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.