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.

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. 

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.

Now you know how reliable Alfa Romeo's are, how well do they drive? Read our latest Alfa Romeo reviews here!

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin


  • 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.

  • Hank Gehman| 2nd January 2019 at 8:15 pm Reply

    I’ve owned my USA Stelvio since June, 2018 and haven’t had any problems.
    I did upgrade my battery to an AGM type for increased electronics reliability ( I had one very minor glitch which has never come back).
    Remember many or most of the sub-assemblies are German.
    The new Alfas are clean sheet cars and have nothing to do with the older Alfas that people think of. Once you look past the 2017’s (which were rushed) I’ll bet the reliability surveys will look very different.
    Judging from my friend’s experience with her new Audi, the Stelvio has it beat.

    • Richard Savary| 26th April 2019 at 12:31 pm Reply

      These may be “clean sheet cars,” but they absolutely DO have something to do with the older Alfas that people think of… They are made by the same company. I think it is true of most, or maybe all Italian cars… they are long on passion and driver enjoyment, but…they are probably all a bit short of such mundane values as reliability, durability and longevity. I don’t believe that old Alfas were loved BECAUSE they broke down, rather, they were loved DESPITE breaking down… They were loved because they were beautiful, unique and effective drivers’ cars, i.e. they were unlike any other car, EXCELLENT in other aspects, and breaking on occasion could be tolerated. Owning an Alfa, for a man (in the case I cite), is like having a beautiful, sexy girlfriend who tests your patience once in a while, but who is well worth that minor cost!

    • Rachel Richardson| 3rd January 2019 at 10:48 am Reply

      Hi Hank,
      Thank you for your comment. Everyone has a different experience with a car. This report was put together using figures from a company that provides data on repairs on a year on year basis. I am sure that your experience with a newer model of Alfa Romeo will be very interesting to our readers.

  • David| 27th September 2018 at 2:33 am Reply

    I am sorry to tell, but you have messed with the wrong brand!

    Old Alfas did have some issues concerning reliability, but they were loved precisely because of that. Those cars were so good giving hours of real driving pleasure that flaws were considered car personality.

    Since then many things have changed and Alfas are now truly reliable and, after some boring years, are finally showing again what a car should be, I mean much more than a mean of transportation. Must be said, few brands can do it.

    Now, if you want facts, even though I personally think car surveys aren’t reliable (if I must, I can explain why) , here they are:

    • Richars Savary| 21st April 2019 at 6:27 pm Reply

      I don’t believe that old alfas were loved BECAUSE they broke down, rather, they were loved DESPITE breaking down… They were loved because they were unique and effective drivers’ cars, i.e. they were unlike any other car, EXCELLENT in other aspects, and breaking on occasion could be tolerated. Owning an Alfa, for a man (in the case I cite), is like having a beautiful, sexy girlfriend who tests your patience once in a while, but who is well worth that minor cost!

    • Rachel Richardson| 27th September 2018 at 10:41 am Reply

      Hi David,
      Thank you for your feedback. The rankings are from the Reliability Index, but we understand that this is not the only information someone will look at when considering an Alfa Romeo. We are sure that our readers will find your opinion helpful when making their decision.

  • Gareth| 29th July 2018 at 5:38 pm Reply

    Owned 3 alfas a 156 a 159 a giuletta big miles in all of them and all of them utterly dependable. Then again so where my 8 Lancia’s which apparently should have broken down every time I used them if reliability indexes where to be believed. Its funny that the disparity between warranty based reliability and what consumers say. I know a few friends that owned alfas too theirs too have been good cars? begs a question?

    • Ian lee| 5th June 2019 at 9:16 pm Reply

      Well said people dont hesatate to pull alfa romeo and lancia apart .all my alfa,s and lancia,s have always been the best .ive had alot of cars in 30 years and my italian cars you will never come close from an alfaholic.

    • Abbie Rawcliffe| 30th July 2018 at 12:48 pm Reply

      Hi Gareth, this article is based on results from fleets, maintenance companies and independent consumer reports, with any product, there are always exceptions. Thank you for sharing your reliability experience with our readers.

      • gareth| 10th August 2018 at 12:54 pm Reply

        I have no doubt, I think human phycology plays a part though. A good friend has a golf that is always being repaired under warranty but he thinks its the most dependable car known to man and any faults must happen to other cars and will defend to the hilt…conversely because of alfas reputation if a tentative buyer thinks he is taking a risk but buys one anyway and a bulb blows. its probably because its an alfa. I think that makes sense 🙂

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