2019 What Car? Reliability Survey

To help you choose the most dependable car, we've crunched the data on more than 18,000 vehicles, spanning 31 brands and 218 models to give each a unique reliability rating...

Reliability survey header 2019

Reliability has always been a key consideration for buyers of new and used cars, and it remains so today. That’s because, while no modern car is going to test your patience as often as one from the 1970s would have done, there remains a significant difference between the most and least dependable motors on the market.

And that’s why we run an annual Reliability Survey. This year, we’ve examined information from 18,119 readers about their cars, including details of any problems they’ve had in the past 12 months, how long each took to be fixed and how much they had to pay out for repair bills.

It’s those last two factors that we take into account to create our unique reliability ratings for each model and manufacturer, the cars with a tendency to be stuck in the workshop for the longest and those which cost owners the most to fix are penalised most heavily – not simply those that suffer numerous faults.

With the cost of defects covered by the manufacturer’s warranty on all cars up to three years old and some right up to the age of seven, you’d expect most of them to be fixed for free. However, just half of the cars we were told about were repaired under warranty, with 13% of owners having to pay more than £500 and slightly over 4% shelling out as much as £1500.

Our 2019 results reveal the dependability of the widest range yet: 218 models from 31 manufacturers. We’ve divided them into 10 classes and two age groups: up to five years old and more than five years old. The results have been filtered here to reveal the best and worst performers among the newer cars.

City and small cars 

Average reliability score for class 94.7%

Suzuki Celerio reliability

Most reliable Suzuki Celerio 98.9%

What went wrong? Gearbox/clutch 7%

Suzuki Celerio owners don't have much cause to return to Suzuki dealerships. A mere 7% reported a fault with their car, and only the gearbox was affected. While that sounds serious, all cars could still be driven and all were fixed under warranty in less than a week. 

The Honda Jazz has a strong reputation for reliability and backed that up in our survey. Only 11% had a problem and all were minor issues with non-engine electrical systems. All remained drivable and were fixed the same day, although some repairs cost up to £50. 

The Dacia Sandero is based on an old Renault Clio, meaning it’s full of proven parts. Just 11% of owners reported a fault, most commonly with the battery, then the exhaust, interior trim and non-engine electrics. All Sanderos remained drivable, but some took more than a week to fix and landed owners with bills of up to £100. 

Seat Ibiza reliability

Least reliable Seat Ibiza 2008-2017

What went wrong? Air-con 7% Brakes 4% Engine 4% Interior trim 4% Non-engine electrics 11% Sat-nav 4% Steering 4% Suspension 4%

The previous Seat Ibiza isn’t ageing well. More than a quarter (26%) were faulty, with non-engine electrics the most troublesome area. A third took more than a week to fix; less than half of the fixes were done under warranty and some cost up to £500. 

More (35%) Peugeot 208s went wrong, with suspension, engine and non-engine electrics the main culprits. However, all cars remained drivable and most work was done under warranty; only a small percentage presented bills, with these costing up to £300.

The Nissan Note was even more prone to problems: 41% suffered a fault, with the suspension troubling nearly a quarter of cars. All cars were fixed in less than a week; three-quarters were fixed for free and no repair bill exceeded £100. 

Reliability for city and small cars aged up to five years old

Rank Make and model Score
1.  Suzuki Celerio 2015-on 98.9%
2. Honda Jazz 2017-on 98.3%
3. Dacia Sandero 2013-on 97.9%
4. Skoda Citigo 2012-on 97.7%
5. Hyundai i10 2014-on 97.6%
6. Toyota Yaris 2011-on 97.2%
7. Honda Jazz 2008-2015 97.0%
8. Toyota Aygo 2014-on 96.9%
9.  Volkswagen Up 2012-on 96.6%
10. Skoda Fabia 2015-on 95.8%
=11.  Hyundai i20 2015-on 95.7%
=11.  Ford Fiesta 2008-2015 95.7%
13. Renault Clio 2013-2019 94.4%
14. Mini Hatchback 2014-on 94.3%
15. Mazda 2 2015-on 93.9%
16. Ford Fiesta 2017-on 93.8%
17. Volkswagen Polo 2018-on 93.0%
18. Fiat 500 2009-on 92.5%
19. Seat Ibiza 2017-on 91.3%
20. Audi A1 2010-2018 90.0%
21. Volkswagen Polo 2009-2017 89.9%
22. Vauxhall Corsa 2014-on 89.7%
23. Nissan Note 2013-2017 87.8%
24. Peugeot 208 2012-on 87.0%
25. Seat Ibiza 2008-2017 86.0%