Least reliable older family cars

Family cars need to be dependable. To help you choose the best secondhand model we reveal the most - and least - reliable older models...

Audi A3 Personal Shopper

The five least reliable older family cars

5. Audi A3 (2013-2020)

What Car? reliability rating 77.7%

Owners told us that 25% of their previous generation A3s had gone wrong, with air-con faults the most common complaint. There were also reports of problems with the engine and suspension. No repairs were done for free, and bills ranged from £101 to more than £1500. That said, two-thirds of cars could still be driven and all were put right in less than a week. 

Used Ford Focus ST

What Car? reliability rating 75.6%

It's the petrol Focus that's letting owners down more often than the diesel; 39% of the cars we were told about suffered a fault. There were problems in a range of areas, including the battery, bodywork, engine and its electrical systems and the gearbox. Although half of cars could still be driven, a third took more than a week to put right. Around one in five cars was fixed for free, but most people paid out between £51 and £500 and some were faced with bills exceeding £1500. 

Read our full review of the used Ford Focus

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3. Volkswagen Golf diesel (2009-2013) 

2015 VW Golf

What Car? reliability rating 74.9%

Far more diesel-engined Golfs suffered faults than petrols (37% versus 8%). The exhaust and suspension were the most common problem areas, followed by the bodywork, brakes and engine. All cars could still be driven, though, and just over half were fixed on the same day. Most owners paid out £51 to £300, but 11% faced bills of more than £1500.

Read our full review of the used Volkswagen Golf

See how much you could save on a new Volkswagen Golf


2. Mercedes A-Class (2005-2012)

Mercedes-Benz A-Class MPV (05 - 12)

What Car? reliability rating 56.3%

A high percentage (40%) of older A-Classes developed issues, with the brakes being the most common trouble spot, followed by the air-con, engine and suspension. Most of the affected cars remained driveable, but a third lingered in the workshop for more than a week. Repair bills ranged from £51 to £750.

Read our full review of the used Mercedes A-Class

Used Skoda Octavia vRS

What Car? reliability rating 54.4%

A whopping 53% of Octavia owners told us their car had suffered a fault, and almost a quarter of those related to the engine. Other problem areas included the brakes, fuel system, gearbox, infotainment and suspension. On the bright side, three-quarters of the cars could still be driven and were back on the road in less than a week, but half of the owners paid out £501 to £1500 for repairs. 

Owner's comment "Catastrophe struck after I’d owned my diesel Octavia for less than a week. It needed a new engine and injectors” 

Read our full review of used Skoda Octavia

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