Is Dacia Unreliable? An Honest Assessment of the Brand

We take a look at how reliable Dacia really is...

Dacia. The comeback kid of the automotive world. Once a communist-state owned company, Dacia are now owned by Renault and thriving.

You may have noticed how many Dacia’s are currently on the road, there seems to be more and more every day. They are becoming an ever increasing sight on the UK road network, and for good reason. Their cars are affordable, they are now well built and they are reliable.

That word; reliable. Reliability, or unreliability, has plagued Dacia since the days they were owned by the State, with it not uncommon to see drivers fixing their cars on the side of the road. And though that was a long time ago, and Romania no longer a communist country, the unreliability tag seems to have stuck.

But is this still the case? Are Dacia still as unreliable as they once were?

In this article, we look at everything to do with reliability and Dacia, including comparing it to some of its main rivals.

Is Dacia unreliable?

Contrary to popular belief, Dacia’s are pretty reliable. In fact, they are very reliable. The AutoExpress Driver Power survey of 2016 but Dacia in third place for dependability, with a score of 96.17 out of 100. This was higher than Toyota and Honda. The only two that beat it were Tesla and Lexus. For a budget car brand, that’s extremely impressive going.

Owner reviews are just as good. Both the Duster and Sandero receive an average of 87.83% on AutoExpress, with the reliability coming in as the highest ranking. The reviews on carbuyer are mainly positive, with a few negative reviews thrown in there. But overall, drivers seem to be very happy with their Dacia’s.  

Black Dacia Duster off road on a muddy track surrounded by grass and a muddy puddle

However, there were reports of rust a few years ago. There were reports from customers about issues with rust on the Dacia Dusters. As a response, Dacia instigated a fix and offered an inspection and a free repair for the affected vehicles.

It was rumoured to be the reason that Dacia moved their production from India to Romania, where they already produced their left hand drive cars. However, Dacia said that this was not the case and it was purely coincidental. Regardless, there was an issue with rust a few years ago. However, that seems to have been cleared up and Dacia are currently on the top of their game when it comes to reliability.

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Why are Dacia reliable?

These results may come as a bit of a shock to some, as it is widely assumed that Dacia produce unreliable cars.

One of the reasons Dacia have been considered unreliable is because at one point in their history, they were. But as we mentioned before, this was in communist Romania, a country that was shut off from the rest of the West and therefore lacked the technology and had yet to develop their own technology to improve their cars. That’s essentially the reason they were so unreliable.

Dacia Sandero Stepway side view blue paint off road on rock track

But Romania haven’t been communist since the revolution in 1989, so why do people still think Dacia are unreliable?

Possibly because they are so cheap. Dacia produce some of the cheapest cars on the market, and definitely produce the cheapest SUV’s. In fact, some of their SUV’s cost less than many city cars. So people assume that cheap = unreliable. Yet, this has been disproven several times in regards to several different things, particularly with cars.

It is assumed that the more executive and expensive the car, the more reliable. When this is not the case at all. And one of the reasons this is not the case is because of the amount of technology that is in these cars. While this extra tech is great for drivers and it makes the car more appealing, it is not always reliable. Many have put unreliability down to an increase in complicated technology that is prone to problems.

And Dacia? Well, Dacia doesn’t have any of that. Dacia are all about keeping costs low, meaning that you won’t be getting a lot of complex technology. The drivers know this, and it’s why people choose Dacia’s. But this means that there are no problems because there is no complex technology to go wrong. That’s not to say there isn’t technology on board a Dacia, it’s just not as advanced as the tech you would see in an Audi or Mercedes. And that simply means that they are more reliable.

Not only that, but they are also cheap to repair. The parts are common and easy to source, meaning that you won’t have to fork out a fortune for the repair costs.

So there are a few reasons why Dacia are reliable.

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How reliable are consumer reports and surveys?

It’s at this point in the article where we justify our use of consumer reports and surveys in determining reliability.

Consumer surveys are accurate because it’s owner feedback. This means that those who drive the car every day are able to give feedback on how dependable, or not dependable, their car is. 

We also use reports from the likes of WarrantyDirect, who provide extended warranties for many makes and models. When someone makes a claim, they can record this. They then use this data to come to an informed conclusion about which makes and models are the most reliable and which ones aren’t. 

The only problem with customer surveys is that you can’t know the longevity of a brand new car. Therefore, you won’t get a completely accurate judgement until the car is a few years old. Many, such as J.D Power, use predicted dependability, which is usually quite accurate. 

Overall, using consumer surveys are a good and unbiased way of knowing how reliable a car is.

women talking on the phone whilst on a laptop - safety features to look for

Common Dacia problems to look out for

When you are looking at a car, particularly a used one, then there are things that you should be looking out for. Some of the common problems for Dacia include;

  • Faults with the catalytic converter
  • Problems with the engine management systems
    • These aren’t too common, but some have been reported.
  • Rust
    • As we mentioned earlier, rust has been a problem for Dacia. If you’re looking at a used Dacia, then make sure that you check carefully for any signs of rust.

If you are looking at a used Dacia, then it’s worth asking the person selling if they have had some of these problems.

Dacia vs. Peugeot vs. Renault

It can be difficult to decide who to compare Dacia to in terms of rivals. In this section of the article, we have gone for brands that produce cars similar to the Duster rather than going by price.

Both Renault and Peugeot also fare pretty well in terms of reliability. However, in the survey that put Dacia in third place, Renault and Peugeot were quite a bit further down the list. Renault came 11th, with a score of 93.72 and Peugeot were 13th, with a score of 93.09. These aren’t bad scores by any means, and they’ve done considerably better than many luxury brands, but they don’t quite meet Dacia’s third place.

Red Peugeot 2008 driving round a corner

However, in a survey by motoringresearch, Peugeot come out on top in 5th place with 92 problems per 100 vehicles. This is compared to Renault who came 14th with 116 problems per 100 vehicles. And Dacia? Well Dacia didn’t fare too well in this survey at all, coming in at 23rd with 174 problems per 100 vehicles. Which is quite a lot. However, this was in 2016, and the AutoExpress survey was this year (2017). So I think we can say that it averages out.

Overall, though, it seems that these brands are pretty reliable. That said, Renault and Peugeot have been consistently reliable for a longer period of time. This isn’t necessarily Dacia’s fault, of course, they have only just made their big comeback. That said, if you’re looking for reliability and price, then Dacia is the car for you. But, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more for increased reliability then you might want to look at Renault and Peugeot.

In conclusion, Dacia are surprisingly reliable. This is considering their past reputation and the fact that their main focus is keeping costs as low as possible. They are so reliable that the AutoExpress have put them third in their recent reliability table. That said, their main rivals, Peugeot and Renault, have been reliable for longer. Whether this means that they are actually more reliable remains to be seen, but if you are willing to spend a bit more money for a brand that is assuredly reliable, then it could be worth looking at a Renault or a Peugeot. However, if you have faith in the most recent reliability tests and you want to save as much money as possible, then a Dacia is perfect for you.

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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

25 Comments

  • Steve Edwards| 5th October 2019 at 3:19 pm Reply

    I was just going out to buy a duster, don’t think I’ll bother after reading this

    • Rachel Richardson| 7th October 2019 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Hi Steve,

      Dacia have improved since this article was written.

      However, if you are looking for a new vehicle perfectly suited to your needs that has the look of the Duster, please get in touch with Amanda on 01903 223391 and she will be able to pass you to one of our experienced vehicle specialists.

  • ian duncan| 27th September 2019 at 7:33 pm Reply

    Bought a 4 year old Diesel sandero last May..Great car, and 18000 miles later still a great car. I do all the servicing myself and these are great straightforward cars to work on. well sprung for bad roads, steel wheels, easy to get into, tough interior and easy on fuel,,65mpg usually..Plenty of room in the back seats, and I conclude by saying they are well screwed together, low tech using tried and tested Renault components..

    • Rachel Richardson| 1st October 2019 at 9:45 am Reply

      Hi Ian,

      Many thanks for your comment about the Dacia and your experiences with the Sandero. We are sure that many who are looking to purchase a Dacia model will find your feedback very helpful when they are considering their next vehicle.

  • brian| 2nd September 2019 at 2:29 pm Reply

    my duster broke down with a faulty injector with only 34,900 miles on it not under warranty as it was just over three years old have never had a injector go even on cars that i have had with 180,000 miles renault not interested patronising and condescending ,would not by another

    • Rachel Richardson| 5th September 2019 at 9:58 am Reply

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your comment on the Dacia Duster. We hope that you find resolution to the issue you have been experiencing. We would recommend checking owner forums to discover if this is an issue that many owners have experienced.

      If you are thinking about getting another vehicle, we are guessing it won’t be another Duster, please get in touch with Amanda on 01903 223391 and one of our experienced vehicle specialists will be happy to help.

  • Alex Expat| 26th August 2019 at 11:17 am Reply

    My wife’s 2007 Logan MPV (diesel van with 7 seats) has just passed its 290000kms. (This is in France) The car was bought in 2012 I think with 150k kms on the clock. Reliability: Nothing to criticise. Oil changes easy to do one’s self. Electrics easy to fix. Expect the odd track rod knuckle to go. One criticism for the coal burner is whoever designed to put the diesel filter hidden behind the front right wheel arch rather than higher in the engine bay needs his butt kicking. Our diesel is the atmospheric version, so speed & acceleration are not to be expected. A friend with a similar model with the turbo motor, had to replace the turbo at 280000km. I concur that rust does appear in a few places: On ours, it is the lower edges of the passenger doors which are affected. As the vehicle does not owe us anything, the unsightly remedy will be a good go with the wire brush & 2 thick coats of Hammerite.
    Last comment on the person with problem of starter motor availability: This side of the channel Oscaro.com have most electrical parts readily in stock & can be despatched within 3 days. Sorry, VALEO, a French comany have hoovered up the majority of electrical, windscreen wiper & brake parts manufacturers & the dealer is selling a line of corporate …. Those parts are often interchangeable with older Renaults & are normally available. Hope this is helpful

    • Rachel Richardson| 28th August 2019 at 11:46 am Reply

      Hi Alex,
      Thank you for your incredibly detailed comment on the reliability of Dacia as you have experienced it in France. We have no doubt that many of our readers will find it incredibly helpful if they are looking at this manufacturer for their next vehicle. Also, the provision of details as regards the supplier of parts for repair is also incredibly useful for anyone who has a Dacia already.

  • Nicola Symonds| 29th July 2019 at 9:48 am Reply

    Got a secondhand 64 plate Logan back in April, a week later the engine was playing up really slow no power, took to dealership, got it fixed a new part was needed. 2 weeks later same thing happened again this time another part needed replacing. 3 weeks later again slow pulling away and up hills, another new part needed. Today, 8 weeks after the last breakdown and 5 days before we go on holiday the car is slowing and no power. Getting really fed up with this. WORST car we’ve ever had.

    • Rachel Richardson| 1st August 2019 at 9:13 am Reply

      Hi Nicola,

      Though we are not legal advisors, it seems as though you may have a good case for ‘Not fit for purpose’. We would suggest you go back to the dealership, saying that they have had four opportunities to resolve the problem and therefore the vehicle is not fit for purpose and you would like to return the vehicle for a full refund or you will consider legal recourse.

      If you have finance secured against the vehicle you should also contact the Finance house and tell them that the vehicle isn’t fit for purpose as they have a legal responsibility to ensure that it is.

      If you would like to go for a new car next time, please get in touch with us, you would be surprised at the good value they are these days. Call Amanda on 01903 223391.

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