Which? Car Survey Which? Car Survey explained
The Which? Car Survey is the biggest and best in Britain. It gives real owners the chance to say what they love - and hate - about their cars.
The Which? Car Survey is the biggest survey of car reliability and satisfaction in the UK
What is the Which? Car Survey?
A great car must do much more than excel in the Which? Car road test. It must also impress a legion of everyday experts – car owners. Here’s how we factor in your feedback when scoring cars.
Our car survey is open for anyone to complete between December and March each year, via the Which? website, and has been the UK's largest survey of car reliability since 2007.
And our survey is unique because we ask about cars of all ages. That means, whether you’re buying a brand-new car or a banger, our comparative owner feedback will help you make a better choice.
To give you a truly comprehensive picture of what a car will be like to live with, we also take owner satisfaction into account when rating car models. So, if a car has suffered with lots of problems, and dealers haven't been helpful, it is likely to lose points off its overall score.
When manufacturers ask why a car has scored poorly in the survey, we share as much detail as we can to help them get to the root of a problem. So these results not only help us compare different cars, they also give carmakers a reason to keep evolving and improving their products.
We can tell you which cars could leave you stranded by the side of the road
Tested by us, rated by you
The Which? Car Survey helps us to fulfill the second part of our promise to consumers. While we cover the 'Tested by us' part of our tag line by conducting unbiased and comparable lab and road tests of hundreds of cars each year on UK roads, we don't get to live with the cars all year round as owners do.
Instead we ask you how dependable and enjoyable your cars have been to live with. The feedback we get from real car owners is used to complete the 'rated by you' part of our promise, meaning potential buyers will get an educated and in-depth understanding of how good a car will be to own from people who are already doing just that.
We welcome all feedback on all cars available in the UK, and every piece of information you give us becomes part of the overall rating for each car.
And not only do you get to influence the scoring for a car that you've owned by filling in our survey, it's free to do it.
If you own more than one car, you can tell us about each one separately, and we offer a cash prize to one lucky entrant each year.
Let us know about your experiences so we can use them to help other consumers
Car reliability by class
A car that won’t leave you stranded is high up on most people’s wish list, even if dependability isn’t the sexiest aspect of car ownership.
All our reliability ratings are out of five stars (with one being the least reliable and five being the most reliable).
We dig as deeply as we can into each car’s track record (going back to 2004). The overall reliability score is made up from the following:
Most serious faults - These are major problems that are likely to result in a breakdown, are expensive to repair, and likely to lead to the car being off the road for more than one day. For example, a cam belt snapping or entire engine failure.
Serious faults - Likely to result in a breakdown and will either be expensive to fix or keep the car off the road for more than a day. Examples include problems with the clutch or gearbox.
Medium-rated faults - Likely to cause a breakdown, but not be expensive or time-consuming to repair. Includes battery and brake issues.
Less serious faults - While unlikely to require immediate repair work, these are still costly to fix or likely to keep the car garaged for more than a day.
Least serious faults - Problems that are unlikely to need repair work, require less than a day off the road and are cheap to fix, such as exterior trim.
To take a closer look at summarised reliability ratings for all cars according to class, check out most reliable new cars of 2012.
We want to know what you love about your cars, as well as hate
Owner satisfaction with cars
Satisfaction counts for an awful lot when it comes to customer loyalty – a happy owner is likely to buy another car from the same manufacturer, and wholeheartedly recommend it to others.
That’s precisely why our survey asks owners to rate (out of five) how satisfied they are with their car, and also how likely they are to recommend it to a friend. By combining the response to these two questions, we’re able to award each car a Customer Score out of 100%.
This is a standard measure of satisfaction that is used by Which? for rating everything from energy companies to retailers, and it works equally well for cars. The average Customer Score in this year’s car survey is 81%, so look for models that score better than this if you want to find the best ones to own.