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Which? Don't Buy cars

by Daljinder Nagra

Don’t Buy cars might be unreliable, unsafe, or simply awful to live with. The last thing you want from your shiny new car is buyer’s remorse.

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Why should you avoid these cars?

It takes a lot to make a car a Which? Don’t Buy. The car would have to be particularly unreliable, or disastrous to drive and live with. But one sure-fire way to earn the Don’t Buy badge is to be unsafe.

Over twenty years ago, Which? exposed major short comings in car safety by helping to set up safety organisation Euro NCAP. Today, nine out of ten cars have a Euro NCAP safety rating and if any vehicle gets a rating of three stars or fewer, it’s an instant Which? Don’t Buy.

As well as being safe, you also want your car to be reliable, and that’s where our annual survey comes in.

Every year, tens of thousands of drivers complete our annual reliability survey and tell us about the cars they own and any problems they’ve had. This feedback reveals breakdown and fault rates, and how long cars spend off the road being fixed. 

The worst cars are particularly prone to issues - the vehicles that get a bad rating from us have an average fault rate of about 50%. Meaning that half of all owners we heard from have had something go wrong with their car in the last twelve months. By comparison, the average fault rate for cars that get a positive rating is around 25%.

Every car review is updated every year with the latest reliability information so that you can see which cars are basically impervious to faults - and which ones will keep your local garage in champagne and caviar.

We’ve also created a reliability tool, so you can see at a glance which are the most reliable cars.

How Which? tests cars

We test over a hundred cars a year. This includes cars from big brands, such as Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Lexus, Toyota, Volvo and VW, as well as lesser known ones such as Ssangyong, Dacia and Suzuki.

Each vehicle we assess is subject to hundreds of tests in our lab, and will be driven on UK roads.

Our comprehensive assessments mean we can tell you everything about each car we test. From how well the car handles and drives, to how the suspension handles everything from potholes to the signature patchy tarmac of the British B-road. 

We’ll also reveal how practical a car is by revealing just how much usable space there really is.

  • Our fuel economy and emission tests reveal just how much you will really need to spend on fuel, and just how clean the car really is.
  • We don’t use manufacturer measurements. We measure every car boot ourselves and only list the usable space – not the nooks and crannies.
  • We also use dummies to work out how much head, leg and knee space there is for the driver and passengers.
  • Unlike others, we don’t give a subjective rating to how good the visibility is. We take measurements from all round the car using a rotating camera, measuring the 360-degree view from the driver’s seat.

Which? is independent – we work for you, the consumer, so you can be sure that our product recommendations are influenced only by our test results. We're not influenced by third parties and we don't accept freebies from product manufacturers or retailers. Our advice helps you to make the right choice first time and avoid costly mistakes.

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