According to analysis by independent automotive warranty firm, Warranty Direct, the number of cars needing suspension and axle repairs as a result of poorly maintained roads and potholes has jumped from 9 percent of all claims in 1999 to an average of 17% for the first eight months of 2004.
Either continuous driving over cracked and uneven road surfaces, or the sudden jolting of a deep pothole, can cause damage to shock absorbers, springs, upper and lower arms, and stabiliser bars.
Regionally, Scottish drivers are the most at risk with a staggering 35 percent of all claims attributable to a road defect. The worst region in England during the past twelve months has been Anglia with nearly 1 in 5 breakdowns reporting suspension or axle damage. Greater London recorded a figure of nearly 14 percent, with roads in the South West, currently the least likely to damage the health of your vehicle at just over 11 percent.
Region - percentage
North East 18.77
West Midlands 15.56
North West 15.25
Greater London 13.99
East Midlands 13.76
South East 12.40
South West 11.04
British Average: 16.93
The data from Warranty Direct is supported by comments from the Institute of Civil Engineers and the Asphalt Industry Alliance about the state of British roads. The latest ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey, reported a 94% increase in visible defects over the past 10 years, during which time the number of compensation claims against local authorities in England had doubled an annual payout of £85m.
On average, Warranty Direct will pay £267.15 to repair pothole-damaged vehicles – a figure that can quickly rise. For example, replacing the front suspension arm on a Ford Focus will cost £332.52 or £619.22 for a BMW 3-series.
“With current budgets only allowing for resurfacing once every 76 years, is it no wonder that more than 1 in 6 vehicles that breakdown today will have suffered a mechanical failure as a result of poorly maintained roads?,” says Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct.