Norwich Union is warning the UK buyers of bargain-basement "grey" import cars that the short-term gain will be cancelled out in the long term by higher repair costs.

More than 100,000 grey imports – a term used to describe a vehicle that has not been built specifically for the British market – are expected to arrive in the UK this year. Typically, these vehicles are manufactured with left-hand drive for foreign markets.

Norwich Union research shows that owners of grey import vehicles may face spare part costs that are two to three times higher than the average.

They might also experience delays of up to three months for repair work, because the spare parts for these vehicles are not always readily available and may need to be sourced from overseas.

Car owners could also face increased insurance premiums and reduced resale costs.

Nigel Bartram, spokesman from Norwich Union, said: "If there is a delay or increased cost in sourcing a spare part on an insurance repair job, this may be reflected in claims costs and the customer's satisfaction."