As the cost of living crisis bites, the need to keep your car properly maintained is more important than ever. Skimping on services may seem like a saving, but it can cost you dearly in the medium term if a simple problem develops into a more costly or even terminal issue later.
And if you break down without proper cover, especially on a motorway, you could face a huge bill. Even brand new cars can have their teething problems. So going without cover, even as costs rise through inflation, could ultimately prove a false economy.
Consumer group Which? has just published research into the breakdown service sector, awarding marks for value for money, speed and ability to fix a problem on the spot.
Better safe than sorry: A call-out by the AA sees a spare tyre installed
Relative newcomer Start Rescue and the long-standing AA scored highest overall — 74 per cent and 73 per cent respectively.
The survey revealed that: seven in ten AA callouts arrived within an hour; AA patrols resolved the highest percentage of breakdown callouts at home or at the roadside (more than eight out of ten); 89 per cent of customers were satisfied with service and 88 per cent said they would recommend it.
Surprisingly, the rival RAC scored a low 51 per cent — let down mainly by poor response times with four in ten customers waiting more than an hour for help. On the plus side Which? noted that RAC mechanics resolved 69 per cent of breakdowns at the roadside, earned an ‘impressive’ five-star rating for their knowledge and, despite poor callout times, 79 per cent of customers said they would recommend the service.
Among those in between were Admiral (62 per cent); Axa (57 per cent) and Aviva (54 per cent). The Which? report urges motorists to check whether they can get, or even already have, cover from their car’s manufacturer noting: ‘Most new cars come with breakdown cover for a fixed term between one to three years.’
Read the small print to avoid paying for levels of cover you don’t need — or missing out on those you do.
AA chief executive Jakob Pfaudler said: ‘The cost of living crisis is hitting us all but it is still vital that drivers have breakdown cover. One tow off a motorway, if you don’t have cover, costs at least £150.
‘We are honoured that so many customers recommend our services. We hope to build on this success as we look to a future of further innovation and improvements in our services.’
But costs are likely to rise, he signalled: ‘We are determined to keep average renewal price increases below inflation, but do feel that new business pricing needs to start reflecting greater cost inflation more realistically.’
XE90 aims to become Volvo’s safest car ever
Pioneering Swedish car firm Volvo has for decades prided itself on safety innovations — from the first three-point seat belt to advances in airbag technology.
Now its new fully-electric flagship SUV model — the XE90 due for launch in November — aims to become its safest car ever.
It’s packed with features designed to save lives by creating an ‘invisible shield’ around the car with the help of 16 ultrasonic sensors, eight cameras, five radars and a laser-based lidar scanning system.
Safety first: Two cameras in the cabin monitor the driver’s eyes to see if they’re drowsy, ill, distracted or intoxicated
Two cameras in the cabin monitor the driver’s eyes to see if they’re drowsy, ill, distracted or intoxicated. If the driver is unresponsive to a series of alerts and vibrating ‘nudges’, the system will bring the car safely to a halt.
Volvo says it will reduce severe accidents by up to 20 per cent.
As part of its aim to have zero crash fatalities, Volvo has already limited speeds to 112mph.
Land Rover launches new Defender 75th Limited Edition
With a significant anniversary looming next year, Land Rover has launched a new Defender 75th Limited Edition.
It marks three-quarters of a century since the original 1948 Land Rover Series I was revealed at the Amsterdam Motor Show.
Land Rover said: ‘Available in 90 or 110 body styles, the Defender 75th Limited Edition has an exclusive exterior design, finished in Grasmere Green paint, with complementing wheels and interior finishes.’
The new Defender (pictured) marks three-quarters of a century since the original 1948 Land Rover Series I was revealed at the Amsterdam Motor Show
Prices start at £85,995 for the Defender 90, and £89,995 for the larger 110
They are available as a petrol P400e plug-in Electric Hybrid and as a diesel D300 mild hybrid
Prices start at £85,995 for the Defender 90, and £89,995 for the larger 110.
They are available as a petrol P400e plug-in Electric Hybrid and as a diesel D300 mild hybrid.
It comes as industrialist Sir Jim Ratcliffe is about to launch his own INEOS Grenadier 4×4 rival which harks back to the spirit of the original Defender.
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