Consumer watchdog says seven popular cars need to be recalled

A consumer watchdog has exposed seven popular cars for having the same recurring problems.

Which? said four well-known manufacturers should immediately recall specific models after its reliability survey found that a high proportion of owners reported the same faults, which indicates ‘serious production issues’.

It found that each of these models have a single, prolific issues – from faulty batteries to flawed fuel systems resulting in widespread breakdowns – and manufacturers are showing a ‘blatant disregard for their customers’ by not recalling them. 

Four of the seven cars highlighted are British-built: Nissan’s Qashqai and Juke produced in Sunderland and the Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Sport assembled in Solihull.

'A blatant disregard for customers': Consumer watchdog Which? has slammed four car makers for failing to recall models with known common problems

'A blatant disregard for customers': Consumer watchdog Which? has slammed four car makers for failing to recall models with known common problems

‘A blatant disregard for customers’: Consumer watchdog Which? has slammed four car makers for failing to recall models with known common problems

The remaining three cars earmarked to be recalled by Which? are the Nissan Pulsar, BMW 5 Series Touring and Tesla Model S.

All seven stood out in the results of the consumer group’s survey – one of the biggest vehicle reliability polls in the UK – completed by almost 50,000 drivers.

And to make matters worse, three of the models – the Nissan Qashqai, Tesla Model S and BMW 5 Series Touring – were found to have exactly the same faults as when the consumer champion conducted its reliability survey last year. 

Despite sharing the information of the research with car makers, Nissan, Tesla and BMW have failed to recalled these problematic cars.

Who is responsible for vehicle recalls? 

If a problem with a car could result in drivers, passengers and other road users being at risk, a safety recall will need to be issued.

The Driver and Standards Agency (DVSA) overseas all safety recalls, and motorists are told to contact the agency if they believe their motor has a potentially life-threatening fault.  

Once a fault has been identified, the DVSA’s team of engineers discuss potential fixes with car makers.

Car brands are then legally obliged to inform the DVSA if they identify safety-related problems, and a recall is issued if the fault is likely to affect the ‘safe operation’ of the car or ‘may pose a significant risk to the driver, occupants and others’.

However, all other types of recalls – essentially those that are deemed not to be safety related, such as problems with a touchscreen – are at the discretion of manufacturers. 

By failing to recall these cars and resolving these common issues for free, manufacturers are allowing these vehicles to remain faulty on the road, with owners having to incur the costs to have known problems repaired. 

That said, Nissan has taken steps to address the issue including replacing its part supplier. It also contacted 35,000 potentially affected Qashqai owners about getting a free update for their vehicle.

But neither BMW, Land Rover and Tesla has gone as far as issuing a recall, while some have tried to deny there is any issue at all. 

Which? called their actions a ‘blatant disregard for their customers’ which could leave large numbers of motorists facing hefty repair bills once the car comes out of warranty. 

The consumer champion is calling on the manufacturers to issue a recall on the affected models – to alert drivers that their car could have a significant fault. This approach would also ensure a pre-emptive fix is made available for free, whether the car is under warranty or not.

Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, said it is ‘completely unacceptable’ that trusted car brands ‘continue to take customer cash without fixing these widespread faults – many of which are already well-known thanks to our comprehensive survey of UK motorists’.

He added: ‘Currently, car owners will have to foot the bill for faults once their car goes out of warranty, but it is not right for anyone to have to pay for production mistakes that these manufacturers are aware of.

‘If you are concerned your car might be unreliable, make sure you’re with a breakdown service you can trust and the next time you’re in the market for a new car, consider steering clear of these unreliable models.’ 

Annoyances with Nissans

Which? found that three of the seven cars that owners reported as having a single prolific fault are from Nissan; the current Qashqai SUV built from 2014 to present, Pulsar hatchback (2014-2018) and previous-generation Juke (2010-2019) all being repeatedly reported as having a common fault.

The Qashqai has for over a decade been the best-selling SUV in the UK.

Feedback from owners showed that it not only scored the worst breakdown rate for any car less than three years old, it had a common fault across cars.

One in five (21 per cent) of these keepers said they had needed to replace the battery in the previous 12 months – leaving most unable to start their car.

Nissan has taken steps to address the issue including replacing its part supplier. It also contacted 35,000 potentially affected Qashqai owners about getting a free update for their vehicle

Nissan has taken steps to address the issue including replacing its part supplier. It also contacted 35,000 potentially affected Qashqai owners about getting a free update for their vehicle

Nissan has taken steps to address the issue including replacing its part supplier. It also contacted 35,000 potentially affected Qashqai owners about getting a free update for their vehicle

The Pulsar, which is no longer sold in the UK, suffers the same battery-related issues as the Qashqai

The Pulsar, which is no longer sold in the UK, suffers the same battery-related issues as the Qashqai

The Pulsar, which is no longer sold in the UK, suffers the same battery-related issues as the Qashqai

The less popular Pulsar was also exposed as having a significant battery issue, reported by three in 10 (28 per cent) of car owners with a vehicle aged between three and eight years old. 

Based on the Which? survey, its battery problems are five times more likely to occur than an average vehicle of this age. Those surveyed said the car failed to start in virtually every case.

The repeating problem with the Juke wasn’t battery related.

Instead, one in five owners (20 per cent) of diesel examples between three and eight-years-old reported a problem with the fuel system. 

In half of cases, owners reported the car breaking down, failing to start or told Which? they had found the car was unsafe to drive. 

Fuel system issues appear to be riddling previous-generation Nissan Jukes - a fault that can be very pricey to have fixed

Fuel system issues appear to be riddling previous-generation Nissan Jukes - a fault that can be very pricey to have fixed

Fuel system issues appear to be riddling previous-generation Nissan Jukes – a fault that can be very pricey to have fixed

What Nissan says: ‘We are aware of some battery failure on older Nissan models and have taken steps to address this issue, including replacing our battery supplier.

‘[We are] currently contacting 35,000 potentially affected Qashqai owners with a model produced between April 2018 and February 2019, for a free update to their vehicle. Currently, 80% of these vehicles have had the update applied.

‘[We are] committed to the highest standards of quality and reliability in [our] vehicles, and [are] continuing to work with any affected customers to resolve their concerns.’

Faults leaving Range Rover owners raging 

Which?’s survey found that Land Rover models are riddled problems with the on-board computer software.

Typically, this issue affected one in 20 (five per cent) of drivers overall. But owners of the Range Rover Velar (2017 to present) and Range Rover Sport 2013 to present) reported this type of issue more so than others (21 per cent and 17 per cent respectively).

Both the Range Rover Velar (pictured) and Range Rover Sport have a high reported volume of touchscreen issues

Both the Range Rover Velar (pictured) and Range Rover Sport have a high reported volume of touchscreen issues

Both the Range Rover Velar (pictured) and Range Rover Sport have a high reported volume of touchscreen issues

Despite on-board computer problems causing headaches for almost one in five Range Rover Sport owners who completed the Which? reliability survey, Land Rover said this was not an adequate sample size

Despite on-board computer problems causing headaches for almost one in five Range Rover Sport owners who completed the Which? reliability survey, Land Rover said this was not an adequate sample size

Despite on-board computer problems causing headaches for almost one in five Range Rover Sport owners who completed the Which? reliability survey, Land Rover said this was not an adequate sample size

Which? believes the issue may lie with the brand’s ‘Touch Pro Duo’ – the dual 10-inch infotainment touchscreens in the centre console – which the Velar first introduced and the Range Rover Sport adopted in 2018. 

This would explain why only younger versions of the Sport suffer the problem to this extent.

What Land Rover says: ‘Land Rover takes product quality seriously, listening to customers and continuously striving to improve. 

‘To this end, Land Rover is introducing software over the air to its new products, allowing remote updates.

‘Having analysed Which?’s research, Land Rover understands that 0.12 per cent of Range Rover Velar and 0.22 per cent of Range Rover sport customers have been surveyed. We don’t believe this is representative of the vast majority of satisfied customers.’

Tesla troubles 

Teslas aren’t cheap. In fact, even a second-hand Model S (2013 to present) will cost over £50,000. So you’d rightfully expect a certain level of quality.

However, one in five (18 per cent) owners of cars between three and eight years old reported faults with its pop-out door handles (or locks).

The issue with the Tesla Model S is affecting older cars. Some 18% of owners of cars in this age bracket said the pop-out door handles had malfunctioned

The issue with the Tesla Model S is affecting older cars. Some 18% of owners of cars in this age bracket said the pop-out door handles had malfunctioned

The issue with the Tesla Model S is affecting older cars. Some 18% of owners of cars in this age bracket said the pop-out door handles had malfunctioned 

What Tesla says: ‘We review every vehicle […] before it leaves the factory. Our warranties cover any repairs and replacements necessary for door handles for up to four years, and […] Tesla can perform repair work via mobile service, which can be done at a customer’s home or office.’

Which? also asked about cars after the four-year warranty and whether customers could avoid paying for the repair. Tesla responded: ‘The price outside of warranty is £250-£270, including parts, labour and tax.’

Bad times for BMW owners 

Of the 280 car models Which? has reliability data for, three to eight-year-old BMW 5 Series Touring cars (2010 to 2017) have the second-highest fault rate linked to one single problem with a quarter of owners (26 per cent) reporting issues with their suspension.

Five times as many owners of this vehicle reported problems with their suspension component than is normal for other cars the same age.

Despite this, BMW said this is the first it has heard about potential suspension problems with the big estate car.

Expensive suspension components are the bane of BMW 5 Series Touring owners. Over a quarter said their car had this sort of issue

Expensive suspension components are the bane of BMW 5 Series Touring owners. Over a quarter said their car had this sort of issue

Expensive suspension components are the bane of BMW 5 Series Touring owners. Over a quarter said their car had this sort of issue

What BMW says: ‘BMW has conducted additional analysis of all warranty claims from launch to present day and this analysis confirms nothing unusual about suspension claims across the 33,000 vehicles sold.

‘We encourage any dissatisfied Which? reader, whether they participated in this survey or not, to contact BMW UK on 0370 505 0160, making reference to Which?, so that we can investigate their concerns.’

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