Your biggest problems with car dealers revealed

Credits: Pete Gibson
13 Aug, 2014 10:00am

The results of the Driver Power 2014 survey are in, showing that dealers annoy most by failing to find a reported fault

The top complaint about dealers remains their inability to identify faults on your cars, and this was a problem for even more of you this year, rising by four per cent on last year’s result. Also more of an issue for owners in 2014 was unanswered phone calls – a greater number of drivers found getting hold of their dealer harder than last year.

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In fact, these issues dominated your criticisms: not identifying the fault was the biggest gripe for owners using 22 of the 32 dealer networks in our countdown; not picking up the phone was the top complaint for all the others.

Unfortunately, those motorists who did report a problem with their car were visiting similar dealers to those encountering faults last year – Alfa Romeo, Chrysler and Land Rover owners have made up the majority of Driver Power respondents suffering reliability issues over the past three years.

According to the data from our 2014 survey, the number of owners to experience problems has fallen slightly, to just over 12,000. And of those who did experience reliability issues, 46 per cent had the glitch resolved under warranty.

We’ve broken down the problems drivers encounter with their cars below. Electrical issues topped the table – which isn’t a huge surprise considering how complex and laden with technology modern cars now are.

Problems with engines still feature quite high on our list of faults, although these are seven per cent down on 2013’s final tally.

Given how many faults drivers have reported, it’s not surprising that many owners have complained to their dealer – 22 per cent of you told us that you have. And disappointingly, just 28 per cent of you said that you were happy with the outcome of your complaint.

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This year, it was Dacia and Mazda owners who were most vocal towards their dealers when things went wrong.

Our Driver Power data shows most motorists are still heading to their franchised main dealer to get work done, with more of you returning there than was the case last year.

This gain for main dealers is a loss for independent garages, however – fewer owners have been getting the local workshop to look at their car.

A small number continue to have work carried out by a marque specialist, while the number of people doing DIY servicing and repairs continues to fall.

More often than not, drivers used a dealer as they’d bought their car from there. This was the number one reason for owners choosing where to get their car serviced, well ahead of any other, and perhaps says more about owners keeping things simple by sticking with the people they’d previously dealt with.

Motorists also clearly think cars are best looked at by someone who knows the brand – franchised main dealer or specialist – as the mechanics’ expertise with the marque was the joint second most important consideration here, along with friendly and helpful staff.

But opinion is clearly divided on why owners went to certain dealers. Those using a franchised garage told us they did so because they bought their car there. Anyone using a local independent garage was likely to have been drawn by the friendly and helpful staff, while those visiting independent marque specialists for servicing did so for the expertise on offer.

Is your car dealer good, bad or indifferent? Click here to take part in the 2015 Driver Power survey and tell us.