When shopping for a new and used car, reliability is high on the list for many consumers, along with fuel economy and an affordable insurance policy. The motor trade has come a long way since an exasperated John Cleese was moved to beating his broken down Mini with a stick in Fawlty Towers, today’s new and used cars, given the right care and maintenance, can generally be trusted to start in the morning and get you where you need to go.
The question is, which manufacturers can be trusted to produce dependable cars, and are some models more reliable than others?
The best way to find out is to ask the drivers themselves, especially those who have owned their vehicle for several years. While some manufacturers place their marketing focus is on the looks and performance of their cars, others make reliability a large part of their unique selling point, like Volkswagen and Volvo. Both of these are associated with solid, dependable vehicles. This comes from driver surveys, in which cars from the Volkswagen group consistently get placed high up on the list for providing a reliable service.
There is a popular perception that the cars most likely to go wrong are either the cheapest, or the most expensive on the market, neither case is entirely true. Plenty of budget cars will provide years of trouble free service, whether they’re fresh off trade plates, or have passed through the hands of several owners already. Korean firm Kia is confident enough to offer a seven year warranty on its range of well-priced cars, and has built up a strong reputation for quality. For many years, Skoda was a byword for breakdowns and a whole series of jokes. Since the firm was bought out by Volkswagen, it has turned its reputation around to the point where its Yeti SUV is near the top of the new car charts for reliability and build quality, and the Citigo heads the list for small used cars.
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Nor are expensive cars likely to encounter ongoing problems, Lexus has three entries in the top ten for most reliable new cars, and the GS MK4 also comes out in front for used executive cars. In the used market, trustworthy family cars include entries from Mercedes, BMW, and Alfa Romeo, alongside less surprising candidates like the Renault Megane and Toyota Auris. The disadvantage of an expensive car is if things do go wrong, the cost of parts and labour from an official dealer is likely to be far greater than the equivalent service for those cheaper models.
The reality is modern new and used cars are almost guaranteed to be reliable, and a second-hand car up to three years old is very unlikely to give its owner any trouble. As long as it has been serviced regularly, hasn’t been involved in an accident or badly driven.
Most cars have plenty of life and miles in them, so enjoy the drive!