Despite the high level of standardization in the automotive industry, there are still models that remain problem-free for years while others frequently require repairs. "What Car?" publication has helped us identify 25 car models to avoid due to their reliability issues within the first three years of ownership.
"What Car?" applied a proven formula by surveying over 14,000 car owners about their vehicle's reliability in the past 12 months. One-third of the respondents confirmed that their cars experienced at least one fault.
To categorize and rank the faults by frequency, owners were asked to select the area in which the problem occurred. There were a total of 14 categories, including battery, bodywork, brakes, engine, electrical system (related to the engine), exhaust system, exterior lights, fuel system, gearbox/clutch, interior trim, electrical system (unrelated to the engine), steering system, suspension, and others.
The publication also created a questionnaire where owners reported the time their cars spent in the workshop for repairs and the cost of those repairs. This information was used to create a unique ranking system that penalizes models with expensive and lengthy repairs while rewarding those that have proven reliable.
The research covered 169 models from 33 different brands. Let's take a look at some of problematic models which surprised us:
Volkswagen Polo (2009-2017)
Just over 20% of previous-generation Polo owners reported faults, with the most common being related to the electrical system (unrelated to the engine) – 15%, half of which were related to the air conditioning. Other issues included the start-stop system, rear camera, and infotainment screen.
42% of GLA owners reported some faults, but most (35%) were not significant enough to prevent the car from being driven. All issues were resolved within a week without any costs to the owners.
Overall, 28% of previous-generation Mazda3s experienced problems. Petrol-powered models were more problematic than their diesel counterparts. Suspension, steering system, and electrical system were the most serious areas of concern for petrol models. Not all repairs were covered under warranty, and over half of the cars spent more than a day in the workshop.
Volkswagen CC diesel (2012-2016)
40% of CC owners reported some problems with their vehicles. Many of them were related to the electrical system but not the engine-related one. Some repairs were not covered under warranty, and some cars were out of service for more than a week.
Citroen C4 Picasso/Grand C4 Picasso
Electrical issues greatly affected the satisfaction of C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso owners. 37% of the cars had some problems, with 22% related to the electrical system unrelated to the engine, particularly the problematic air conditioning. A significant portion of the problems was related to the suspension (15%), with a smaller percentage of repairs costing over £1,500.
Similar to the previous models, Ateca also experienced issues with the electrical system unrelated to the engine. 43% of owners reported problems, with 29% related to this area. Rear camera and automatic opening of the rear doors also caused headaches for owners. However, the majority of cars were drivable, and almost all repairs were done without additional costs.
If you happen to own one of these cars, make sure to explore our new blog post on car repair software. You never know when it might come in handy!
Data Source: "What Car?"