While the Megane is not particularly renowned for its gadgetry, the French hatchback’s electrical gremlins contribute to an overall failure rate of 50%, The luxuriously appointed Peugeot 607 and BMW Z4, with its clever folding roof, come close behind as the cars next most likely to ‘short circuit’.

The other cars in the list of the worst 10 are the Renault Modus, Audi A2, Range Rover, Land Rover Discovery, Audi A3, Smart Roadster and Audi A4 Convertible.

The list, compiled by Warranty Direct using data from the 50,000 policies, certainly seems to indicate a real issue with European cars. There isn’t an Asian model to be seen, yet there is no shortage of electronic clever stuff on Hondas, Toyotas and the others.

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