James Ruppert: MOT heroes and villains
Vauxhall Viva has a good record for passing its MOT
Looking for a motor that won’t bring an annual surge of dread? See what’s likely to fail its yearly check-up
I’ve been slightly involved with a national newspaper doing a freedom of information request when it comes to MOT test failures. I provided some of the comments on what the stats revealed and it bears repetition. These are 2015 cars that had their first MOT last year and there needed to be at least 5000 tests for that particular model.
Without printing out a boring table, let’s dig into the results. My eye is drawn to the models least likely to fail and yet again it is a win for the older buyers with their favourite little runabout, the Honda Jazz. They love them and look after them. The real surprise is the Vauxhall Viva, a model that is mostly invisible in the marketplace, but again oldies remember the name from the 1960s and 1970s, buy ’em and then make sure they are looked after.
The Hyundai i20 is another old favourite, an inoffensive car that just gets on with the job and has a suitably reassuring warranty, so yet another one to tempt private buyers, especially the more mature ones.
Good news, then, for Audi with the TT, A1 and Q3 taking the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, and the Q5 making an entry at number nine. These are costly cars usually bought by companies or people who can afford to run them, so no real surprise there. The SUV invasion is confirmed, because there are strong showings from the Mercedes GLA, Honda CR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan.
At the troublesome end of the table, the first two entries from Citroën and Ford on the list of those most likeautoly to fail are hard-working people-carriers, the C4 Grand Picasso and Galaxy, which lead tough lives, sometimes as taxis. The Dacia Sandero, however, is marketed as a bargain buy, but a low price seems to suggest low quality and more breakdowns. It may also be cheapskates skimping on regular maintenance. The appearance of the VW Passat at number four is a surprise because they rack up huge mileages.
The Jaguar XF is getting older and more fragile and its complicated running gear makes it a regular MOT failure in sixth position. Citroën’s long-term reputation is not great and sibling brand DS is also in the mix, with the 3. Hard-used Vauxhall Insignias scrape in at 10 and that also explains the Nissan Micra at nine, a generally reliable car that is worked hard and then neglected.
Used car owners’ surveys tell you nothing whereas actual stats like these give used car buyers some very useful guidance. Buy this, be careful with that and know what to avoid.
What we almost bought this week
Alfa Romeo 146 2.0 TI: Not the prettiest thing but it’s an Alfa with a sweet gearchange and a raspy Twin Spark engine capable of 0-62mph in just over 8sec. Rust? It has a galvanised body. We’d be more concerned about the electrics, which can give trouble. Old 146s are getting pricey now, with this 80,000- mile, 1997 P-reg costing £2950. Still, it’s a classic, right?
Tales from Ruppert’s garage
Mini Cooper, mileage – 103,092: Panel gaps were never a strong point for BMC and that seems to dog its cars even today. Witness my Mini. The driver’s door in particular seems to have only a casual acquaintance with the bodywork in which it is supposed to fit. I don’t think there is a lot I can do, apart from muck about with some of the door hinge bolts. I have been doing this with little effect, although there is no chance of me falling out because it never pops open. The Lorry is a bit similar, but it just needs a heroic slam to secure.
Toyota Yaris: We welcome back Darren Smith: “You featured my Yaris 121,000 miles back and I thought I’d let you know it’s still going strong, at nearly 150,000 miles. All it has had is a new exhaust, a bit of welding on the driver’s side rear jacking point and routine servicing.
“It gets serviced every 10,000 miles, is washed regularly and takes me to France once a year and Norwich a lot. It’s got such character. I love the freaky 3D dashboard and it’s nippy and so good on fuel. What is it with these Toyotas? They just keep on going…”
Question: The trouble with the Goodwood Festival of Speed is that it’s over for another year. Where can I get another fix of high-octane motors this summer? Barry Harkness, Bristol
Answer: Look no further than Car Fest South, Chris Evans’ annual festival of cars, food and music held at Laverstoke Park Farm near Winchester, Hampshire. This year, it takes place on 23-25 August. In addition to the track, which incorporates a re-creation of Monaco’s Swimming Pool section, the organisers promise there’ll be two paddocks brimming with cars of all types and a 60th anniversary tribute to the Mini, plus the festival’s traditional motor show of new models. Visit carfest.org. John Evans
Question: Is it sensible to buy a Vauxhall Insignia 1.8 VVT converted to run on LPG? It’s eight years and 61k miles old and is £4995. Greg Mitchett, Solihull
Answer: It’s £1000 more than a standard 1.8 but you’ll save 66 pence per litre on fuel. You say you cover 12k miles per year: at 35mpg, that’s £1019 in LPG compared with £2003 in petrol. An LPG location app will make it easy to find one of the 1400 or so LPG filling locations. Insurance and maintenance costs may be a little higher, but hang onto the car, do the mileage and it looks like a sensible move. John Evans
Source: Autocar Online