What makes a car reliable?

We look at what makes a car reliable, and the most reliable cars on the market today...

There are many things in life that are subjective. Some people loved Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur, others didn’t. Some people are attracted to BMW drivers, some are not. But there is one thing that isn’t subjective; and that’s a vehicle’s reliability.

So, what does make a car reliable?

In this article, we look at what we think makes a car reliable, and some of the most reliable cars out on the roads today.

What makes a car reliable?

This sounds like an easy question with a really obvious answer. A reliable car is one that doesn’t break down, right?

Pretty much. But, how can you tell if a car is reliable? If you’re looking at new cars, how do you know that it won’t break down in a few years time?

It’s tough to know exactly how reliable a car is. After all, each car has a different life, being treated differently and doing different journeys. So you can’t judge how each individual car is in terms of reliability. But there are some things that you can look out for;

  • Don’t believe the marketing
    • Audi and BMW and Mercedes would like you to believe that luxury equals reliability when in fact, that’s not always the case. Do your own reliability research, you may find that it’s not always the luxury brands that top the reliability charts. We’ll go into the most reliable brands below.
  • Check reliability reports
    • There are a lot of consumer reports about these days. Whether you look at Which? Or JD Power or another consumer report website. Read up on which cars and brands rank highly for reliability and go from there. Have a look at a few websites, not just the one. This will give you a better idea of how each one ranks.
family at a dealership with the mother and child looking at a car and the father talking to a car salesman
  • Read reviews
    • Reviews are a sure fire way to know how reliable a car is. There are a good few long-term reviews online which will give you a good idea of how reliable the car is expected to be
  • Ask people
    • Ask around at work or ask your family. Utilise the internet, people are always happy to impart wisdom online. Ask on forums, or facebook or even send out a tweet. Asking people who actually drive the cars will give you an idea of how reliable different brands are.

The best way to decide whether a car is reliable is to research it. Ask around, read reviews and consumer reports. Brands want you to buy their stuff and you shouldn’t rely simply on what the brands tell you. 

What are the best consumer reports?

There are quite a few different consumer reports websites out there. As we mentioned above, it’s best to have a look at a variety of them so you are as knowledgeable as possible.

Which?, JD Power, and Consumer Reports are all good websites and are used here at OSV. They are easy to navigate and have similar ranking systems.  JD Power is for cars specifically, whereas Which? And Consumer Reports are more general. But you can also look at the reliability of your lawn mower while you’re at it. Be aware, though, you can only access a certain amount for free on Which?. If you want to access everything, then you will have to sign up and pay a monthly fee. However, the information available for free is still pretty good.

These aren’t the only consumer reports websites or services out there but those are the ones that we use and recommend.

As we said, you should also ask the people you know and ask around on social media as well. Get as many opinions as you can.

What are the most reliable car brands?

So we’ve been through the best way to find out if a car is reliable, which brands are the most reliable?

Well, according to the 2016 Driver Power survey, the ten most reliable brands are;

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Surprised? There are some brands on there that you would expect and maybe others that you wouldn’t. We aren’t surprised to see the likes of Tesla and Lexus take the top spot. Nor are we surprised that Kia have made the top ten as they are so confident in their products they offer a 7-year warranty.

The Driver Power survey asks 50,000 UK motorists to score their cars on a number of factors and one of those factors is reliability.

So, if reliability is one of the biggest factors in choosing which car to go for, then you may end up changing brands.

What are the most unreliable car brands?

So, which ones are the most unreliable? Like the most reliable brands, the most unreliable will also surprise you. There may be a few that you don’t want to see on there, especially if reliability is important to you.

According to the 2016 Driver Power survey, the most unreliable brands are;

So Mini takes the top spot as the most unreliable car brand on the roads in the UK. We’re also surprised to see Audi and Land Rover make the bottom ten. However, after unreliability has plagued the likes of Mercedes and BMW, we’re pleased to see that they are sitting somewhere firmly in the middle. However, it does mean that Audi have some work to do.

In conclusion, there is no one answer to what makes a car reliable. There are so many factors in reliability including mileage and how well the car has been kept, that the reliability of each car can vary. However, one of the best ways to find out whether a car is reliable is to ask around, read reviews, check consumer reports on JD Power and Which? And ask on social media. Don’t always believe the marketing, as you can see from the most reliable and unreliable brands above, the most reliable doesn’t always mean the most luxurious.

Undecided which car to choose? Our selection of independent car reviews is a great place to start!

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

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