Are Alfa Romeo reliable? An honest look at the car brand

Are Alfa Romeos really as unreliable as they say? We investigate...

When you are looking at cars, reliability is an important factor. So important, in fact, that it is one of our top priorities when looking for a new car.  

But, is this the case for those who are looking at buying an Alfa Romeo? As Which said; “It’s widely accepted that anyone who buys an Alfa Romeo does so with their heart instead of their head”. Is this true? Are Alfa Romeo’s really that unreliable?

In this article, we look at whether Which are right, and whether Alfa Romeo’s are really as unreliable as people say, and how they fare against their competitors.

Are Alfa Romeo reliable?

No, is the short answer. As it stands, Which are looking pretty accurate with their summary of Alfa Romeo

Reliability Index gives them a rating of 214 for reliability, which is very poor. The UK Reliability Index takes into account the following;

  • The factors of a repair
  • The cost of the parts
  • The frequency of the failures
dark red Alfa Romeo Giulia driving fast down a road

The average of all cars is 100, and the UK average index is 118. So the lower the number, the more reliable the car is. And as we said, Alfa Romeo has a score of 214. Reliability Index state that the average age of an Alfa Romeo is 4.9 years old and the average mileage is 54,857 miles.

WarrantyDirect also scores Alfa Romeo as poor in terms of dependability.

However, if we look at the Auto Express reports from those that own the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the reviews are completely different. In fact, if we looked at those reviews alone, Alfa Romeo would look like one of the most reliable brands around.

That said, Auto Express, themselves have said that there is a problem with reliability, and in their Driver Power Survey of 2015, the Giulietta came 69th, which is quite a fall from the top ten when it debuted in 2013.

And of course, in the Which survey, Alfa Romeo came in the top 5 for most unreliable car manufacturers, with a reliability score of just 69%.

Everything but the driver reviews are telling us that Alfa Romeo are unreliable cars.


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How reliable are consumer reports?

Because everyone but the actual drivers are telling us Alfa Romeo are unreliable, how do we know if the consumer reports are reliable themselves?

To be honest, they are pretty reliable. Consumer surveys ask those who own the cars, and they also draw upon recalls and faults. 

Red Alfa Romeo 4C parked on a road

WarrantyDirect, who work with Reliability Index, gather their results from their own data. WarrantyDirect sell extended warranties and have over 50,000 cars to gather their data from.

So, they are pretty reliable.

Why are the drivers on AutoExpress telling us differently? It could just be the people who are commenting. Consumer reports have a much wider range of people to gather results from, and the sample on AutoExpress is considerably smaller than the ones WarrantyDirect have had.

All in all, consumer reports and surveys are probably the most dependable way of knowing the longevity of a car. 

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Why are Alfa Romeo’s unreliable?

There are a few reasons why Alfa Romeo’s are considered unreliable.

According to Reliability Index, one of the main problems falls to the Axle and Suspension.This accounts for 25.91% of all faults. Electrical faults come in second with 18.13% of the faults.

Jalopnik has said that the car’s quick development time could be to blame for the unreliability of the car. The Alfa Romeo Giulia was developed in just two and a half years. This is nothing compared to the six years Mercedes tend to spend, or the seven years Volvo spent developing seats for their new XC90.

However, Alfa Romeo is rebranding, according to Alfa Romeo. Well, at least in Australia. It has been reported that the new Giulia will come with a three-year, 150,000km (almost 100,000 miles) warranty, which is considerably better than some of their rivals. They are also offering a three-year capped-price servicing deal. Unfortunately, this is only happening in Australia as far as we know. But that’s not to say they won’t bring this incentive over to Europe should it go well down under.

Navy Blue Alfa Romeo Giulia on white background

Alfa Romeo are not the only ones that have had to rebrand after reports of unreliability. The likes of Fiat, Skoda and Dacia have done the same. And look how successful those brands are now.

Common Alfa Romeo problems

If you are buying a used Alfa Romeo or you are simply looking towards the future then you should be aware of the common problems that people face with Alfa Romeo’s. These include;

  • Suspension problems
    • The front suspension can fail, and you will know this if you hear a knocking noise
  • Door alignment problem
    • This is more common in the 159 and you can tell if there’s a bit of a breeze coming in

So it’s worth looking out for these if you are looking for a second hand Alfa Romeo.

2017 Yello Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Profile
Red Audi A4 on a driveway with grass in the background
white lexus nx estate from the side in wooden warehouse

Alfa Romeo vs. Audi vs. Lexus

While there are many that will associate Alfa Romeo with small cars that compete with the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Polo, Alfa Romeo see themselves as a premium brand. Therefore, we are going to treat them as such and compare them to rivals Audi and Lexus.

Audi don’t fare much better than Alfa Romeo when it comes to dependability. It is a common misconception that German brands are reliable cars, because this isn’t the case at all. In fact, they are some of the most unreliable brands out there.

In a separate survey by the Telegraph, the engine failure rate in Audi’s is 1 in 27. This made it the second most unreliable car in the UK, with only MG beating it.

Another study reported by the Express found that Audi came 28th out of 36 for reliability. It did beat Alfa Romeo, however, who came 33rd.

Lexus, on the other hand, are in a whole different league. Consistently in the top 10 for reliability, Lexus came 6th in the Telegraph survey, with just 1 in 101 vehicles suffering engine failures.

They also topped the J.D Power Dependability Study this year (2017). So Lexus are considerably more reliable than both Audi and Alfa Romeo. This could be because their parent company is Toyota, a brand famous for their reliability. But that doesn’t matter, the point is if you are looking for the most reliable out of the three, then the Lexus is your best bet. Audi is second, and unfortunately, Alfa Romeo is very much last.

In conclusion, Alfa Romeo aren’t too reliable. Their fast development time could be the reason for this. Many surveys and consumer reports put Alfa Romeo at the bottom end of the scale in terms of reliability, though there are drivers who say that they have had no problems with their model. All in all, it seems that Which were right, and those that get an Alfa Romeo get one because they want to, not because they are reliable. But, that tends to be the case with most cars anyway. That said, if you do want to choose a car with reliability at the forefront of its strengths, then an Alfa Romeo probably isn’t for you. Interested in other manufacturer’s reliability? Let’s explore Alfa Romeo’s competition here.


Request a call back and one of our specialists will find you the perfect Alfa Romeo to suit your lifestyle and budget.

Rachel Richardson
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  • Thomas Davis| 25th April 2020 at 2:54 am Reply

    Despite the negatives, I am drawn to Jaguars and Alfas. I no longer work on cars, so I need a mechanic who works on these brands. The mechanic where I take my Mercedes says he doesn’t work on Jaguars “unless he doesn’t have to.” There is no one within ninety miles of here that might…MIGHT work on Jaguars or Alfa Romeos. So I keep a few thousand in a slush fund to see to repairs etc. I don’t care. That’s part the cost of keeping one of these cars running

  • Bogdan| 31st December 2019 at 4:54 pm Reply

    Before my first AR i ahve been owning a leading quality German cars. And all my impresion when I have switched over was, that I have been always driving a faulty or defected car. Since 2013 for another 4 years I was owner of Giulietta 1,4 TB MA TCT 170 HP, 4 years and – nothing. Tu be honest, there was problem with electrical lock of the back door. Water was entering over the logo push button for opening and rusting contacts of micro switches and that all. Driving fabulous. During that time was in use A3 and A Class. How many times with them have been visiting service with small and bigger problems I have lost count on it. So that I am some special or what? I am always surprised with reporting of the low reliability of the AR. I have one knowledge, Giulietta never failed on the road. Never happen that I had to call high way service for help, as the car with no reason just refuse to go. And what was excellent with the AR that not so obvious with the leading in reliability German motorized barrows as I call them by my own experience. For them fail and stop was just obvious, normal condition. Now has second AR, this time Stelvio Quadrifoglio adn C class Coupe. Stelvio 1,5 year and C Class AMG 2 months less. With Stelvio no any problem so far. And Merc just keep similar performance to the A class before. Within one year 2 times on the tow truck and plus 2 extra visits in the service. One on the signal as some hose on the cooling has burst and was leaking. Service was just behind the corner, so I could manage. But in reliability Merc is much higher of course. And as before with Giulietta I can evaluate it myself comparing both brands. And if I will look for next car, I will look for Maserati or AR again. And always purchase a factory new car. So have direct comparison.

  • Teti| 7th October 2019 at 10:25 am Reply

    We have alfaa in our family for very long yes, we had renaults, opels, vw, audi, fiat …. Our 159 is very old and it had few bigger repairs. We don’t have money for younger cars. Most people who soit on AR are those who drive themselves boring and unrealiable cars. I watched a video about a Mercedes from 2001, which was very popular and it impressed me too till the part where they found so many problems e.g. it coroded much under. Somebody mentioned that the hate to AR is psychological. It is true. People who drive for example german cars say always:”oh, but alfas are so unreliable”. Have you ever driven one? Do you know the past of the car owner. It is a fact that most guys destroy the car and sell it like this. We had this problem. We also own a mito, and we had never problems. I think that the writer of the article was either paid to write how people lie about their experiences a or he doesn’t know that every car has it’s flows

    • Rachel Richardson| 7th October 2019 at 1:11 pm Reply

      Hi Teti,
      This article was written using information from multiple sources, we aim to ensure that every piece we produce is both helpful to our readers and 100% unbiased. Ee are certainly not paid by any manufacturer to present innaccurate or biased information that will misinform.

      We understand that there is a very strong customer loyalty towards multiple brands, with Alfa being one. However, our article was written utilising information that was, at the time, up to date and obtained from consumer survey reports and data from warranty companies that look at data from a very balanced perspective.

  • Jason| 8th August 2019 at 12:52 am Reply

    You are neglecting the results of quite a few recent surveys. The Giulia was the third most reliable premium midsize car in Whatcars survey. Autoexpress also ranked Alfa Romeo in the top 5 most reliable brands last year. They also finished ahead of BMW and Audi in both surveys. BMW finished dead last in one of them.

    Also, I don’t think you should use Jalopnik as a source for information on Alfa Romeo reliability. They have a serious grudge against the brand. Search their website for “Alfa Romeo” and you will see nothing but articles that are slating Alfa (always based on anecdote and conjecture) and almost nothing positive at all. It’s gone beyond reasonable comment now and appears to be fuelled by a vendetta against the brand.

    • Rachel Richardson| 8th August 2019 at 9:52 am Reply

      Hi Jason,

      Thank you for your comment. We appreciate that many people are incredibly loyal to specific brands, especially Alfa. This article, and several other reliability pieces we have on the site are currently in review and will be updated with the latest data from multiple sources in order to get a balanced overview of the brand. Throughout the article we have cited several different resources where we have obtained information about reliability and never rely on one site or consumer survey in order to produce information which is unbiased.

  • Richard Savary| 21st April 2019 at 6:18 pm Reply

    “In conclusion, Alfa Romeo aren’t too reliable. Their fast development time could be the reason for this. Many surveys and consumer reports put Alfa Romeo at the bottom end of the scale in terms of reliability, though there are drivers who say that they have had no problems with their model?”

    I might have “no problems” myself, even if I did have to do some mechanical work… I just got back to Boston from Rome, and while there I saw a 4C scooting quite fast through traffic… it looked like a blast! The thing is, if one likes a car enough, we can tolerate a few reliability problems. This car is FANTASTIC (in most ways; see below). These cars are exceptional, is almost (again…) every way EXCEPT reliability, and they are not cheap, so presumably, most buyers can swing repair costs if necessary, so that minor problem can be tolerated.

    The one aspect of these cars I CANNOT tolerate is the lack of a manual transmission! I can hardly believe that a sports car company (or any company that makes drivers’ cars) that is self-respecting can offer cars without one… To me, fully 1/2 of a driver’s pleasure comes from shifting the MANUAL transmission! Any car without a nice, refined 5 or 6-speed, on the floor between the buckets (WITH A MANUAL CLUTCH), is a NOT A DRIVER’S CAR!

    It might as well be a soccer-Mom’s VAN. I’d ALMOST rather drive a van with a MT (if there were such a thing), than a 4C without one!

    • Bobby Bridgland| 27th July 2019 at 11:54 am Reply

      To Richard S…. I love Americans! A van with an MT ( If there is such a thing )….. Effing brilliant! But agreed, a drivers car should be manual. In the UK Automatic is rare… EVEN IN VANS!!!!! But as a myriad car owner, with over a million miles of road driving over decades, what makes the Alfa special is simply the way it drives. The older Alfa GT was an excellent example. I`ve had 3 GTs, but also owned Audi, BMW. Mercedes, Ford, Mitsubishi ( Starion Turbo 2.0 ltr was amazing ), Toyota. Lotus and on and on…..

      ALFAS ARE NOT THE EXPERTS FAVOURITE AT TOP GEAR FOR NOTHING !! The engines in the diesels are bomb proof, with high performance and economy. The 1.9 JTD in my experience will out strip most Audi/Merc/BMW and Jap equivalents in the same engine size. Driving and Alfa is like driving a high performance cloud. Audi/Merc/BMW are a harsher more disconnected drive ride.

      The only downsides do seem to come from the suspensions / assemblies with rattles that can happen ( Alfas don`t like pot holes! ) But can be fixed easily and cheaply.

      I have a sneaky suspicion that their quirky leg assemblies may hold the secret to their unique drive feeling.

      • Johann Bottos| 3rd November 2019 at 6:27 pm Reply

        Agree with you Bobby, having owned in 3 years an Audi S3, a 147 and a Bravo 1.6mjet I don’t agree with this myth going on and on about Alfa’s braking down etc.. And about how it drives only people who have no clue would put it under say VW or Audi. In the curves my 2003 Audi S3 didnt stand a chance against the 147. The s3 was a heavy , underperforming brick next to the agile, sporty 147. The front would just lower while turning and it inspired so much confidence. I was on an A3 of the same year and the difference in handling with the 147 was huge like a tank next to a butterfly. Also the 1.6mjet on my Fiat (I believed shared with Alfa)) has been the most reliable engine I have ever had.

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