Oil Issues Blamed for Breakdowns


One U.K. auto insurer authorized nearly 163,000 claims in 2005 due to engine failures it attributed to motor oil issues, leaving motorists with an average repair bill of 1,229 pounds (U.S. $2,312) and prompting warnings to motorists of the risks of failing to check their engine oil regularly.

Last week Comma Oil, based in Gravesend, Kent, England, and Warranty Direct, of Caversham, Reading, England, announced that damagingly low levels of oil and other oil issues accounted for 2.26 percent of the estimated 7.2 million mechanical breakdowns in the United Kingdom in 2005 for which Warranty Direct authorized claims. Comma Oil, which supplies motor oil and other car care products throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Africa, commissioned the research.

According to a Warranty Direct spokesperson, Unfortunately, the way in which the data has been recorded, it only records a problem as oil. This could be not enough [oil], the wrong type of oil, etc.

But the cost of these breakdowns can be significant. Warranty Direct reported that the average cost of replacing an engine in the U.K. is 3,722 pounds (U.S. $7,000) – although it ranges from less than 2,000 pounds for a supermini, to more than 11,000 pounds for some high-performance models.

In 2005, Comma surveyed 1,053 motorists, and 35 percent responded that they check their vehicles oil level only once a year or less frequently. Comma and Warranty Direct blame many breakdowns on the rising number of vehicles that have extended service intervals of up to 20,000 miles. With more than a third of motorists not checking oil regularly, the number of engine replacements will soon rise, they warn.

Whilst the increased service intervals may be good for the motorist, relying on the oil being checked during a service could be fatal for the health of your car and your wallet, said Mike Bewsey of Comma Oil. If you rely on the oil light as a warning, or wait for the vehicle to be serviced, you are taking a real risk. The cost of that risk is far too high.

Added Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct, The number of bills we pay as a result of owner negligence is rising at an alarming rate.

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