Fleet News

Dealers must act over new car faults

'AS new cars are launched at a staggering rate, I sometimes wonder if the sheer speed at which a new vehicle can be produced, from design to finished product, has any impact on quality.

This is based on a feeling that surely something has to give when such complex machines are created so quickly. Let's face it, new cars have never been as cheap or affordable to the masses as they are today.

And, as well as performance and economy, the safety of modern cars is also at its highest ever level.

But problems seem to arise when something goes wrong with a brand new car. We have seen a number of new cars recently with what used to be termed 'teething problems'. These have ranged from simple squeaks and rattles to more complex electrical or computer glitches.

The trouble today is that even minor problems can baffle the best of garages and leave the mechanics scratching their heads. Worse still is the all-too-familiar situation of service centres turning away new car faults until they can be fitted in, instead of immediately trying to tackle them. The problem of new car faults is familiar to all dealers, regardless of franchise.

As new cars are launched, no matter how much training they receive during pre-launch, it is never enough to fix the whole range of irritating problems that will inevitably occur on new models. No matter how much testing the manufacturer carries out over millions of miles and in extremes of heat and cold, the buying public will always bring out the worst in any new model.

But worse than the service department's initial bafflement is the unsympathetic attitude from some dealers towards the new car customer with a problem. Perhaps this is the worst problem of all – and what's the betting that it will be the last one solved.

New plates pose a problem

I have made a surprising discovery about the current number plate system. It was brought to my attention by a dealer complaining about the difficulty he is having with incidents of mis-reading lists of number plates.

Previously this was not a problem and even long paper lists of numbers were easy enough to read with a little care. This was because digits are easier to pick out at the beginning of a line than at the end. With the first four letters and numbers now following the same pattern, the eye has to concentrate on the final three figures which can themselves appear very similar.

This has been identified when preparing large numbers of new cars, with all the relevant paperwork needed to invoice and register each vehicle. If this is more widespread, then it could lead to all kinds of problems, like wrong details being entered on to auction entry forms, mistakes on vehicle history checks and other situations where many registration marks need to read or input in lists.

I don't have a solution but would suggest that awareness of the problem is at least a start.'

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