One Third of UK Cars Suffer Spring Failure Each Year

Published 20 October 2014

Warranty Direct's claims statistics show that one third of all cars under its warranties suffer spring or suspension failure every year.

Of these, the Audi RS6 and Mercedes R-Class are more likely to suffer suspension damage than any other cars in the UK, according to a new study by Warranty Direct. 

FIAT’s six-seater Multipla and the Jaguar XK are the next most vulnerable, with 29 and 28.5 percent of Warranty Direct customers claiming for damage to axle and suspension components on their cars annually.

Deteriorating, potholed roads in winter and the proliferation of speed bumps increase the likelihood of suspension damage yet further, meaning that repairs cost an average of £247 to fix.

Warranty Direct’s database of 50,000 live policies shows that the most vulnerable vehicles are up to 30 times more likely to claim for suspension damage than the most robust cars.  

At the other end of the ‘risk scale’, the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107 (the same basic car) are seemingly impervious to the UK’s pothole-ridden roads. The Japanese Honda S2000 sports car is also one of the most pothole-resistant vehicles.

Volkswagen Beetles built 2012-2013 and Volkswagen Jettas built 2011-2013 are currently subject to a 1.1 million car worldwide recall to check for hidden rear suspension arm damage. See here.

Axle and suspension failure rates

Make

Model

Year

Percentage chance of suspension failure

Audi

RS6

(02 - 11)

38.37

Mercedes-Benz

R-Class

(06 - 13)

30.67

Fiat

Multipla

(04 - 10)

29.05

Jaguar

XK Series

(96 - 06)

28.48

Bentley

Continental GT

(03 - 11)

28.28

Mazda

5

(05 - 10)

27.17

Mercedes-Benz

CL

(00 - 07)

25.96

Chrysler

300C

(05 - 10)

25.53

Jaguar

XJ Series

(03 - 09)

24.81

Hyundai

Santa Fe

(06 - 12)

24.14

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said: “It is almost unbelievable how much variation there is from one model to another when it comes to suspension damage, though this recall is yet to be announced in Europe. See here.

“Any vehicle driven on damaged, poor surfaces regularly or used for commuting on routes littered with speed bumps will eventually come to grief. London is particularly bad for the latter.

“The roads are as bad as ever but some cars are affected terribly, with components like bushes, track rod ends, drop links, springs and dampers all susceptible. Instead of cheap runabouts, luxury vehicles and stiffly sprung sports cars are most prone to breakdowns – with the exception of the Honda S2000.” 

Vehicles made by Honda, Isuzu and Toyota have the most robust suspension systems; less than three per cent of cars made by these manufacturers suffer failures annually. (This echoes our experience of few failures of Far Eastern built cars reported to the HonestJohn site.)

Bentley, on the other hand, performs worst; 28 per cent of its cars will suffer suspension damage in a typical year.  

Warranty Direct (www.warrantydirect.co.uk) is the UK’s leading direct-to-consumer insurer for car, van and bike mechanical and electrical failures.

 

Comments

GrumpahGeoff    on 20 October 2014

Certainly, within the last four years both rear springs on my Smart and my BMW 320 have snapped. This is a new phenomenon to me. In my 45 years of car ownership, I've never had it happen before! I assumed that it was the quality of the springs.

DSmalls    on 21 October 2014

Interesting that there is such variation. Although judging by the way some people go over speed bumps it doesn't surprise me that it is a common failure. I probably annoy people behind me by going so slowly over them, but the way I look at it it's me paying for any suspension repairs, not them.

Manatee    on 21 October 2014

It's quite noticeable that "Japanese" cars tend not to have epidemic spring breakage rates. Whilst there are many technical factors in coil spring design, the most obvious difference is that European cars usually have 'open' ends. They are just cut off, and have a shaped seat. The Japanese designs usually have and ground ends, to sit on a flat seat. Since everybody must know that open ended springs fail at a far higher rate, why are they used? Possibly because a closed end design can provide more deflection for a given amount of material - so it saves weight and cost, even though it is not fit for purpose. It is not acceptable for manufacturers to blame speed humps/cushions that were there when the car was designed.

Manatee    on 21 October 2014

Sorry, meant to type "Japanese designs usually have *closed* and ground ends".

barnstormer    on 21 October 2014

I think that a possible cause of the wide variation in spring breakage could be the surface finish of the spring, meaning the resistance of the spring coating, or paint, or whatever to the usual salt corrosion found in the UK. Corrosion pits the spring which causes a stress raiser which promotes a fracture, I have seen it on valve springs before.

PJ Steam    on 27 October 2014

Three months ago replaced the two front springs on my 2007 Mercedes E229 Cdi after one of them broke; car has only done 50k miles and is driven carefully, especially over speed bumps. One month ago the radiator started leaking from a fractured seal; could it be that these two phenomenon are related? Still love the car though and cheaper to get repaired than buy new (up to a point).

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