Too complicated to repair

The cost of all the sophisticated technology in our cars means that insurance companies are increasingly writing-off damaged vehicles.

Even a minor collision which damages the air-conditioning, or sets off multiple air-bags, could see the car costing more to repair than to wreck.

CAP operational development manager Mark Norman told the annual Refinish Industry Survey Conference (RISC): "A three-year-old Ford Focus 1.6 LX today is worth exactly the same in pound notes as a three-year-old 1600 LX Escort was 12 years ago.

"Even though all the technological features such as ABS, full electric windows, remote central locking, air conditioning, air-bags and generally superior engineering and quality make it a far superior car, the used car buyer is paying less in today’s market than for the car it replaced. Insurers, in particular, are caught in a pincer movement between today’s lower residual values and the sheer cost of replacing the technologically sophisticated safety and comfort features of modern cars."

As an example, a 1996 year car, without airbags and air conditioning, would cost £3,865 – just over half of the purchase price of the vehicle. The same work on a 2006 model car would total £5,856 – or 88 per cent of the car’s value.

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