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Most and least reliable used cars: family cars

We name the most dependable – and most troublesome – secondhand cars aged from six to 20 years old, based on owners’ experiences...

Mazda 3

The most reliable family cars

1. Mazda 3 (2014-2019)

Reliability rating 99.3% 

The Mazda 3 is a great-looking family car with a range of frugal yet punchy engines. If you pick a petrol model, it should also be eminently dependable. A mere 4% of the examples reported on in our survey suffered a fault, and the only problem spot was non-engine electrical systems. Diesel versions don't do as well for reliability – see the table below to see their score. All faulty cars could still be driven, and all were fixed in a day or less. Even better, all repairs cost £50 or less, so no owners were left out of pocket. 

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2. Honda Civic petrol (2012-2017)

Reliability rating 96.2%

2015 Honda Civic - pricing, engines, spec and on-sale date

The Civic upholds Honda's strong reputation for very reliable cars. Only 6% of petrol models suffered a glitch, which is half the percentage for diesel models – although diesels still get a reliability rating of 93.6%. Problem areas for petrols include bodywork, brakes and gearbox. Most issues were minor and half of cars were repaired in a day or less. The rest were out of the garage in less than a week. Honda covered the cost of 25% of remedial work, 50% of owners paid out up to £500 and 25% needed up to £1500 to get their cars fixed. 

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3. Hyundai i30 (2012-2017)

Hyundai i30 (2012-2017)

Reliability rating 94.9%

Bodywork issues were the main bugbear of the 14% of i30 owners who told us their car had gone wrong in the previous 24 months. There were also some reports of issues with the brakes, electrics and gearbox. Forty-three percent of remedial work was carried out for free and no repair bills exceeded £200. And the work was carried out swiftly, too: 43% of cars were fixed in a day or less and the rest were sorted out in less than a week. 

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The least reliable family cars

3. Volkswagen Golf (2009-2013)

Reliability rating 68.1%

2011 Volkswagen Golf

The newer Golf is a less appealing prospect than the 2003-2009 model because it suffered lots of faults and was slower and more expensive to fix. Forty percent of the cars in our survey had an issue, with suspension the most common complaint, followed by engine and electrical system faults. Owners told us 37% of cars were in the workshop for up to a week, and 20% were without them for more than a week. Although 40% of remedial work cost less than £200, 48% cost up to £750 and 10% of bills ranged from £1000 to more than £1500. 

2. Volkswagen Golf diesel (2003-2009)

Reliability rating 66.1%

2004 Volkswagen Golf

A shocking 53% of the older Golf diesel models in our survey suffered at least one fault, making them a far less attractive prospect than their petrol counterparts, which have a 37% fault rate. The suspension was the biggest trouble-spot, accounting for 27% of all faults, and there were also lots of issues with the bodywork, brakes and fuel system. At least all cars were fixed in less than a week, and 86% of bills cost less than £300 per fault. Only an unlucky 14% paid up to £500 to get their cars fixed.

1. Vauxhall Astra petrol (2009-2015)

Reliability rating 50.5%

Vauxhall Astra front three quarters

Petrol-engined Astras are far more prone to problems than diesels: 44% of the cars we were told about went wrong, compared with 29% of diesels. Brake, air-con and engine problems were the most prevalent, followed by issues with the battery, bodywork, electrics, exhaust, gearbox and suspension. Thankfully repair bills were mostly reasonable: 70% of work cost £300 or less, although some owners paid out up to £1500. Three quarters of cars could still be driven and the majority of them were back out of the workshop in less than a week.

To read the data for other car classes follow these links:

Small cars here
Executive cars here
Luxury cars here
Small SUVs here
Family SUVs here
Large SUVs here
Luxury SUVs here
Electric and hybrid cars here
Sports cars here
MPVs here
Car brands here

Reliability of family cars aged six to 20 years old

Rank Make and model Score
1. Mazda 3 petrol (2014-2019) 99.3%
2.  Honda Civic petrol (2012-2017) 96.2%
3. Hyundai i30 (2012-2017) 94.9%
4. Honda Civic diesel (2012-2017) 93.6%
5.  Seat Leon diesel (2013-2020) 93.5%
6.  Toyota Auris petrol (2007-2013) 92.3%
7. Skoda Yeti petrol (2009-2017) 92.1%
8. Alfa Romeo Giulietta (2010-present) 92.0%
9. Ford Focus diesel (2004-2011) 90.0%
10. Honda Civic (2006-2012) 88.3%
11. Mazda 3 petrol (2009-2013) 88.2%
12. Seat Leon petrol (2013-2020) 88.1%
13. Skoda Yeti diesel (2009-2017) 88.0%
14. Honda Accord (2008-2015) 87.4%
15. Skoda Octavia petrol (2013-2020) 87.3%
16. BMW 1 Series (2011-2019) 87.0%
17. Mercedes A-Class petrol (2005-2012) 86.9%
=18. Nissan Pulsar (2014-2018) 86.7%
=18. Kia Ceed diesel (2012-2018) 86.7%
20. Vauxhall Astra petrol (2015-2021) 86.5%
21. Skoda Octavia diesel (2013-2020) 86.4%
22. Hyundai i30 (2007-2012) 85.9%
23. Toyota Corolla (2002-2007) 85.8%
=24. Citroen C4 (2010-2018) 85.3%
=24. Audi A3 diesel (2013-2020) 85.3%
26. Audi A3 petrol (2013-2020) 84.2%
27. Vauxhall Astra diesel (2009-2015) 79.3%
28. Mazda 3 diesel (2014-2019) 79.0%
29. Ford Focus petrol (2011-2018) 78.6%
30. Volkswagen Golf diesel (2013-2020) 77.7%
=31. Renault Megane (2008-2016) 77.0%
=31. Volvo V40 diesel (2012-2019) 77.0%
33. Volkswagen Golf petrol (2013-2020) 76.4%
=34. Ford Focus diesel (2011-2018) 75.2%
=34. Peugeot 308 diesel (2013-2021) 75.2%
36. Ford Focus petrol (2004-2011) 72.3%
37. Audi A3 (2003-2013) 71.4%
38. Skoda Octavia petrol (2004-2013) 71.2%
39. Skoda Octavia diesel (2004-2013) 69.5%
40. Volkswagen Golf (2009-2013) 68.1%
41. Volkswagen Golf diesel (2003-2009) 66.1%
42. Vauxhall Astra petrol (2009-2015) 50.5%

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