READERS’ CAR SURVEY
The response to our Readers Car Survey has been quite remarkable, over 25″, of our readers taking the trouble to return the form. This is most pleasing for it is obvious that you are as anxious as we are to determine the true facts regarding the reliability factor of modern motor cars. We shall be only too happy if the results of this survey indicate that motor cars are more reliable than recent publicity has led us to believe and with data on many thousands of examples of the more popular cars, we are confident that we shall be able to paint a true picture. Naturally we have received a good deal of correspondence on the subject and a number of people have pointed out possible flaws in the Survey. The major criticism appears to be that the Survey will tend to draw replies only from those with unsatis
factory experiences with the car of their choice. Having sifted many thousands of the replies we are sure this is not true, but even if it were, the sheer weight of numbers will make some manufacturers take notice. Another criticism is that being readers of a sporting journal our Survey answers will come from people who tend to drive a lot harder and faster than the average. This is possibly true and certainly a compliment to our readers but if this is the case then all the cars will be suffering from the same handicap. Of course we have had to discard some bogus replies which have been received from these peculiar people who delight in sabotaging anything, but they are easy enough to spot as they are invariably inconsistent, have incorrect chassis numbers and tend
to overdo the talcs of woe! The replies from those young men who have completed the form in respect of wives or girl friends are amusing but usually too pornographic to publish, whilst those impecunious non-car owning enthusiasts and schoolboys who have taken the opportunity of using the form to write to us on other subjects, thus saving threepence may even get a reply.
Turning to the cars surveyed this month we have included the Triumph TR2 and TR3, all Volkswagen models except the 1500 and the Mini-Minor and Austin Seven. Next month will be the turn of the Triumph Herald, Ford Anglia, Renault Dauphine, Austin Healey 3000 and Sprite. We hope to keep to this formula for a month or two, putting two or three saloon cars in with a sports model, but there is no significance in the order selected.
The results will be tabulated in the same order as the questions on the Survey form and normally will be listed as percentages of the total number of replies. To forestall mathematicians who may wish to write and point out that the totals do not add-up to too”.,, this will often be the case for a person may suffer more than one failure of a component, or have several parts of a component fail, and all these failures have been taken into account. Some of the more interesting quotes will be found throughout the text in italics and although they are intended to be fairly representative, too much weight should not be attached to these for they are purely personal opinions. Careful reading of the subject
matter will reveal quite clearly the components of each model which are suspect and for the used car buyer these figures can be invaluable in choosing his next car. Although we asked only for instances of mechanical failure, large numbers of readers have mentioned particular weaknesses and we have included these comments as a matter of additional interest. which once again should be of use to the potential buyer of that model.
There are of course far too many factors to be taken into account to make this survey as scientific as we would like, for instance it is quite possible that cars from the first few months production run will suffer from more troubles than later models but to delve into such possibilities would take us many months of hard work. Our findings will be presented to the manufacturers concerned and they will be able to examine the survey forms and make any comments for publication in a future issue.
Finally, when reading the results it is as well to bear in mind the length of time a particular model has been in production. For instance in this issue our survey of VW models goes back to t947, of the TR2 to x054 and the B.M.C. Mini to t059. Although we have not attempted to take an average mileage it is fairly obvious that the VW will have a much higher average than the Mini, which is an important point to be borne in mind.—M. L. T.
Is service satisfactory? 53% expressed themselves satisfied with the service offered, 17.9% said they Were dissatisfied, iS.5% do their own -servicing and 11.2% Made no comment under this heading. There was a distinct tendency to criticise the spares service, even from those who expressed satisfaction otherwise. The slowness of the service is the main cause for complaint but a number of readers commented on the high prices of Triumph spares. If car is modified give brief details. Naturally one would expect a sports car to be modified by its owners and the TR series is no exception. Cylinder-head modifications have been carried out by 14.5%, normally comprising polishing operations and raised compression-ratio. Modified camshafts have been fitted by 2.6%, as have oil coolers and different carburetters. Exhaust modifications have been carried out by 1.3% and 0.7% have been bored Out to 2.2-litres. On the chassis side, anti-roll bars have been fitted by r.r.2 damper’s have been exchanged on 5.3%, 3.5% of them being K011is. Of those with drum brakes 0.7% have converted to discs and 1.3″, have fitted Mini drums. Of those Who took delivery of their car without overdrive
fitted it subsequently. A number of people mentioned that they had fitted fibreglass panels to replace rusted wings, etc., as mentioned in the bodywork section.
The !bur-cylinder TR engine has always had a reputation for ruggedness and the results of the survey seem to bear this out. There is evidence to show that mileages of up to 50,000 on an engine are not infrequent but a remarkable number of TRz’s suffered big-end failure at between so,o0o and 60,000 miles, in fact 16% required new bearings around this mileage. Of these, 6% required a reground or new crankshaft. Engine overhauls vere carried out on 7″,, at mileages varying between 35,000 and
85,000. One engine has covered t63,0oo miles with only minor attention. Other faults mentioned are so trivial as to warrant little attention, only a few burned valves really causing any trouble. This engine is obviously extremely reliable.
The reliability of the clutch seems to match that of the engine, only 13.2% requiring relining or replaced clutches and of these, mileages from 35,o0o to 85,00o have been achieved. TRz’s seem to have had no trouble with oil on the clutch but 5.1% of TR3’s had this irritable. The master cylinder required overhaul or replacement on to.2% oilR3’s but only 1.2% of ‘F122’s, while the slave cylinder required similar treatment on 7.79° of TR3’s and only of
Once again there was general approval of the gearbox apart from a few comments on excessive noise and whine whilst one or two people have found that the lever jumps out of gear Sometimes. The most troublesome aspect of the box appears to have been the overdrive solenoid, 6.7% requiring replacement. This figure could well be higher if taken as a percentage only of cars fitted with overdrive, but of course, large numbers of readers did not state whether overdrive was hued. Replacement of one or more gears or the complete box was required on 5.3%, the main culprit being first gear.
• Despite 4 mixture of drum and disc brakes amongst the TRz’s and TR3’s link trouble has been experienced, the only faults worthy of note being master Cylinder replacement on 5.3% anti oil
leakage trouble on Lining wear varies considerably according to use and as many of those who replied have raced or rallied their car it is difficult to work Out an average. The lowest life mentioned is tz,000 miles but the majority seem to achieve in excess of 30,000 without difficulty.
The only items requiring attention in any quantity appear to be bushes which have been changed on 4.6′!,, and the idler arm
which has been replaced on A few complaints were made about heaviness but several readers seem to have eased this problem with a molybdenum disulphide based grease, Ball joints accounted for failures on I.30, one reader being involved in an accident as a result of a broken ball joint.
” .4 ball joint broke at 48,000 aides. The car overturned, was written off by an’ Ingtranre CtiMPLIWY. I bought back the wreck and have successjidly rebuilt it on a nal.. chassis.”
Ignoring the frequent comments on the hard ride given by this model there have been few mechanical failures. Broken leaf springs Were incurred by 3,8%, usually at high Mileages, whilst replaced one or more shock-absorbers, onee:tgain, usually at high mileages. A number of readers have replaced the standard dampers with various other makes. Rubber bush replacements were carried out on 5.3% of the survey cars.
The most troublesome instrument on the TR series is the speedometer, 27% of which required replacement cables. The rev. counter cable was replaced on 7.2% and the water temperature gauge failed on 7.2%. The fuel contents gauges failed on 1.3% of the survey cars.
The most frequent replacement occurred to the dynamo which was changed on 14.54,, ‘ivhilst the starter motor faded or required overhaul on 7.2%. The dip switch failed on 3.3`,, and the coil on 2.7% Battery life varied between 2 and 5 years but few people expressed dissatisfaction. Isolated failures occurred on distributor, horn, condenser and voltage regulator.
Apart from 6.6% who complained of excessive noise most drivers seem to find the TR series rear axle satisfactory. Oil seal failures were found on 7.2% and a -similar percentage of halfshafts broke or required renewal. Various bearings failures occurred on 16.5%. Universal joint and crown wheel and pinion failures-were restricted to a very small percentage.
The paintwork of both the T122 and the TR3 came in for a great deal of criticism in fairly equal numbers. No less than 39% of owners remarked on fading paintwork or excessive rusting. The main areas of rusting are found on the wings where rain is trapped, causing fairly rapid deterioration. A number of owners also point out that the floors beneath the passengers seat rust very badly. Water leaks into the body interior are mentioned by 5.3% and rusting of the chromium plating is mentioned by 4.6%. Other body defects referred to include dropping doors, defective door locks and minor rattles.
OTHER SERIOUS DEFECTS
Obviously the reputation of the • FR series firr ruggedness is not exaggerated for kw people chose to make any remark under this heading. The only complaint which recurred in any quantity was the short life of the silencers, reported by
The Michelin X ” tyre is most popular wear on both the TR2 and the TR3, 78.2% of the former using them and 67.2% of the latter. Dunlop tyres are used by 16.5% of TR2 drivers and 29.1% of ‘1’123 owners. Of the remainder, 2.7″:„ of TR2’s are fitted with Pirelli tyres, /.3′), with Avon and 1.3% with India. On TR3’s, 1.3% use Pirelli, 1.2″,, use Firestone and 1.2% use Avon. With a hard driven car like this, tyre wear is impossible to average but Michelin ” X ” tyres appear to last at least 20,000 miles, with 30,000 miles being a reasonable average.
Would you buy this car again? Yes, 77.8%. No, 22.2%. If not, what will your next car be?
Of those who said they would not buy a TR model again the f011owing cars were named as the successor.
Volkswagen all models except 1500
Is service satisfactory? One of our difficulties in analysing this Survey is that few people gave a straight yes or no answer so that each comment had to be read carefully and then placed in its appropriate category. However, 13.5′!,, of those VW owners who answered our questionnaire remarked that service was not satisfactory, rating in degree from rank dissatisfaction to mild criticism. Of course some of those who were dissatisfied founded this criticism on one particular transaction in which the dealer would not meet them on some point or other. The remainder expressed satisfaction but 0.5″, were of the opinion that VW service, kind spares in particular, are not cheap and 4.8% of the total replies said that the owner carried out his own servicing, some of those being those who were dissatisfied with VW service. A general undercurrent of feeling that VW dealers were too kw and far between Was apparent whilst several people spoke Of their VW dealer losing the agency, Causing them inconvenience, although it was noticeable that in most of these cases the reader was not pleased with the service offered, presumably one of the reasons why the dealer lost the agency. In presenting the following more interesting quotes front the questionnaire it should be remembered that S1.2;:,1, expressed themselves satisfied With the service ‘offered.
If car is modified give brief details. With its reputation for unreliability in a modified state we did not expect many people to have carried out modifications to their VWs but the answers belied this belief. No less than 6.4% of those who answered fitted front anti-roll bars. This does not take into account owners of post1960 models who have an and-roll bar as standard equipment. On the power producing side 2.4% have fitted one of the proprietary twin carburetter kits, the Express conversion being most popular. A sour note here was provided by several people who took the conversions off after a while because of mediocre increase in performance and disproportionate worsening of fuel consumption. Other people carried out carburetter mods including 1.1% who changed to another make of single carburetter, the most popular being the Fish; 1.8% altered the jets in the existing carburetter and a further 1% fitted the Mangoletsi manifold modifier. Only 0.3% admitted to putting a supercharger on the engine. On the exhaust system side, 0.4% fitted the Abarth exhaust system and a further 2.1% fitted alternative silencers of varying makes.
On the chassis side 2% had the rear suspension de-cambered and t.1 °,/,, fitted alternative makes Of shock-absorber, the most popular being the Koni. Harder brake linings were deemed advisable by only 0.9% whilst 1% readers mentioned that they had fitted safety harness, although it is probable that a lot more VWs are so fitted. We did not expect modifications of this type to be mentioned.
VW engine reliability has became something Of a legend and the experience of our readers seems to confirm this. The picture presented is one of immense satisfaction tempered to a small degree with stories of serious engine maladies. The main culprit seems to have been the fibre timing pinion (since replaced by a light alloy version), for this was stripped on 2.2% of the engines, sometimes causing further damage to the engine, mainly to the camshaft. Therefore of the 3% who reported damage to the camshaft a good proportion were directly due to failure of the fibre wheel. However, a number of readers reported that the camshaft had actually broken of its own accord; 1″,, reported a complete or partial engine seizure, usually at relatively low mileages (below 35,000) which resulted in replacement of pistons and no explanation as to the cause. A further 2.6% reported that pistons were replaced usually tbr reasons of excessive oil consumption, often at low mileage. A broken crankshaft accounted
for % replacement engines but these were mostly in carswhich had been modified and driven hard in competition or had covered high Mileages. Several were replaced free of charge. Such comments as ” broken crankshaft — 70 in third ” were not uncommon. Miner irritations for VW owners seem to be the high fatality rate of silencers, manifolds and heater boxes, due often to corrosion and in the case of the silencers often to the burning of the glassfibre innards. No less than 8.3% complained of silencer trouble. Contact breaker points apparently require replacement as often as plugs, many readers remarking that they change them as a matter of course along with the plugs. The oil cooler was a source of
trouble until it was modified and owners of the older model still get trouble with leakages and bursting. Noisy and worn pushrods have caused some trouble and seem to have been replaced free of charge if the owner complained. The remainder of troubles experienced seem to have been either minor or isolated instances. The crankshaft oil seal failed on a few cars and the crankshaft pulley broke on 0.8%. Burned or bent exhaust valves were replaced fairly frequently but usually at high mileages.
The reliability factor of the VW engine is illustrated by the experiences Of those people who decarbonised their engine and found that there was no need for the job to have been done. The lowest mileage at which a decoke was .attempted was 32,000 miles and the highest a staggering 96,000! Engine replacements or overhauls due to wear or defects also bear out the reliability of the VW. Disregarding those engine changes which were carried out at relatively low mileages due to defects it seems from the experiences of drivers that mileages in excess of 50,000 without major replacements are quite common. The best mileage recorded in our selection is zto„000 miles on an engine which is still going strong, whilst a number of units were replaced for the first time at mileages in excess of 100,0Oo miles. Coupled with the fact that so many of those who replied have had no engine trouble at all it seems certain that VW drivers can continue to expect long trouble-free engine life.
The life of any clutch depends on the demands made on it so it is no surprise to find that VW clutch life varies from 9,000 miles to over too,000 miles. The cable-operated VW clutch suffers from judder if not adjusted correctly, and 4.4% complained of clutch judder, whilst a further 2.1% complained of clutch slip. This was not always cured after adjustment. The most persistent fault is cable stretching and eventual breakage, no less than /5.6% of actual cable breakage being recorded, a number of readers suffering this inconvenience two, three or even four time’s. A number of people went so far as to mention that the clutch ought to be hydraulically operated. The actual life of a VW clutch is difficult to gauge as a number of clutches have been overhauled or relined due to oil leakage from the crankshaft oil seal, some of them no doubt without the owner’s knowledge. A good average life seems to be in the region of 40,000 miles although careful usage indicates a much higher life is possible. Minor faults included broken withdrawal forks (0.3%), ‘seized cross shafts (0.2%), broken return springs (3.3.’4, release bearing (2.7%). Some people have installed the later ballbearing type release bearing, while others have fitted a complete clutch from the utility versions of the VN,V
Owners were generally enthusiastic about their gearboxes 76.9% pronouncing themselves perfectly satisfied, having had no trouble. Many others had no mechanical failures but felt Strongly enough about various weaknesses in the box to remark on them. Stiffness in the box was the complaint of 6.5%, many stating that it is almost impossible to get xst and 2nd gears on cold days until the oil is warm. A further 3.4% complained of poor synchromesh and 5.0-;, snore felt that their gearboxes were too noisy.
Actual failures were very few, amounting to 3.5% cases’ of bearing failure, 2.8% replacements of one or more gear wheels, P.3% complete seizures, 0.2% broken selector rods and o.1′,1/0 broken layshaft.
Complete overhauls or replacements because of wear varied considerably from 33,000 miles to 145,000 miles but so few had actually reached the state of requiring overhaul that no Overage could be taken.
Once again a picture of satisfaction is recorded, for 62.6% had no remarks to make under this section, whilst the majority of the remainder merely recorded the brake lining life. From these results it would seem that a VW has to be driven hard to go less than 30,000 miles on a set of linings and the average appears nearer to 40,000 miles. Many drivers exceeded this figure easily 4.4% of them beating the 60;o0o-mile mark, whilst the best on one set of linings was 97,060 miles.
Of the intangible faults 1% complained of fade and 0.9% remarked on annoying brake squeal. It appears that ovality of the drums may be an inherent VW fault for a number of people remarked on roughness, grabbing or ” pulsing ” of the brake pedal and 4.5% actually stated that oval drums had been skimmed or replaced. 0.8`;r:, remarked on chafed or corroded brake piping, the more serious aspect being that in 0,2% of these cases the loss of fluid led to accidents, fortunately without serious consequence. Another accident was caused when two wheel cylinders failed on one car. Replacement cylinders were reported by 2.9% but most of them failed to note whether this was the master cylinder or wheel cylinders, Leaking brake fluid was noted by 0.8%. Leaking. oil caused brake trouble in 1.7% instances and 1.5°,;, cases of seized pistons were reported. Only 0.4% remarked that adjustment was required too frequently.
There were hardly any failures in the steering ,gear reported, only routine maintenance being carried out in most cases. Wheel bearings are the main item of expenditure but only 5,8% were reported, at mileages varying between 6,000 and 75,000 miles. King-pin replacements were relatively few, only 2.6% replacing one OT more of these at mileages between 19,000 and 144,000. Only tO, complete steering overhauls were made. Other replacements included 8.8% track-rod ends, 2.2% link pins, 1.2% bushes, o.3% steering columns, o. L”, drop arm and p..t6:, ball joint; 922% readers had no trouble with their steering gear.
Little trouble Seems to have become evident in the suspension, the main replacements being:in shock-absorbers, 7% of which have been replaced at mileages varying between 2,000 and 80,0oo. Suspension bushes accounted fOr 2.9% replacements but other troubles did not get into double figures, only s % eases of torsion bar breakage and a single stub axle replacement being notified.
This seemed to give most people a good laugh for all VWs except the latest model have only one instrument-the speedometer, although of course. the Karmann-Ghia model has had rather more comprehensive instrumentation for some years. Those owners of the latest model with a fuel gauge and no reserve tap nearly always condemned this innovation. However, the speedometer more than made up for its lack of companions because no less than 37.2′!;, of speedometers required replacement cables and 5.2% of speedometer heads Were exchanged. Obviously there is a good deal of room for improvement in this ‘do instrument. 0,2% noted failures of the new fuel gauges and a number of failures were noted in the oil pressure switch.
Ignoring the inevitable replacements of bulbs and fuses which were mentioned by nearly everyone. 77.4% readers had no major
electrical bothers. Battery renewals formed the major item of replacements, and the champion battery, an Exide, is still in use after seven years. A good average life seems to be around the four to five-vear mark and a number of readers remarked on the excellent service given by the original Exide• battery. The wiper Motor was replaced on 3.7°:, cars, the dynamo on 2.9% cars and the starter on 1.6%, whilst the horn and trafficators seem to have been the most troublesome of the smaller accessories, the traflicators switch breaking on 3.7%, whilst the horn failed on 4.6% The distributor, coil, fuse box, clock, dip switch, ignition switch and flasher unit were given as sources of trouble by very small numbers of owners, belOw 1% in every case. Although not an actual failure, 2.4% mentioned that the lights were too poor, some of them remarking that the addition of any electrical accessories soon overloaded the 6-volt system.
There appears to be little real mechanical trouble in the VW final drive, only 1.2% of the crown-wheel and pinions having failed and only 0.2% of the final drives have required total replacement. Various bearing failures occurred on 2.1% ttf the cats and the axle gaiter was replaced on 2.3
Obviously the least satisfactory aspect of the VW’s external appearance is rusting of the chromium-plated parts. No less than 15.4% complained of rusting, mainly on the bumpers but also on other parts. Of those, 2.3% have replaced bumpers’ because of serious rusting and 0.5% have had them re-chromed. A number of readers who Obviously take pride in the appearance of their cars registered their disgust at the quick deterioration of the bright work even with frequent attention. Rusting of the bodywork was mentioned by 9.9°1., although the general opinion of the paintwOrk was quite favourable. A number of people mentioned that they felt the VW. was definitely not its own garage! Wings were replaced by 1`1, because of rusting and 4.3% carried out a complete respray, although many of these were due to age rather than deterioration through rust. Door lock failures were mentioned by 3.2% and 4.7% complained of water leaks both into the interior and into the luggage compartment.
OTHER SERIOUS DEFECTS
Most of the remarks under this heading merely re-iterated statements made under other headings and generally related to minor, but perhaps irritating, failures. Heater and petrol fumes were mentioned by 1.9%, rattles by t “;,, whilst a further 1% made adverse comments on the car’s handling in cross winds, and 0.6% remarked on the poor headlamps. Otherwise the VW seems to arouse little adverse comment from its owners.
The tyres used by owners depend very much on the make which is supplied as standard equipment. In the case of VW the Michelin tyre is supplied as standard equipment in this country and therefore it is no surprise to learn that 83″,, are so fitted. ‘Continental tyres are fitted to 8.2″,„ Dunlop to 4.6%,
Goodyear Firestone 1.9% and Pirelli 1.4″.. Sixteen other makes are mentioned, but are mostly foreign makes used abroad. This total reaches more than too?„ but several readers have used more than one set of tyres and changed to •another make so these have been included in our totals. It was found impossible to determine a basis on which tyre life could be averaged but a spot check showed that Michelin ” X ” users seem to find that a minimum life of 30,060 miles Can be obtained, whilst mileages in excess of 50,000 ore not uncommon. Would you buy this car again? Yes, 84.7″;, No, 15.3°4;
If not, what will your next car be? Of the 15.3% who said they would not buy a VW again some said that this was because they liked a change, however reliable a car had been. Many of those who answered yes to this question qualified this by stating that if they liked a certain new model they would probably change to that. The two cars which cropped up more than any others were the VW 1500 and the Porsche. It is pretty certain that if the Porsche were to be sold in this country for under ki.50o the second-hand VW market would see a glut and Moroit SPORT has not even tested a Porsche!
Is service satisfactory? A satisfying 67.6% of Mini-owners reported that they were happy with service offered, 19%, were not satisfied, 7′!„ carry out their own servicing, and 6.4% made no comment under this heading. If car is modified give brief details. With the handling qualities of the Mini it was fairly obvious that a good deal Of engine timing would be carried out. 5.7″,,, carried out cylinderhead modifications, consisting usually of raised compressionratio, enlarged and polished Ports, and a few fitted larger valves. The most popular mod was to the exhaust system; 13.2% fitting different exhaust manifolds or silencers. Carburetter modifica
tions were carried out by normally by fitting twin S.V.s on a special manifold. Stronger valve springs were fitted by 3-3%, high-lift camshaft by t.8%, and sports coils by o.6%. Some people did not list their modifications but merely stated that a certain conversion was fitted. 0.8% fitted a Stage I kit, 0.9″., a-Stage 11,0.2% a Stage III, and 0.4%, a Stage IV. A number of other cars have been modified to Appendix J, Group II, regulations.
Having been inproduction barely 21 years one would not expect a large number of major overhauls to have become necessary and this is indeed the case, as the Mini series appears to have been remarkably free of major troubles. 61.8% reported that they had experienced no engine trouble at all. However, this picture of reliability is spoiled by stories of irritating minor defects, over forty different faults being reported. A source of irritation has been carburetter flooding and misfiring, often apparent when new cars are delivered. This Was reported by 4.1″,, a small percentage of these eventually changing carburetters to improve matters. A fault mentioned by 7.60,, is shorting of electrics due to ingress of water to distributor and coil. One owner mentioned that the car would stop in a heavy mist! This fault has been corrected on later models by fitting protective taps but no cure appears to have been offered to owners of older models. Another trouble which has afflicted 9,4”,, is breakage of the exhaust down-pipe, either the joint or the gasket failing. This has happened two or three times to some people. Cylinder head gasket failures have been incurred by 3.4′.%0 and water leaks on the engine were mentioned by 4%, many of these leakages being through cylinder-head studs. 3.3% mentioned oil leaks or failures of oil seals. Timing-chain rattle and eventual replacement were reported by 1.8%,. Burned valves were replaced by 3.1%, the majority being exhaust valves; pistimS were changed by 1.1″;.„ while big-end bearings were replaced by 0.7% and main hearings by Broken crankshafts were the cause of o.6%, of engine rebuilds, while the majority of the 3.6% which required new or rebuilt engines were caused by excessive oil consumption at low mileages. Heavy oil consumption was complained of by Of the accessories, water pumps failed on Petrol pumps on 1.4% and oil pumps on 2.4%. Leakage of the heater tap is complained of by .2″,,-, burst radiator hoses by 0.9%, broken fan belts by 4.5%, thermostat by 0.2%, sticking throttle cable by and 1.2%
reported that the engine tie rod required re-bushing. o.6% required replacement rocker cover -gaskets, and 0.4% of manifold gaskets failed.
Although this is by no means the complete list it can be seen that large numbers of minor faults have detracted from what is essentially a reasonably reliable engine. However, the 3.6% who have changed engines seem to have done so at rather low mileages.
The clutch received more criticism than praise. Replacement clutches have been fitted by 7.2%, some of them several times and one owner getting five new clutches before obtaining satisfaction. The highest mileage we were notified of at which a clutch was changed was 37,060 miles. New plates have been fitted by 3.8% at various mileages. The crankshaft oil seal was mentioned by 5.2″,„ as causing oil to leak on to the plates, giving rise to clutch slip. A further 6.t % mentioned clutch slip without actually stating that oil had been found on the plates. 2.2% mentioned that the clutch tended to jerk or judder and a further 4.5% criticised clutch drag which made it difficult to select ist gear without making a noise. Minor complaints concerned leaking master cylinders 0.4%) and excessive noise (o.4″.)
Perhaps the most criticised component on the car, the gearbox design was given unfavourable cOmment by a very large proportion of Mini owners. No less than 43.9% complained of poor synchromesh, many of them mentioning mileages at which the synchromesh effect disappeared _altogether. A further 11.8% had taken steps to try and remedy this by having the synehromesh replaced, a large proportion having an entirely new gear train, to no effect apparently. 4.7% complained of the gearbox being noisy and another 3.9% felt that the change action was too stiff; 0.3% suffered a seized gearbox, o.6%, had the gear-lever break off, 0.2″., had the selectors jam, and 0.2%, mentioned that it slipped out of gear frequently.
” New Awarboxes at 6,000 and 11,000 miles.”
” First replacement gearbox at 1:000 mites, second at 6,0co, third at 11,000 miles.”
” Gearbox replaced under warranty al 7,000 miles. Still very poor.”
” Seized solid at 1,400 miks. Replaced under guarantee:” ” Renewed five times. Main fault is fail-web!’ synchromesh.”
” New sprain.) cones fitted 1,506 miles and 8,142 miles, New box fitted 12,415 miles. Second new box lifted 55,854 miles.S’ecOnd and 3t .t-1 gears still hard to engage.”
The brakes of the Mini series received general unfavourable comment. 4.5″„ said that the brakes were good, 5.1% said they were adequate and to.8″,, said they were poor, whilst 4.1% remarked that they faded too easily. The short brake-lining life was strongly criticised and 6.3% stated that adjustment was required far too frequently. 27.9% of readers have had their brakes relined, usually at very low mileages ranging from the 19,000 to 20,000-mile mark but seldom very much higher. Many people remarked that a ” hard ” lining had been fitted at the first change to try and extend lining life. Locking-on of brakes was a complaint of 6.6%, most complaints being against the rear brakes. This fault is usually traceable to the handbrake which apparently Suffers from rusting and clogging Of the linkage, resulting in the rear brakes locking-on eVentuallv. No less than 11.2% specifically mentioned trouble with a locking handbrake. lydraulie System troubles were mentioned by 3.4% and 1.4% had troubles with the master cylinder, whilst oil leakage on to drums was reported by 2.3″/;,. The disc-braked Cooper models seem to perform much more satisfactorily.
Little trouble seems to have become evident in the steering, the vast majority enthusing over the light and accurate rack-and-pinion steering. In fact 50.I”, expressed complete satisfaction. The moat eommon complaint which 3.2′!, mentioned was misalignment of the track, which appeared to be difficult tx-1 correct in a number of cases. The felt washer at the top of’ the steering Column was replaced On 2.3%, of cars and in one ease the owner discovered that Continued on page 232 READERS’ CAR. SURVEY-continued from page 229
it had never been put on in the first place. Various replacements of bushes were made by 2.2% and track-rod ends were replaced by 0:6%.
‘lie main complaints on the suspension are levelled against the shock-absorbers, 18% of the survey cars having had them changed for various reasons, usually at rather low mileages. No reasons have been given in the majority of cases although a number of people mention leakages and rattling. In fact 6.4% mention that the suspension in general is too noisy, while 1.3% reported
a suspension collapse. 0.95 mentioned failure of a link arm, 2.1% replaced bushes, and 0.6% of wheel bearings have been changed. 39.8% reported themselves as having no trouble with the suspension. In view of the reliable performance normally given by shock-absorbers it would appear that the suspension characteristics of the Mini and the hard cornering it engenders place rather a strain on these components.
These seem to have been generally reliable so far. 4.5% have changed speedometer cables, 2.2% have had trouble with the fuel contents gauge, 1.6% have had failure of the windscreen washers, 1.0% of oil pressure warning lights have failed as have 0.2% of Water temperature gauges.
A number of failures are reported under this heading with the .fuel pump having been changed on 0.5%, the horn on 4.2%, various switches on 3.4%, direction indicators on 2.8%, heater controls on 2.2%, dynamo on r.8°,,„ battery on 2.1%, headlamps on 1.5°.,;„ coil on 0.7.’,”„, voltage regulator on 0.6%, ignition switch on 0.6’%, starter motor on 0.4°./;„ wiper motor on 1.7%, dis
tributor on while 0.4% suffered a complete electrical failure. Battery life cannot be judged yet and the 2.1% which have been c:ianged are probably due to faults rather than being worn out.
The failures in the final drive are so few as not to require mention. Being in unit with the gearbox the 1.8% complaints of excess noise could well apply to either unit, while the rather large number of gearbox replacements could well include some replacements of the final drive.
The most prominent complaint, and certainly the most distressing, was the report from 16.9% that water leaked into the body. This complaint is not restricted to owners of the earlier models but spread throughout the whole range. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that many people have still been offered no cure, many readers stating that their garage had not even found the point of entry. A number of people remarked that water also entered through the window surround.
5.6% complained of poor paintwork,. a further 8% reported rusting of the body and 3.5″,, mentioned rusting of chromium)1ated parts, especially the bumpers, many people adding that the bumpers were of little practical use. 4.77, reported loose or ,iroken door locks and window catches and 4.9% had ill-fitting doors and windows. 2.8% mentioned that the door cables broke.
” When new became mobile paddling pool at mere sight of rain. Cured free by dealer. Windscreen leaks now.”
” After initially having to wear waders it was rectified within a few days of purchase.”
” Going rust v everywhere paint scraped off bottom of doors. You need to be really strong to shut the doors. Windscreen leaks. Pools of water underfoot.”
” Oh ! Chronic rusting, water entering through screen and other undiscovered places. Seats losing shape and door pulls broken.”
” Water up to z in. deep on floor after rain. Garage did its best to help hut took la months and it is still damp Underfoot. Two sets of underfelt fitted.”
OTHER SERIOUS DEFECTS