Best and worst older family cars for reliability

Family cars need to be dependable; after all, who wants a car that breaks down with children aboard? Here, we reveal the most and least reliable family hatchbacks from four to 10 years old...

Audi A3 Hatchback (03 - 13)

5. Audi A3 2003-2013

What Car? reliability rating 66.8%

A hefty 39% of older Audi A3s had a problem. The most common related to the brakes, but there were also issues with the air conditioning, exhaust, engine and non-electric and gearbox. Two-thirds of the cars could still be driven, but none were fixed for free and a small percentage of repair bills exceeded £1500. 

2012 Seat Leon FR+ Supercopa review

What Car? reliability rating 66.0%

More than 42% of previous-generation Leons had a fault. The problems were split evenly between air-con, ngine and non-engine electrics, the exhaust, fuel system and suspension. There were also a small number of problems with the engine and lights. Although most cars remained driveable, the majority took around a week to fix. None were fixed for free and repair bills ranged from less than £50 to more than £1500.  

Read our full review of the used Seat Leon

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3. Ford Focus diesel 2004-2011

Ford Focus (04 - 11)

What Car? reliability rating 59.0%

A shocking 59% of diesel Focus owners reported a fault, with the most frequently cited relating to the engine (18%), followed by engine electrics and gearbox (both 14%), and the battery, brakes, exhaust, fuel system and suspension. Two-thirds of cars could still be driven and some were fixed the same day. Repair bills ranged from zero to £1000.

Read our full review of the used Ford Focus

See how much you could save on a new Ford Focus


2. Vauxhall Astra 2004-2010

Vauxhall Astra Estate (04 - 10)

What Car? reliability rating 58.3%

Although fewer Astra owners reported a fault (47%), there were problems in most areas of the cars. Engine electrics was the most frequently cited problem area, followed by the brakes and engine. There were also reports of problems with battery, exhaust, gearbox, suspension and wheels. Nearly two-thirds of cars were still driveable and a small percentage were fixed for free, but some repair bills topped £1500. 

Read our full review of the used Vauxhall Astra

See how much you could save on a new Vauxhall Astra


1. BMW 1 Series 2004-2011

BMW 1 Series (04 - 11)

What Car? Reliability Rating 49.0%

A whopping 58% of 1 Series owners reported at least one fault on their cars, with the battery and engine each accounting for 16% of problems. There were also problems with the bodywork, brakes, engine electrics, gearbox and suspension. Two-thirds of cars could still be driven, but some were off the road for a week or more. While a small percentage were fixed for free, other repair bills ranged from less than £50 to more than £1500. 

Read our full review of the used BMW 1 Series

See how much you could save on a new BMW 1 Series

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