My Astra GTC VXR's engine has failed; shouldn't Vauxhall pay to fix it?

A reader's low-mileage hot hatch suffers engine failure, so he asks if Vauxhall shouldn't foot more than a third of the bill for a new engine...

Vauxhall Astra VXR

I bought a 64-plate Vauxhall Astra GTC VXR from the Alba Motor Company in Edinburgh in April 2018. It’s only had two previous owners and has currently done less than 29,000 miles. 

However, I had to take it into my local Vauxhall garage, Tustain Motors in Hawick, for examination work four weeks ago, because it had begun to misfire. The garage took the cylinder head off and then told me a piston had cracked and that I needed a new engine. 

They applied to Vauxhall for a goodwill payment and were told that Vauxhall would pay 30% towards the cost of the repairs, leaving me with a bill of £5000. There's no way I can afford to pay this. So I tried contacting Vauxhall’s customer care department to see if they would cover more of the cost, because the car has low mileage so shouldn’t have suffered such a major engine problem. 

I’ve had a black box fitted to it for insurance purposes, so I can prove that I’ve not been driving it recklessly. As far as I’m aware, it has full service history and has passed every MOT test. Is there anything you can do to help me get a bigger contribution from Vauxhall? 

Alistair Hill 

What Car? says…

We didn’t think it sounded right that a fairly new car with a low mileage should suffer such catastrophic engine damage, so we got in touch with Vauxhall to ask it to look into the case. 

At the same time, we asked Alistair about his car’s service history, and that’s when he realised there had been a mix-up with the car’s servicing. 

When Alistair had bought the car from Alba Motors, he believed it had just been serviced. However, he didn’t check this and it turned out that the car hadn’t been serviced; it was due its next service in August 2018. 

Alistair also told us that he’d swapped the service plan he had with his previous car, a Vauxhall Corsa, over to the VXR. This lets him pay for the car’s maintenance in monthly instalments, spreading the cost. He believed he would get a text reminder when the car’s service was due, because this is what had happened with the Corsa. However, this didn’t happen, and it was only when he was going through the VXR's paperwork to check the service history for us that he realised his mistake. 

During this time, Tustain offered to pay 5% towards the repair bill, increasing the total contribution to 35%. 

In order to decide if it could make a bigger contribution, Vauxhall’s customer services department told Alistair it would need to see the car’s service history to check that servicing had been done according to its guidelines and on time. 

When the mix-up with the servicing – and the lack of a service in August 2018 – came to light, Vauxhall said it wouldn't be able to offer a bigger contribution. However, it did say it would honour the 30% already offered. So Alistair went ahead with getting the car fixed. 

We've advised him that he may be able to claim some compensation from the service plan provider because it didn't inform him the service was due, and he's looking into the possibility of this, too. 

The best coupés and the ones to avoid

Coupés are all about image and style; they're designed to look great and get heads turning as you drive by. Not long ago, such cars were often very expensive to buy and run, but more and more affordable coupés have come onto the market in recent years.

Coupés can also be practical and efficient to run, but the main focus is always on appearance. Here, we give our recommendations on the best coupés to buy right now and the ones to avoid at all costs.

10. Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar F-Type Coupe

There's no doubt that the F-Type is a stunner, and if you pick one with the peppy 3.0-litre V6 engine, it'll be highly entertaining. It's not the best coupé to drive, though, and neither the manual nor automatic gearboxes are as slick as those of rivals. 

Read our full Jaguar F-Type review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers

9. Bentley Continental GT

2018 Bentley Continental GT – pricing, specs and release date

The Continental GT conjures up rose-tinted images of what driving used to be like, when the roads were empty and the super-rich would blast across Europe to get to their second home on the Riviera. And yet this car was actually the first truly modern Bentley.

With a 6.0-litre W12 engine that drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the Continental GT is massively and effortlessly fast. Unfortunately, it's also hugely expensive to buy and run. 

BMW 4 Series Coupe

Few coupés can match the all-round abilities of BMW's 4 Series. This is a car that looks great, is perfectly practical and has room for four inside. It may feature many of the same interior fixtures and fittings as the smaller 3 Series, but that's hardly a bad thing, and you also get the option of BMW's excellent iDrive infotainment and navigation set-up.

Read our full BMW 4 Series coupé review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers

Next: more of our favourite coupés >

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