Best and worst older cars for reliability: luxury cars

How dependable are cars as they get older? Here’s what the owners of luxury cars between six and 15 years of age have told us...

Jaguar XJ

Most reliable Jaguar XJ (2010-2019)

Reliability rating 94.9%

What went wrong? Non-engine electrics 6% 

According to owners, just 6% of Jaguar XJs suffered a fault and the only area to have an issue was non-engine electrics. Affected cars could not be driven and took up to a week to fix, with the cost ranging from £750 to £1000. 

Owner comment: “Look after it and it will last forever; I sold my last one after six years and 217,000 miles” 

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2009-2016)

Reliability rating 82.3%

Owners reported that 26% of Mercedes E-Classes had a problem, with the areas affected including the air-con, battery and engine. Most cars remained driveable and were fixed in less than a week, and while the majority of bills were less than £300, some were at least £1500.

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Audi A6 (2011-2018)

Reliability rating 82.2%

Fewer (21%) Audi A6s went wrong than E-Classes (above), but the Audi was rated lower because more than half of the faulty cars required more than a week to repair. Gearbox issues were the most common fault, affecting 7% of cars, followed by air-con and non-engine electrics. Some cars were fixed under warranty and only a few owners had to shell out £1500 or more. 

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Least reliable Audi A6 (2004-2011)

Reliability rating 52.0%

What went wrong? Non-engine electrics 13% Air-con 10% Engine 10% Battery 7% Brakes 7% Exhaust system 7% Fuel system 7% Sat-nav 7% Suspension 7% Engine electrics 3% Gearbox 3% 

Audi A6 (04 - 11)

Just over half (52%) of older Audi A6s went wrong, and although electrical problems were the most common complaint, engine and air-con faults weren’t far behind. In fact, there were issues in almost all of our fault categories. Half of cars lingered in the garage for more than a week and half of owners paid out £1000-£1500. 

Owner comment: “Repair costs over the past three years have amounted to more than £5000” 

BMW 5 Series (2004-2010)

Reliability rating 69.1%

The older BMW 5 Series is less dependable than the newer version. Around 39% of cars had a problem; the most frequently cited area was suspension, followed by non-engine electrics, then the bodywork and engine. Most cars were back on the road within a week, but the majority of repairs cost between £500 and £1500.

BMW 5 Series (2010-2017)

Reliability rating 75.5%

We were told that 37% of newer BMW 5 Series cars suffered faults. As with the older model (above), the main trouble spot proved to be the suspension, on 14% of cars in this case. Other areas with issues included the engine, exhaust and non-engine electrics. Not all cars could still be driven and most took up to a week to fix. While a third of repairs were done for free, nearly a third cost £1500 or more.