Jul 282011

Far Eastern CarsJapanese and Korean makes are still the best choice for a used car you can rely on, according to What Car? and warranty specialist Warranty Direct.

The new figures, released today, show that cars from European brands fail most often. However, based on Warranty Direct’s 50,000 live policies on cars of between three to eight years of age, they are also typically cheaper to fix.

Honda tops the standings in the annual car reliability study for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, recording an impressive 9% failure rate. The top 10 manufacturers all come from either Japan or Korea.

The combined What Car? and Warranty Direct study names British marque Land Rover as the least reliable brand, with 55% of its upmarket vehicles suffering faults in a 12-month period. Alfa Romeo (46%), Renault (45%) and Saab (43%) – all European brands – are the next most breakdown-prone manufacturers.

The top two European brands are Skoda and Smart in 11th and 12th respectively. Only they prevent an even stronger showing for Far Eastern manufacturers, by nudging ahead of Daewoo.

Most and least reliable car manufacturers

 Most reliable, Chance of fault in 12 months, Least reliable Chance of fault in 12 months

Honda9%35 LandRover55%2 Toyota14%34 Alfa Romeo46%3 Suzuki15%*33 Renault45%4 Lexus15%*32 Saab43%5 Mitsubishi15%*31 Jeep42%6 Mazda16%30 Chrysler38%7 Subaru17%29 MG37%8 Hyundai20%28 Mercedes34%*9 Kia21%27 Vauxhall34%*10 Nissan22%26 Audi33%

Warranty Direct compiles the data for its www.reliabilityindex.com website, which rates cars according to its ‘Reliability Index’ formula, taking into account repair costs, age, mileage and rate of failure; the What Car? and Warranty Direct annual study surveys manufacturers according to the number of faults in a 12-month period alone.

What Car? editor, Chas Hallett, said: “This year’s study is a stark reminder of the disparity in reliability between far Eastern brands, which dominate the top 10, and European brands, which contribute the bulk of the bottom 10.”

Manufacturers by average repair cost 

 Cheapest repair costs£, Most expensive repair costs£

Fiat241.6335 Porsche689.992 Renault242.2234 Mazda462.583 Ford253.9233 Jeep437.814 Suzuki255.1232 Mercedes-Benz428.135 Peugeot257.3331 Mitsubishi427.98

Meanwhile, the most expensive brand to repair is sportscar maker, Porsche, at an average cost of £690, followed by Mazda and Jeep, which cost £463 and £438 respectively.

In contrast, Fiat, Renault and Ford models cost the least to repair, at around £250 on average. European cars make up seven of the cheapest 10 brands to fix.

Further differences between European and Far Eastern manufacturers can be found in the problems they suffer the most. A third of faults found on European cars are down to electrical malfunctions, while owners of Japanese Subaru, Lexus and Suzuki cars report the most axle and suspension issues – accounting for nearly two in five of all their breakdowns.

Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher, said: “Car buying is a tricky business, but all most people want is hassle-free motoring.

“Finding a car that can be relied upon is one factor, a great place for that is www.reliabilityindex.com, and maintenance is another – even the most trustworthy vehicles need some TLC to keep going.

“While our study is the most comprehensive of its kind, we won’t see robust data on the very latest cars to be launched. We’ll have to wait around three years for that – nobody has a crystal ball to assess cars launched recently.”

The What Car? and Warranty Direct study is the most robust of its type in the UK, and up-to-date information can be found at any time at Warranty Direct’s www.reliabilityindex.com website.

Jul 192011

renault meganeThe car most likely to suffer an electrical fault is the Renault Megane, with a staggering one in three sustaining a malfunction each year, according to Warranty Direct.

With cars increasingly packed full of technical wizadry, it’s perhaps unsurprising that electrical faults account for 27% of all car failures, up by about 17% on five years ago*.

Overall, nearly four in 10 cars go awry each year and electrical problems are among the most common causes of breakdown, with repair bills running as high as £2,500.

While the Megane is not necessarily known for its gadgetry, the French hatchback’s electrical gremlins contribute to an overall failure rate of 50 per cent, with the Peugeot 607 and BMW’s sporty Z4 close behind as the next most likely cars to ‘short circuit’.

The top 10, compiled by Warranty Direct using data from the 50,000 live policies that contribute to its www.Reliabilityindex.com website, indicate a potential Achilles’ Heel for European cars, which feature exclusively.

Top 10 cars to suffer electrical faults

Make, Model, Chance of failure

Renault Megane (02-09)34.66% Peugeot 607 (00-10)31.28% BMWZ4 (03-09)29.86% Renault Modus (04- )29.61% Audi A2 (00-06)29.02% Land Rover Range Rover (02- )28.75% Land Rover Discovery (04- )26.94% Audi A3 (03- )26.58% Smart Roadster (03- )25.67% Audi A4 Convertible (05-09)24.44%

Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct said: “Electrical faults are extremely common and the amount of computer technology we demand in our new cars today is to blame.

“We pay a huge number of claims to fix highly complex systems such as the electronic control units at the heart of modern cars.

“Often problematic to put right, owners can end up visiting expensive franchised dealers to fix faults.”

Just under a third of drivers who own the opulent Peugeot 607 pay for electrical glitches, possibly due to its well appointed cabin and relatively luxurious specification.

BMW’s Z4, with its clever electric folding roof, is third, followed by another Renault and a brace of Audis and Land Rovers. The quirky Smart Roadster and A4 Convertible complete the rundown with around a quarter incurring problems with their electrics.

According to Warranty Direct, nearly four in 10 vehicles will develop a mechanical failure during any 12-month period. However, the figure varies dramatically depending on the make and model.

Warranty Direct cover starts from as little as £15 a month. For more information on the reliability of your vehicle, visit www.reliabilityindex.com, or go to www.warrantydirect.co.uk for a quote.

Jul 132011

Monster CarIf Dr Frankenstein built a car, it would surely look something like this – meet the Monster Mk1.

The Warranty Direct-inspired horror vehicle would break down every other month and cost an average of £2,050 to fix each year.

By uniting the cars with the worst profiles across the categories that make up its Reliability Index (www.reliabilityindex.com), a unique tool that measures car reliability by considering average cost of repair, frequency of failure, age and mileage, Warranty Direct reckons its ghastly creation is the stuff of nightmares.

The disastrous car cocktail draws its power from an MG TF engine, sits on the suspension of a BMW M3, has the electric workings of the Renault Megane, the gearbox of a Land Rover Freelander and the braking ability of the Audi A8.

Overall, the Monster Mk1 claims a Reliability Index figure of over 500 – more than five times that of the average car.

The ‘body parts’ of the ‘Nightmare MK1’

Make and Model Car part
Audi A8 Brakes
BMW M3 Suspension
MG TF Engine
Land Rover   Freelander Gearbox
Mercedes-Benz   V-Class Ignition
Renault Megane Electrics
SEAT Alhambra Air-conditioning
SEAT Toledo Heating &   Cooling systems
Volvo C70 Steering system


Overall, the Reliability Index shows that four in 10 vehicles require a trip to the workshop each year and some models can cost up to £7,000 a time to fix.

Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher, said: “The Monster Mk1 represents the worst-performing vehicles in every sector, from suspension to electrics, on our roads today.

“The wide range of cars included in our special blend highlights how mostly reliable cars can be dragged down by one problem part.”

Nearly 40 percent of BMW M3s require repairs to axle and suspension components alone each year, while the same proportion of Renault Meganes report an electrical fault.

One in five Land Rover Freelanders suffer transmission glitches each year and the same number of Audi A8s will need repairs to their brakes.

Close to a quarter of MG’s TF sports cars will experience engine troubles, while if you like keeping cool, beware the SEAT Alhambra; more than one in eight will need their air-con fixed during a typical year.

The Monster Mk1 was created using Warranty Direct’s database of 50,000 live policies on cars aged five years on average.

Warranty Direct cover starts from as little as £15 a month. For more information on the reliability of your vehicle, visit www.reliabilityindex.com, or for a quote on cover www.warrantydirect.co.uk.