What Car?'s top reader stories of 2019

We answer thousands of reader questions each year, providing advice and helping owners of faulty cars to get redress from car makers. Here are some of the most popular stories from the past year...

Renault Megane RS askwhatcar

Shouldn’t my Renault warranty cover bodywork issue?

I bought a nearly new Renault Mégane RS GT Nav 1.6 TCe from Renault London in September 2018. The car had 3500 miles on the clock then; it’s now up to 14,500 miles. It came with four years’ warranty.

Unfortunately, the car has had two problems. The first was a knocking sound from underneath when I drove it over uneven road surfaces and speed humps. This was identified by my local Renault dealership, Jaybee Motors Banbury, as a damaged anti-roll bar link. Although I was initially told this part was out of stock, a replacement part has now been sourced and fitted. 

The second issue is a poor-fitting driver's door which creates additional wind noise. It has been like this since I bought the car, and I was told by the selling dealer that this would be fixed under warranty. So, I recently took the car to an authorised repair agent, who said they believed the door had not been correctly adjusted by the Renault factory.

The following day, however, I was told that the Renault UK warranty only covers such adjustments if they are done within the first 6000 miles or six months of ownership. Therefore, this would not be covered under warranty. 

I cannot find any such terms in their warranty, although the correct fitment of doors is covered. If this is the case and I had been told when I bought the car, I would have booked it in for repairs sooner.  

Have you heard of a new car warranty having such a time limit on cover? Surely Renault should cover the cost of fixing this problem as it has been diagnosed by an approved technician as a fault that occurred during the production process. 

Mike Saar

What Car? says...

We’ve not heard of a time limit being applied to bodywork repairs on new cars, so took the issue up with Renault on Mike’s behalf.

Although Renault UK declined to comment about the clause in the warranty cover, a representative got back to us the day after we contacted them to state that the cost of the repair work would be covered by the warranty. Mike went ahead with getting the door fixed, and the work – two hours labour at a total cost of around £220 – was completed for free.

Renault Megane RS askwhatcar

Mike subsequently managed to gain confirmation that there is no time limit on getting bodywork repairs done, but that the warranty terms appear to have been misunderstood by the dealer support team. 

Shouldn't Hyundai replace my leaky iX20?

Hyundai ix20

I bought a brand new Hyundai ix20 last April, and three months and just 1100 miles later I discovered it had a leak that was draining into the driver’s footwell, leaving the carpet sodden. 

I informed the supplying dealer straight away and opened a case with Hyundai UK’s customer services department. The dealer, Murley of Stratford-upon-Avon, took the car in for repair and replaced the driver’s door seal. I got the impression this was a shot in the dark.

It rained heavily the night I got the car back and the driver’s footwell was saturated again in the morning. I decided to reject the car and returned it to the dealer with both sets of keys and the logbook. I sent an email to the dealer, Hyundai UK and the finance company stating that the car was not of satisfactory quality and that the repair had failed. I also suggested that an appropriate resolution would be for me to receive a like-for-like replacement vehicle. 

I was initially given the impression that Hyundai UK was minded to replace the car. However, nearly a month after my rejection, the customer services team called me to state that although the car had a manufacturing defect, Hyundai UK couldn’t accept my rejection and the matter was the dealer’s responsibility. The reason I was given for this is that I’d accepted the dealer’s offer of a repair. However, I only did this on the advice of customer services. 

I believe that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, I was justified in exercising my right to reject the car when the repair failed. Moreover, it seems to me that Hyundai UK has a strong moral obligation to replace the car, because it has a manufacturing defect and the reason it has given for sidestepping responsibility suggests it’s penalising me for taking its advice.

I also feel I’m owed some goodwill as a loyal customer; this is the fifth Hyundai that I’ve purchased from main dealers in the past 10 years and the third new iX20 I’ve bought from Murley. I’ve also used Murley exclusively for all servicing and repairs for the past decade.

Chris Kennedy

What Car? says…

We looked into Chris’s case and agreed with his belief that he had the right to reject the car and get a like-for-like replacement. So, we contacted Hyundai UK to ask it to reconsider its decision. 

We heard back straight away with good news. A spokesperson said: “I’ve looked into Mr Kennedy’s case and have been informed that it’s standard practice for the responsibility to lie with the dealer if they have carried out a repair that hasn’t been successful. However, Hyundai UK has decided that it will look to swap Mr Kennedy’s car for a replacement vehicle. The team is currently looking into whether there is a suitable car in stock.”

Soon afterwards, Chris got back in touch to say he’d been offered the choice of a new white ix20 or a nearly new one in the same black as his previous car. He went for the new option. 

Should a high-mileage driver buy an electric car?

BMW i3 120Ah

I've decided to go electric, because I started a job a year ago with a 90-mile daily commute and my petrol costs have, of course, gone through the roof. I’m probably going to be doing this for the next four or five years, so I want to cut my fuel costs, and I’m also keen to reduce my presently huge carbon footprint.  

The Renault Zoe isn't for me and I found the Nissan Leaf very uncomfortable on a test drive. However, I love the BMW i3. I know that there are now other models with much longer ranges than the i3, but I don't like the look of either the Kia e-Niro or Hyundai Kona and I can't afford the Jaguar I-Pace or a Tesla.  

I'm not worried about the i3’s range – the 120Ah model has plenty for me – and my local BMW dealer is offering me what I think is a decent four-year PCP deal. However, you just don't hear about people driving an electric car 25,000 miles per year and taking the battery near to the 100,000-mile warranty limit.  Would I be taking too much of a risk?

Philip Gray

What Car? Says

We've heard of some people doing high annual mileages in electric cars that have been out for quite a few years, such as the original Leaf, and not suffering any bad consequences. 

In fact, in our latest Reliability Survey, electric and hybrid cars came out as the most dependable, with the i3 gaining a creditable 95.2% rating.

We'd therefore say it's not a massive risk to do 25,000 miles a year in an i3. Even so, you can take measures to protect the battery life, such as setting the charge limit at 80% rather than 100% and trying not to use the fastest chargers all the time, because they put more strain on the batteries. 

Tesla Model 3

You might also be able to consider the new Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, because it costs only around £6000 more to buy than the i3. In recent What Car? group tests, the Model 3 beat other electric models and conventionally powered alternatives, because it accelerates well, it's good to drive, it's well equipped and it retains its value far better than other electric cars.  

Like the i3, the Model 3 comes with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty for its battery. This not only covers the electrical bits against faults but also guarantees a minimum 70% retention of original battery capacity throughout its duration. 

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