Car breakdowns under warranty: Poll data reveals how often this happens

Modern-day cars have become highly mechatronic & we are seeing breakdowns of even newly acquired vehicles in no time.

BHPian ajayc123 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

For a lot of us, a personal motorized vehicle car/bike is probably the second biggest spend item in our lifetime (after a house) as per our stage of life, if you leave aside your spend on events/experiences (like weddings / holidays etc). Due to the high value, it also leads to a fair amount of due diligence on the part of the buyer after factoring into the requirements, preferences and budget.

There are a lot of variables that come into play (from fun to drive, built like a tank, kitna deta hai and so on). For some, one of the key variables is the reliability of the vehicle.

When you step (in/on) to your vehicle on your mission (be it a small errand, trip to your workplace, an outstation trip, or whatever), what if the vehicle breaks down? And it wouldn’t start / budge at all even with your best efforts. You abandon your current mission, and your new mission is to get your vehicle to the workshop, and get it up and running again. Along with it comes a new set of anxieties, that, although the vehicle is under warranty, how long will it take to get it back in shape, and will the problem be reliably resolved, and not repeat again in near future?

While it is fully expected that the vehicle will breakdown at some point of time in its lifetime, even though you carry out scheduled preventive maintenance, is it fair to expect that the manufacturers have designed the vehicle to be able to at least run without any major breakdown during the warranty / extended warranty period? Or is it an unfair expectation? Or is it that, for whatever reasons, for some manufacturers, reliability has taken a backseat?

As the technologies are evolving rapidly and the vehicles moving from being fairly mechanical to highly mechatronic these days, we are seeing breakdowns of even newly acquired vehicles in no time.

On social platforms, usually, the negatives / problems are visible and appear quite prominently, but the things are not as visible when things are as expected. For example, if you have concerns with something that you got recently, you will not hesitate to give a one-star rating, but if it was alright, you don’t bother to give it a 4 or 5-star rating. So the feedback may get skewed.

In this post, I am asking for a simple poll, to bring up both sides of the picture, with the hope that this will get us some semblance of the ground reality, and help the team-bhp members and readers get some perspective to be better informed for their upcoming vehicle purchases.

While a lot of you would be having a long history of vehicles, I can suggest you poll about one of your recent purchases, so that the response is reflective of the current trend, and helps in the current context.

How many major breakdowns did you have during the warranty / extended warranty period?

  • Option 1: None
  • Option 2: 1 or 2 times
  • Option 3: 3 or more times

If you wish to, please feel free to respond, with some contextual information, as a response to this thread for example:

  • Manufacturer:
  • Model/trim:
  • Purchase Year:
  • Duration of your warranty / extended warranty:
  • Fuel Type/Transmission/Gearing:
  • Kilometres done:
  • Your delightful experience or your breakdown sob story:

PS. I have no clue, about the kind of response that I will get but I am giving this a try, as I think such a thread should provide very valuable input for my next purchase.

Here’s what GTO had to say about the matter:

Good thread idea. Luckily, haven’t suffered breakdowns with any of our cars. The 530d has been very reliable. The Sunny has had some issues here & there (e.g. AC work every 2 years), but never a breakdown. Ditto with the Civic & City Vtec. On the other hand, the Tata Indigo was a mess. Too many problems & breakdowns; sold it off just at the 4-year mark as no one in the family was willing to use it. The C220 was good during the warranty period, but the C180 was a mess. Interestingly, although the C180 gave us a hell of a lot of trouble, it never left us stranded by the road.

Later, we should start a similar poll with the number of problems faced during the warranty period (not just breakdowns like this thread). Am seeing new cars with an alarming number of problems. The Kushaq’s EPC issues, Hyundai-Kias DCTs, Harrier-Safari problems, Honda’s 4th-gen City woes and so on. New cars today are simply not as reliable as they were at one time. Even the Innova Crysta had a fair share of issues early in its model life.

Here’s what BHPian JoshMachine had to say about the matter:

  • Manufacturer: VW
  • Model/trim: Vento Highline
  • Purchase Year: 2015
  • Duration of your warranty / extended warranty: Full warranty of 7 years (max possible back then)
  • Fuel Type/Transmission/Gearing: Diesel, DSG
  • Kilometres done: 87,000+
  • Your delightful experience or your breakdown sob story: Full of pleasant experiences. Not a single breakdown in the entire 6.5+ years of ownership. The car was reliable to the core and took us to places, not imagined possible in a sedan. Long-distance trips were super comfortable.

Here’s what BHPian Dr.AD had to say about the matter:

Luckily for me, I have not suffered any major breakdown in any of my cars in warranty or even beyond the warranty period.

My 2010 Maruti SX4 is still running fine. Although there are a few minor issues now (expected for a 12-year-old car with more than 125,000km on the odo), it still runs fine. During the warranty period and the extended warranty period, the car ran absolutely fine and I did not have to use the warranty for even a single claim.

My 2017 BMW 320d just ran out of 5 year warranty period about a month ago. Again, thankfully it ran absolutely great and still runs absolutely great. It is as reliable as my Maruti SX4. Although there were no breakdowns or any driving issues at all on this car, a few things were changed under warranty:

  • In the 1st year itself, the steering column cover/boot was changed under warranty because it was broken and that lead to some funny but faint noise in the cabin during acceleration. The car ran absolutely fine, but when I complained about that faint noise, the SA diagnosed this to the broken steering column plastic cover/boot, and replaced that under warranty.
  • A certain clamp that holds the handbrake cable at one place got broken (a very common problem in F30), and that lead to some rattling noise from this cable. This was changed under warranty. Again, the car was running absolutely fine, and the only problem was a rattling noise on acceleration.
  • Finally, and most recently, when I was into the final week of my 5 year warranty period, I casually asked the SA to check if everything was alright. They checked the car thoroughly and found the front suspension struts to be leaking. Again, there was zero impact on driving as the leak was very minor. I had not noticed that at all myself. But they found the leak and voluntarily changed the struts (and some associated parts) under warranty, and I got brand new suspension components in my car just a week before the warranty expired! Very nice of BMW to voluntarily change such major parts under warranty a week before it expired, that too when I had not even complained of any issues!

Going long back in time, to my earlier cars, my brand new 2001 Audi A4 in the US had some airbag error flashing on the dashboard once, and that led them to replace some airbag sensors under warranty in a new car (a very expensive replacement covered under warranty, going by the bills they showed me). But again, the car ran absolutely fine (except for this warning which once flashed in the middle of the drive and never happened again – but was enough for them to replace components) and there was no “breakdown” to speak of.

To summarize, all my cars ran fine through the warranty period and I had no breakdowns whatsoever (touch wood).

Here’s what BHPian Jeroen had to say about the matter:

I had two Innovas when we lived in Delhi. Never had any problem, not even a small problem, not even a puncture. We drove about 15000 km per year.

Here in Europe, I have had a long string of company tin. All brand new, via a leasing company. I have had cars from Ford, Opel (Vauxhall), VW, Audi, BMW, Renault, Volvo, Mercedes and probably some more bland I used to drive at least 60000 km a year.

But for the life of me, I can’t think of any problem, ever, with any of these cars, ever. Admittedly, Europe, especially Western Europe is a far more forgiving environment for any car. But still, a pretty good track record. Obviously, with so many cars, I have had the odd bender, puncture, bend rim and even once or twice an alignment done. But I honestly don’t think I had any problems with any of these cars, let alone a real breakdown.

We have bought a private new car, only once. A Talbot Samba some 40 years ago. I have written about that disaster sometime before. It spend more time in the shop than in our driveway. Actually going in that car was a rare event. But it was 40 years ago, my wife’s choice and it’s French, so what can you expect? The world has moved on and these days all my wife want is a cute Ford Fiesta. Can’t go wrong with a Fiesta. New or second-hand.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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