The 25 most unreliable older cars
If you're buying a secondhand car, check our list of the least dependable so you can avoid the models that could let you down.....
Whatever type of car you're getting, if you're buying secondhand, reliability is an important consideration.
Help is at hand from the What Car? Reliability Survey. It is based on data from car owners and should help you buy a car that won't leave you stranded at the roadside or land you with sky-high repair bills.
We asked the owners of nearly 13,000 cars to tell us if their vehicles had suffered from any faults in the past 12 months. We classified the faults in 14 groups: air conditioning, battery, bodywork, brakes, engine, engine electrics, exhaust, fuel system, gearbox/clutch, infotainment/dashboard, interior trim, non-engine electrics, steering and suspension.
For each fault, we asked the owner to tell us how long the car was off the road and how much the repairs cost. This information was used to create a unique reliability rating for 175 models spanning 31 brands. Those that cost the most and kept the car off the road the longest gained the lowest scores, and those with few or no problems got the highest ratings.
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25. BMW 2 Series Active/Gran Tourer (2015-present)
Reliability rating: 78.3%
Owners of the earliest examples of the 2 Series Active/Gran Tourer told us that 32% of their cars had gone wrong; the exhaust and gearbox/clutch were the most commonly cited issues. Two-thirds of cars could still be driven and four out of five were fixed in less than a week. Although 11% of work was done under warranty, 40% of cars cost £500 to £1500 or more to fix.
24. Audi A6 (2011-2018)
Reliability rating: 76.7%
Suspension was the main problem area for A6 owners, accounting for 15% of reported faults. Overall, 30% of A6s went wrong, with other problematic areas including the air-con, brakes, engine, engine and non-electrical systems and interior trim. Although 60% of cars were back on the road in a day or less, only one in five was fixed for free. Other owners paid out £101 to more than £1500.
=22. Range Rover Sport (2013-present)
Reliability rating: 76.5%
Only 13% of Range Rover Sport owners reported a fault on their car, with the bodywork, gearbox/clutch and engine electrics being the most common gripes. However, a quarter of those cars were undriveable and two-thirds spent more than a week off the road. Almost half of the work was done for free, but 9% of bills totalled £1000 to £1500.
=22. Jaguar XF (2007-2015)
Reliability rating: 76.5%
According to owners, 35% of previous-generation XFs went wrong with non-engine electrical issues, the biggest trouble spot being the air-con. Other problem areas included the battery, bodywork and engine. Virtually all cars could still be driven, though, and more than half were repaired in a day or less, with 14% of the work done for free and the majority of owners paying no more than £500.
21. Volvo XC90 (2002-2015)
Reliability rating: 75.0%
Faults were reported on 23% of the XC90s we were told about. The most frequent trouble spots were the air-con, brakes, engine electrics and steering. However, about half the issues were rectified in a day or less and only one in five cars spent more than a week off the road. While 9% of work was done for free, other bills ranged from £51 to £1000.
=19. Volkswagen Golf diesel (2009-2013)
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.
=19. Mercedes E-Class (2002-2009)
Reliability rating: 74.9%
The E-Class is the least dependable older luxury car. Half of the cars we heard about suffered a fault, with the suspension and engine the most commonly cited areas. Although three-quarters of the afflicted cars could still be driven and half were fixed in a day or less, none of the work was done for free and owners paid out between £200 and £750 per fault.
18. BMW 6 Series Coupe/Convertible (2011-2018)
Reliability rating: 73.7%
Only 17% of 6 Series owners told us their car had suffered a fault, with the biggest issues related to non-engine electrics, followed by interior trim and steering. However, half of cars were rendered undriveable and 75% took more than a week to put right. No work was done for free and 50% of repair bills exceeded £1500.
17. Vauxhall Corsa (2006-2012)
Reliability rating: 73.0%
The Corsa may be popular among new drivers, but it's the least reliable small car. More than a third of respondents’ cars went wrong across a wide range of areas including air-con, the battery, brakes, the engine and its electrical systems. All cars could still be driven, but a third took more than a week to fix. Although 7% of cars were repaired for free, two-thirds of owners faced bills of between £101 and £500.
16. Porsche 911 (2004-2011)
Reliability rating: 71.9%
A third of 911s of this generation went wrong, according to owners, with just over half of those rendered undriveable and nearly three-quarters taking up to a week to repair. Problem areas included the air-con and electrics. Although 43% of work was done for free, other owners were left with bills of between £501 and £750.
15. Ford Mondeo (2007-2014)
Reliability rating: 64.8%
The Mondeo isn’t ageing as well as some rivals; 26% of previous-generation cars went wrong in areas such as the battery, brakes, engine electrics, gearbox/clutch and exhaust system. Nearly a third were undriveable and 11% took more than a week to fix. Most bills ranged from £51 to £500.
14. Mazda 6 (2007-2012)
Reliability rating: 63.5%
The Mazda 6 isn’t a particularly robust choice among executive cars. Just over a third of them suffered a fault, with the brake system, engine electrics and steering the biggest concerns. All cars were put right in less than a week and 42% of them in a day or less, but a third of owners were landed with bills of between £501 and £1500.
13. Volkswagen Touran (2003-2015)
Reliability rating: 63.3%
Nearly a third (29%) of Tourans had a problem, with owners citing the battery, brakes and gearbox/clutch as the most common causes of discontent. Virtually all cars could still be driven, but a third spent more than a week in the garage. No work was done for free and repair bills ranged from less than £50 to more than £1500.
12. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso (2014-present)
Reliability rating: 61.7%
A worrying 58% of Grand C4 Picassos went wrong, with the main areas of concern being the air-con, gearbox/clutch and non-engine electrics. More than a third of cars were undriveable and the same proportion spent more than a week off the road. The good news is that 27% of repairs were done for free and only 18% of owners faced bills of £1000-£1500.
11. Volkswagen Tiguan (2007-2016)
Reliability rating: 61.0%
Our data reveals that 38% of previous-generation Tiguans were faulty in a range of areas, including their suspension, gearbox/clutch, engine, exhaust and fuel system. More than a third couldn’t be driven and the majority took up to a week to put right. Although 19% were fixed for free, those who had to pay were landed with bills of £101 to £1500.
10. Vauxhall Zafira (2005-2015)
Reliability rating: 60.6%
The Zafira was the most unreliable MPV. Owners told us 35% of their cars had suffered faults spanning a wide range of areas from the battery and air-con to the gearbox and suspension. Twenty per cent of cars couldn’t be driven and more than a third took up to a week to repair. While most bills were between £51 and £500, around 20% of owners paid out between £751 and £1500 or more.
9. Volkswagen Passat (2005-2015)
Reliability rating: 57.9%
The previous Passat is the least dependable older executive car, with 53% of owners telling us their car had suffered at least one fault. Suspension problems were the most common affliction, followed by issues with the battery, bodywork, brakes and electrics. Nearly a third of cars couldn’t be driven and nearly half spent up to a week in the garage. Owners faced a wide range of repair costs, from less than £50 up to £1500.
8. Mercedes A-Class (2005-2012)
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.
7. Skoda Octavia (2004-2013)
Reliability rating: 54.4%
A whopping 53% of Octavia owners told us their cars had suffered faults and almost a quarter of those related to the engine; no wonder the Octavia is the most unreliable older family car. Other problem areas included the brakes, fuel system, gearbox/clutch 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.
6. Land Rover Discovery Sport (2014-present)
Reliability rating: 51.4%
Land Rover’s poor reputation for reliability is backed up by the fact that 43% of Discovery Sport owners reported faults, making it the least dependable older large SUV. The exhaust system caused the most complaints, followed by the brakes, electrics, air-con and engine. A quarter of the cars were undriveable and took more than a week to put right. Although a third were fixed for free, the rest incurred bills of £201 to £1500 or more.
5. Nissan Qashqai diesel (2014-2021)
Reliability rating: 46.3%
Faults cropped up in 38% of the Qashqai diesels we were told about, and although 20% were fixed under warranty, 35% cost more than £750 to sort and 15% topped £1500. Problem areas included the air-con, engine, infotainment, battery, engine electrics, fuel system and gearbox/clutch. Still, half of the faults were put right in less than a week.
4. Land Rover Discovery (2004-2017)
Reliability rating: 45.7%
The Discovery’s score is dragged down by the fact that 52% of the cars we were told about had gone wrong and a third of owners faced bills exceeding £1000. The main fault area was the suspension (27%), followed by the battery and engine (12% each). More than three-quarters of the affected cars could still be driven and were fixed in less than a week.
3. Nissan Qashqai (2007-2014)
Reliability rating: 45.6%
Although only 19% of older Qashqais had a problem, a third of them were rendered undriveable and 75% were off the road for more than a week. That's why it's the most unreliable older family SUV. The biggest areas of concern were the air-con, battery, brakes, engine and exhaust. A quarter of repair bills cost at least £1000 and many exceeded £1500, although a third of owners got off more lightly, with bills of up to £300.
2. BMW X5 (2007-2013)
Reliability rating: 42.6%
A shocking 53% of second-generation X5s went wrong, with the brakes, engine and suspension being the biggest concerns. Most repair bills were costly (between £301 and £500) and 9% of owners paid out more than £1500. On the plus side, three-quarters of cars could still be driven and the majority were repaired in less than a week.
1. Porsche Macan (2014-present)
Reliability rating: 40.4%
Although the Macan’s fault rate (36%) isn’t among the highest, it finishes last overall because 31% of repair bills exceeded £1500 and around 50% of owners had to pay £201 to £750. On the bright side, four out of five cars were fixed in less than a week, with only 15% needing longer to put right. Problem areas included the gearbox/clutch, engine and non-engine electrics, suspension, brakes, engine and fuel system.