Ford Defends Durability of Transit Connect, Warning of “Misleading” Statistics

2010 Ford Transit Connect white panel

By Andy Bannister

01.18.2010

Ford Corporate Logo smallThe new-to-America Ford Transit Connect has been on sale in Europe for some years, and may have a doubtful long-term durability record, according to a newly-published British snapshot of vehicle roadworthiness after three years.

Ford has, however, strongly disputed the validility of the findings.

The Transit Connect was the most troublesome vehicle in terms of failing a maintenance test all vehicles over three years old have to undergo in the United Kingdom annually, statistics released under the UK Freedom of Information Act revealed.

Known as the MoT (Ministry of Transport) test, vehicles legally need to pass this yearly assessment of roadworthiness carried out by garages across the country. It consists of a long list of statutory checks for overall wear and tear, and a pass ensures the vehicle is safe to continue using.

A BBC investigation, using powers under the Act and concentrating on vehicles selling over 20,000 units in Britain annually, uncovered the figures, which relate to vehicles tested in 2007. They show the Turkish-built Transit Connect was the worst model among volume-selling cars and vans for flunking its MoT test.

The full-size Ford Transit Van, the Transit Connect's big brother

The full-size Ford Transit Van, the Transit Connect's big brother

For vehicles first used in 2004 and facing their first MoT assessment in 2007, Ford’s light van had the single highest failure rate at 30.5%. Its bigger panel van brother, simply known as the Ford Transit, didn’t fare much better, scoring 26.3%.

The wooden spoon for cars went to Renault’s Megane, some 28.1% of which failed the test, with a number of GM Europe Vauxhalls (the Vectra, Corsa and Meriva) plus Peugeot’s 307 and Renault’s Scenic also scoring poorly.

Toyota CorollaThe best-performing vehicle was the Toyota Corolla with an 11.2% failure rate. Other 2004-registered cars which did better-than-average included Honda’s Civic and Jazz (Fun), the Toyota Yaris and (some consolation here) Ford’s Fiesta.

However, the Government-controlled Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, which initially strongly resisted publishing the data until prodded by the country’s Information Commissioner, has cautioned that the release of this information might be confusing.

Ford UK has gone further, describing the list as “misleading”. It says the test just measures roadworthiness and takes no account of how and when the owner maintains and services the vehicle.

Ford Transit Connect 2004It goes on to blame the high mileage many Ford vans do in company fleets, adding a lack of personal attachment between the driver and the vehicle means maintenance is often neglected.

Ford says in the real world, the Transit Connect benchmarks well against competing vans from other manufacturers, and buyers should not fear unreliability, citing consistently high repeat sales as evidence that most customers are satisfied.

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Author: Andy Bannister

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9 Comments

  1. I have to agree with Ford. It’s hardly fair to compare a work truck that gets all sorts of abuse hurled at it from tradesmen, AND, has a great many miles put on it, all on an unrelenting daily basis, to generally well looked after passenger cars .

    Really, are you kidding me?

    How can you say that is a fair contest?

    The trucks and vans where I work (building supply distributor) take an unbelievable pounding in terms of miles traveled, being overloaded with too much weight, bouncing along in mud on job sites, being bumped into stuff, etc. The transmissions and the electrical systems and the cooling systems get worked pretty hard. Headlights and front grills get broken, mirrors get torn off, doors and tailgates get bent and broken, etc.

    Those trucks get trashed.

  2. madeinuk says it all, ditto for me.

  3. I third Ford UK’s complaint.

    A more ‘reliable’ response would be from the UK’s roadside breakdown service, the AA. How many of these things do they have a call out for each year compared to other makes and models?

  4. Got the full list handy? It’s always interesting to see results like this when naysayers typically say that Consumer Reports is biased towards domestics but what do they say when they see things like this?

    Anyways, anyone from UK care to shed some light as to how these things are truly being used? I’m willing to believe that they’d be much better at taking care of their tools and the such since their vehicle inspections are that much more stringent than ours. And does this particular survey also include trucks?

    Despite that, I’m in the construction business too so yeah, trucks and vans typically get driven into the ground so this is kind of a skewed result. OTOH, these vans really look like they’re more tailored for running bakeries or flower boutiques. Not nearly enough ground clearance it seems to enter jobs sites. Unless you’re forcing it to scrap the under panel.

  5. Okay so I did a bit of digging and I found this:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8456116.stm

    So no trucks from what I see. But it offers this interesting nugget:

    “The crucial information that is not available is the mileage of the car, or an assessment of how well it has been looked after by the owner, both of which will have a direct bearing on a vehicle’s condition and its ability to pass an MOT test.

    John Ball of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), which represents garages, MOT testing stations and dealerships, said he was not surprised that two types of van featured among the top three failure rates.

    “It’s because of the high mileage they do and because many of the owners do not stick to the service regime,” he said.

    “They are reluctant to take them off the road if they rely on them for their living.”

    Mr Ball said his members often saw vans from courier companies that had recorded well over 100,000 miles within their first three years.

    The RMI said there was a case for vans to have an MOT test after one year, not three, just like minibuses, taxis and ambulances.

    “They are just not maintained properly – the biggest defects are with lights and brakes and lots of people are now cutting back on their servicing because of the recession,” Mr Ball said.”

    Still. It doesn’t really explain why the Ka and the Modeo (Contour) hover around the 20% failure mark but the Fiesta and Focus sit 5% below it.

  6. So basically if it has a light bulb out or worn tires it fails. Fair enough since this is a “roadworthyness” test.

    Without a detailed breakdown of why the viehicles are failing, mere percentages are meaningless.

  7. A few Australian States have annual roadworthy tests. The only one I’m familiar with is NSW which requires a roadworthy check on passenger cars on their fourth annual registration (after three years in service). However, all commercial vehicles must be checked annually regardless.

    The check is almost cursory. The fee is legislated at about AU$25. Focus is on lights and signals, brakes, tyres and windscreen. There is talk also of including exhaust testing. As vehicles get older then other stuff comes into play during the test including rust, general damage, seatbelt condition and the like.

    I would wager that most of the fails in the UK are due to damaged lights and worn tyres. Historically (1980s and 90’s), Transit vans used to rust with undue haste due to salted roads and lots of catch points in the chassis but to have rusted through panels in under three years in this day and age is….unlikely.

  8. The sad part of all this is all the people that will only understand the headline, “Ford Transit Connect one of the worst vehicles for repair”.

    They’ll take that info and run with it, and not ask any more questions after that.

  9. I Love my TRANSIT CONNECT. British built engine, USA built transmission, assembled in Turkey. It is a real world truck. Smooth ride, great mileage, it is a winner! DD from Redondo Beach, CA

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