Best and worst older cars for reliability

How dependable are cars as they get older? Here’s what the owners of cars between five and 20 years of age have told us...

Whether you’re buying a used car as a second family runabout or as a first car for a novice driver, the last thing you’ll want it to be is an unreliable money pit.Image 1 of 62

While new cars come with manufacturer warranties that should cover the cost of any major defects that might occur for at least three years, you have far less comeback when it comes to older cars, and in many cases you’ll have to foot the cost of any repairs yourself. And that means you could be landed with thousands of pounds worth of repair bills.

To help you choose a dependable older car, we conduct the What Car? Reliability Survey each year. In the latest survey, we obtained data from nearly 13,000 car owners. We asked them to tell us if their car had suffered a fault in the previous 12 months and, if so, which areas of the car were affected.

The owners were asked to pick from 14 different categories for faults: air conditioning, battery, bodywork, brakes, engine, engine electrics, fuel system, exhaust system, gearbox/clutch, infotainment/dashboard, interior trim, non-engine electrics, steering and suspension. For each problem, we then asked the owners to tell us how much it had cost to repair, with the responses ranging from fixed under warranty for free to more than £1500. They also told us if the car could still be driven and how long it took to be repaired, from less than a day to more than a week.