How Reliable are SEAT Cars? An Objective Look at the Spanish Brand

We take a look at just how reliable SEAT really are...

How reliable are Seat header image with metallic Seat in background

Reliability is a big factor in choosing which car brand to go for. There’s no point spending money on a car only to spend more money getting it fixed.

The question of dependability is an interesting one, and there is proof that we Brits aren’t actually that good at judging how reliable a car will be. A study has shown that we rank prestigious German brands higher for reliability than they actually are, and we tend to shun the less luxurious brands, thinking that they are less reliable than they actually are.

And one of those brands that we thought more unreliable than it actually is, is SEAT. So, how reliable are SEAT cars?

In this article, we look at SEAT’s dependability and compare it to some of its main rivals.

How reliable are SEAT cars?

Pretty reliable, actually.

In a 2015 J.D Power study, SEAT were reported to have 99 problems per 100 vehicles. This was lower than the industry average of 114 problems per 100 vehicles.

This is also the case for a study conducted by WarrantyDirect, that showed SEAT right in the middle of their reliability table. It has a reliability index of 126 and average repair cost of £293.58. They came 19th out of the 36 cars that were listed on the table, making them very average in this study. That said, being average when it comes to reliability is by no means a bad thing, not when you consider it beat Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

SEAT Leon reliability

Whatcar have rated the SEAT Leon as above average in many departments, including brake fluid, wiper blades, fuel filter and brakes discs. In fact, SEAT pass with flying colours according to Whatcar, with the air-conditioning not needing to be replaced until 80,000 miles, with the industry average being 45,000 miles.

White SEAT Leon off track with fields in the background

How reliable is the SEAT Ibiza?

The SEAT Ibiza scores really well on WhatCar for reliability. It is above class average in all categories including electrics and engine. This is hugely impressive, with the brake discs lasting almost 15,000 miles more than the class average.

The Telegraph have also rated SEAT in their 20 best car brands for reliability, coming in eighth. And, this list was published in May this year (2017), so that’s our most up-to-date report of SEAT’s longevity. It was reported that problems in SEAT cars are now only 96 per 100 vehicle. This was down from 99 last year and is still well below the industry average. So SEAT are also improving their reliability.

So it looks like that SEAT are quite solidly reliable. They sit firmly in the middle of many dependability surveys and league tables, which isn’t a bad place to be. And, they look like they are improving as well.

Why are SEAT reliable?

We mentioned earlier that we assume that the more expensive, luxurious cars are more reliable than others but actually it’s not the case. In fact, it appears to be quite the opposite.

There is no specific reason why SEAT are more reliable than other brands, but one of those reasons may be that they are not as high tech as others. Luxury brands often have a lot of technology, many of which is new and complex. This technology can often go wrong and that’s what causes the issues, bringing the reliability rating down.

SEAT, however, make solidly built cars, that aren’t crammed full of technology. This isn’t to say that they aren’t technologically advanced, because they are. But, they don’t have as much, nor is it as complex as what is seen in cars with a heftier price tag.

Sometimes simpler is better. And this seems to be the case in terms of car reliability.

How reliable are surveys and studies?

man in a suit with a headset on at a computer

While we’re talking about reliability, you might be questioning how accurate surveys and studies are when it comes to looking at car brands.

Honestly, they are quite reliable. Surveys ask those who own the cars, and ask them to determine their own cars reliability. Others are self-reports and reviews, where owners give their own reviews of the problems they have had with the model and rate the reliability based on that. All of these help us to determine a cars longevity and dependability. 

Also, many take into account recalls, which are very important for determining dependability.

That said, that’s not to say they are without fault. The WarrantyDirect survey we mentioned above did not include some brands, such as Kia, because their warranties are longer than three years. This means that they could not gather data for Kia because no one was looking to get an extended warranty from them. Another problem for those wanting to know the long term reliability of a car might not be able to, particularly if the model itself is brand new. As you can understand, it’s hard to determine the longevity of a brand new model. 

Despite this, they are an accurate way of telling how dependable a make or model is.

SEAT vs. Renault vs. Peugeot; Which is more reliable?

SEAT have some tough competitors, and in such a saturated market, it can be difficult to make their voices heard.

So how do they fare against Renault and Peugeot when it comes to reliability?

SEAT hold their ground. In the WarrantyDirect survey, SEAT fall in between Peugeot and Renault, with Peugeot having a reliability index of 105 and coming 15th out of 36 and Renault with a reliability index of 142 and coming 23rd out of 36. This, as you read above, is compared to SEAT’s 19th place and reliability index of 126.

In the J.D Power survey, Peugeot are level with SEAT with 99 problems per 100 vehicles and Renault are further down the list with 115 problems per 100 vehicles. This is above the industry average by 1.

In the Telegraph list, Renault comes 14th, with 116 problems per 100 vehicles. But, it’s Peugeot that take the top spot, jumping from 10th to 5th with only 92 problems per 100 vehicles. SEAT again, sits firmly in the middle of these two.

White Renault Twingo in the road in a town centre with shops either side

So it seems that SEAT is average compared to Peugeot and Renault, with Peugeot consistently either level or higher than SEAT, and Renault consistently lower than SEAT when it comes to reliability.

Which SEAT cars are the most reliable?

Okay, so we’ve established SEAT’s reliability, the following models are the most reliable; 

 

These three cars have consistently topped reliability lists and AutoExpress users have some great things to say about the Alhambra.

Which SEAT cars are the least reliable?

Of course, they can’t all be incredibly reliable cars, or can they? Here are the least reliable SEAT models;

 

And honestly, those are only ranked as the least reliable because the others have ranked so highly.

In conclusion, if you want a reliable car, then a SEAT is a really good bet. Their models have topped many a reliability list and their owners have nothing but good things to say about them. Compared to their rivals, they are average. However, that shouldn’t put you off. Both competitors, Renault and Peugeot, do score pretty highly themselves. Their reliability could be down to the fact that they are pretty simple cars that do the job which means a lower price initially and lower repair costs, should the situation arise. We can safely recommend SEAT as a reliable brand to you.

SEAT may be reliable, but how do they stack up in other areas?  Read our latest SEAT 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

2 Comments

  • Margaretdows and John Rea| 19th March 2019 at 10:22 pm Reply

    We have had every 3/4 years Ibiza from 1990 .but one Ibiza that we kept for 7 years was a brilliant wee car And had other seat cars but
    I have this last 6 years 2 tolados , and need to change for another motorbility at Christmas
    .But the torlado has such a big boot it is great it would hold 4 large cases
    in it and the car seats are nicely spaced out with pleanty of room in them so I’m thinking of maybe getting another Tolado mmargaret

    • Rachel Richardson| 20th March 2019 at 10:29 am Reply

      Hello Margaret,
      Thank you for your comment. I am happy to hear that you have had many good experiences with different models in the SEAT range. That you are considering the purchase of another one is testament to their suitability for your needs.

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