New data reveals the UK’s most unreliable used cars

Unreliable cars

Buy an unreliable car and this could be you (Picture iStock/Webeye)

If you’re considering buying a new car, it’s always handy to know the most unreliable models around. Thanks to data from car guarantee firm Warranty Wise, we can now see which cars are most likely to conk out, which year are the most prone to problems, what the trouble is likely to be, and even how much the average cost of some repairs is.

Warranty Wise admits that the problems it specifies aren’t guaranteed to occur on these models. But the data is from genuine warranty claims so provides a good pointer to the kind of trouble that is more likely to afflict some cars than others. Read on to discover 2018’s 10 least reliable used cars and which specific models to be wary of.

10 most unreliable cars

Unreliable cars

1. Range Rover Sport

Model affected: Sport Series 1

This posh SUV was built between 2005 and 2013. But according to Warranty Wise it’s the models built between 2008 and 2010 that it pays out on most. The problems that afflict it aren’t small or cheap to fix either. Suspension faults costing on average £540 to mend and brake trouble at £486 were the most common.

Unreliable cars

2. Vauxhall Zafira

Model affected: Zafira B

The second-generation of the popular people carrier was made from 2005 to 2014 and has been plagued with problems. We’ve already written about the electrical faults that cause spontaneous fires. If that wasn’t enough, 2008 cars can suffer gearbox trouble costing an average £1080 to fix. And 2007/08 cars experience clutch faults, on average £492 to mend.

Unreliable cars

3. Vauxhall Insignia

Model affected: Insignia A

The first-generation Insignia was built between 2008 and 2017. Warranty Wise says models between 2009 and 2011 are the most unreliable. The most common problem to hit them is with the steering. This costs on average £276 to fix. But if you have engine trouble – another bugbear – it’ll set you back around £1230 to put right.

Unreliable cars

4. Peugeot 207

Model affected: 207

The three and five-door supermini was sold between 2006 and 2014. Owners of 2007/08 models have the most trouble. Problems are usually engine-related with faults costing £816 to fix. Cylinder head gaskets are troublesome too. If these need repairing it’ll be an average of £576. For a small car, Warranty Wise suggests the 207 could have big bills.

Unreliable cars

5. Vauxhall Astra

Model affected: Astra H

This is the fifth version of the Astra and it’s the third Vauxhall in the top five least dependable motors. Warranty Wise customers claim for a range of problems on cars stretching from 2005 to 2011. Most costly are gearbox faults at £1068 and engine problems at £600.

Unreliable cars

6. Mercedes C-Class

Model affected: C-Class W203 and W204

According to Warranty Wise, the problems with Merc’s small executive saloon cover two generations of car and span a period from 2005-11. But the most expensive fault afflicts the engine and hits both models. Average cost of a repair to this is £1500. The earlier car is prone to alternator problems costing £456 to sort out. The later model (2007-14) suffers electrical trouble costing an average of £372 to fix.

Unreliable cars


Model affected: MINI hatchback series 1 and series 2

First and second-generation MINIs line up in the least reliable list. The first model, made from 2001 to 2006, can experience gearbox faults costing an average £858 to mend. The later model (2007-14) can be liable to engine defects which will set you back a similar amount. Clutch failure afflicts both generations of car.

Unreliable cars

8. SEAT Ibiza

Model affected: Ibiza Mk3 (Type 6L); Ibiza Mk4 (Type 6J)

It’s unusual that the Ibiza features on this list while the mechanically identical Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia don’t. The Ibizas effected are the third and primarily fourth generation models. Gearbox trouble can hit the older car while the model sold from 2009 onwards can suffer engine, electrical and turbo faults. None of these are cheap to put right.

Unreliable cars

9. Fiat 500

Model affected: 500 series 1

The Italian firm began selling its cute city runabout in 2007 and unsurprisingly, it’s older versions that make the most warranty claims. Most expensive among these are gearbox faults hitting 2009/10 cars and costing £744 to repair. Other problems include electrical trouble which can be a factor on 2010/11 cars.

Unreliable cars

10. Renault Clio

Model affected: Clio III

The Warranty Wise data suggests that it’s the third-generation of Clio sold between 2005 and 2012 that’s most likely to make a warranty claim. Cars from 2006 can suffer clutch faults while those from 2007 can be liable to electrical gremlins.

Top 10 most reliable cars

1. Volkswagen Polo

2. Ford Fiesta

3. Ford Focus

4. Ford Transit

5. Audi A3

6. Audi A4

7. Vauxhall Corsa

8. BMW 3 Series

9. Nissan Qashqai

10. BMW 1 Series

11 comments on “New data reveals the UK’s most unreliable used cars

  1. RICHARD 10/12/2018 12:25 PM

    Not surprised Landrover are at the top of the list. My mate had a Disco 3 which popped up a new problem almost every week. In the end it got written off which saved him a small fortune. On the other hand, we own a 2000 Discovery 2, now on 168k miles and it’s near perfect. As to the Mini’s, AVOID any mini with the PSA N14 engine, we had to rebuild ours twice at huge expense. We have an early R50 Cooper and it’s been great. They do say gearbox’s are weak but at 105k ours is perfect…

  2. Gary 05/02/2019 11:04 PM

    Surprised not to see Citroen in the list of unreliable cars.

  3. Garry Robson 06/02/2019 10:42 PM

    The Honda Jazz is noted for it’s reliability but it’s not even in your top ten!

  4. Nigel Taylor 07/02/2019 2:17 PM

    Statistically, the experiences of one person are irrelevant and prove nothing.

  5. Guybe 07/02/2019 9:06 PM

    Didn’t realise the modern Vauxhall cars are unreliable, I never own a Vauxhall and will never buy one too.

  6. Steven Wolfenden 07/02/2019 9:09 PM

    Well your top 10 couldn’t be any further from the truth as a green flag roadside technician I wouldn’t recommend any on there apart from the nissan . Where’s the Honda’s?? Toyota’s ?? If everyone had a Japanese car i would be out of a job thank you ford and bmw

  7. Marcel Loporto 08/02/2019 7:05 AM

    These lists are useless. From just personal experience, I would say that the worst car I had was a Volvo, followed by a BMW. The proverbial sinners shown in posts turned out to be excellent. Are these problems actually caused by the proverbial ‘friday car syndrome’ or ‘discontent during production’ , after all the same model car cannot be saint and sinner.

  8. Jodeson 08/02/2019 9:27 AM

    You can understand why JLR sales have fallen, it is not just the diesel situation, a major factor is vehicle reliability. Once bitten twice shy.

  9. Robert Beardsworth 11/02/2019 11:39 AM

    Good to see Ford Focus in top 3. Had one for 11 years and done 80K. Apart from usual replacements it has been very reliable. Will replace with another. Recommended.

  10. david d 11/02/2019 6:47 PM

    I think on your list of reliable cars should include Kia even our service mechanic”s wife has one and she would not part with it for any other car that goes for my wife and I too.

  11. Brian Smith 15/10/2019 11:05 AM

    Xsara Picasso’s leave most other makes standing on the hard shoulder …(I’m an ex M6 motorway AA man) … the most reliable car I’ve ever owned except for a 40 year old Mini Moke….. ….neither of them are “fancy pants” cars but we’re talking reliability here…modern cars are pretty crap by comparison ….I really don’t know what to go for when my current Picasso expires …there just isn’t anything out there that sails my boat !

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