Some cars rarely end up in a garage between services and others can’t stay away. The What Car? Reliability Survey reveals the shining stars of the automotive league and the brands that constantly let the side down
Why do car buyers so often stick with the same brand, time after time? One of the biggest reasons is reliability.
Sometimes, though, the perception of a brandâ€™s reliability is at odds with the reality. The results of What Car?â€™s recent Reliability Survey have shown that the most expensive brands arenâ€™t always the most reliable. By the same token, the cheapest makes aren’t always the most unreliable.
14,208 owners of 169 car models up to three years old took part in the Reliability Survey by answering questions about any faults their vehicles had experienced in the past 12 months. These faults were correlated under 14 headings: battery, bodywork, brakes, engine, engine electrics, exhaust, exterior lights, fuel system, gearbox/clutch, interior trim, non-engine electrics, steering, suspension, and â€˜otherâ€™.
Owners were asked to specify how long their car spent off the road for any given fault, categorised in time periods from â€˜less than one dayâ€™ to â€˜more than a weekâ€™. Along with the cost of repairs (from free warranty repairs to â€˜more than Â£1500â€™) this information was this information was factored in with the seriousness of the fault. Problems that were the most expensive to fix and that kept the car in the workshop for the longest time were penalised most heavily.
Brands by reliability
5 Alfa Romeo
31 Land Rover
The first four places were taken by Japanese firms Lexus, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Suzuki. What might come as a shock to some is the appearance of Alfa Romeo in fifth place, buoyed by the 82.6 per cent reliability rating of the Giulietta.
Another surprise entry for many will be MG in eighth place. This company doesn’t sell that many cars, but the ones they do sell are generally reliable, with only minor problems reported that were all fixed under warranty at no charge.
Anyone expecting German manufacturers to feature high up in the table will be interested to see that the best-performing German marque was Audi in a relatively lowly 12th place. Although the A3 achieved a perfect reliability score, some 31 per cent of TTs had problems.
The next German brand was Porsche in 15th spot, only just on the right side of the halfway point of the 32-brand list. 34 per cent of BMW 5 Series owners suffered problems, dropping the Bavarian firm down to 17th. In 22nd and 23rd spots respectively, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz wrapped up a decidedly average performance by the â€˜premiumâ€™ marques. The Up was VWâ€™s least reliable car, 29 per cent of owners reporting problems, while 24 per cent of Mercedesâ€™ newer E-Class models showed up with issues.
Another premium make to feature well into the bottom half of the table was Volvo in 25th place, with 52 per cent of XC90s experiencing non-engine related electrical problems. The Chinese-owned company beat 26th placed Jaguar, however.
A big surprise was the appearance of Nissan in 29th place, brought down largely by the fact that 56 per cent of all Qashqais suffered from a fault, most commonly in the areas of batteries, bodywork and electrics. Problems with bodywork, interior trim, door handles, exterior lights and the electric motor put the American firm Tesla into 30th spot, with nearly 38 per cent of Model S owners reporting a fault.
Propping up the list in next to bottom and bottom place were Land Rover (31st) and Jeep (32nd). More than four in every ten Discovery Sports had a problem, and the Range Rover Sport was even worse with 60 per cent of owners advising of faults with the gearbox, engine and suspension. That gave the brand an overall reliability score of 50.6 per cent.
At the bottom of the heap with a 42.1 per cent overall reliability score was Jeep. 43 per cent of Jeep Renegade owners had had difficulties in key areas such as the engine, engine electrics and braking system, some cars being kept off the road for over a week.