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Car reliability

Most reliable car brands

By Martin Pratt

Article 2 of 2

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Looking for a reliable car? We've surveyed more than 43,000 car owners so we can reveal the most reliable car brands - and the least.

A reliable car is a car you can trust - it won't let you down. But no amount of test drives or chats you have with your local car dealer will tell you how reliable a car really is. Which is where our extensive car research comes in.

It's easy to see if you like a car - you're attracted to the design and the sound of the engine. You can see the car in the showroom, sit in the drivers seat and check how comfy it is, test the legroom, even put your pushchair or luggage in the boot and find out how much space is left. But you won't know your car has a long-standing problem until it's been to your local garage for the third time in two years. 

Buying a car shouldn't be a gamble - you shouldn't roll the dice and hope the car that looks so sturdy and robust on the forecourt won't sputter and shudder to a stop in the middle of the motorway with 10,000 miles on the clock.

Every year we survey thousands of drivers to find out if they've had any problems with their car. These can range from minor issues to catastrophic failures. We use the results to identify which brands make the most reliable cars.

An established brand with a household name is no guarantee of reliability. Likewise, a high purchase price is no guarantee of hassle-free ownership, and some leading brands perform rather poorly.

We know the reliability ratings of specific cars, too. Use our tool to see the fault rate and cost of repair of hundreds of models in our guide to the most reliable cars.

To unlock the Which? car reliability checker, Which? members should log in now. 

Not yet a member? Join Which? to unlock this page and see the car brands you need to avoid. You'll also get access to all of our online reviews, including our expert, independent new and used car reviews.


Most reliable car brands 

Only three brands managed a full five-star score for reliability for cars aged three and under, and also for cars aged three-to-eight years. Eight brands achieved four stars or more in both categories. 

That means 25 of the 36 brands in our survey got three stars or less for reliability in at least one age group.

A five-star score means that in the few instances the brand's cars did go wrong, they generated relatively low repair bills. This helps to cement our top brand's position as the most dependable car brand there is. 

Its saloon was our most reliable model overall. During the first three years of its life it had the lowest fault rate of the hundreds of cars we collected information from in our survey. 

Only Which? members can access our tool and see which manufacturers make the most and least reliable cars. Become a Which? member today to see the brands you need to avoid.


Least reliable car brands 

Common issues we found amongst the least reliable cars were problems concerning the suspension and the exhaust/emission system, which led to expensive repairs.

One of the most recognisable car brands in the UK is also one of the least reliable - just under half of owners reported issues with their car in the year before our survey. 

How are the UK's bestselling car brands rated for reliability? Become a Which? member today to unlock the table below and find out which manufacturers makes cars that won't let you down.

2018 car reliability table
Rank Car manufacturer Reliability 0-3 years Reliability 3-8 years
1 M ***** *****
2 M ***** *****
3 M ***** *****
4 M ***** ****
5 M ****  *****
6 M **** *****
7 M ****  ****
8 M **** ****
9 M **** ****
10 M ****  ****
11 M ****  n/a
12 M ***** ***
13 M ****  ***
14 M **** ***
15 M ****  ***
16 M ****  ***
17 M ****  *** 
18 M ****  *** 
19 M **** ***
20 M ***  ****
21 M **** ** 
22 M *** **** 
23 M **** ** 
24 M **** ** 
25 M **** **
26 M *** ***
27 M *** *** 
28 M *** *** 
29 M *** *** 
30 M *** ** 
31 M *** ** 
32 M ***  n/a
33 M ***  n/a
34 M ** ** 
35 M  n/a  **
36 M  **  n/a

n/a - not available or sample size too small


How we work out car reliability

The Which? Car brand reliability score is calculated from the number of breakdowns and faults suffered by all models in the past 12 months, reported to us through the annual Which? Car Survey.

Faults are weighted according to seriousness. So the more severe the fault and the more time the car is off the road, the harder the model will be hit in our results.

The scores for each of these areas are then combined to provide an overall reliability score for each manufacturer, which is represented by a star rating, with one star being the poorest and five the best. 

Join Which? today to unlock this page and see the brands you need to avoid. You'll also get access to all of our online reviews, including our expert, independent new and used car reviews.