Top ten reliable used cars
The results of the 2013 Reliability Survey, conducted by What Car? and used car warranty provider Warranty Direct, confirm that smaller, more basic models (with fewer things to go wrong) tend to be the best performers when it comes to reliability. Here's our pick of the top ten used cars to buy if reliability is your priority. The years in brackets refer to the production-years of the model assessed in the study.
Joint 1st – Mitsubishi Lancer (2005-2008)
Average repair cost £95.43
Average time at garage 0.98 hours
Not only is the Mitsubishi Lancer the joint-most reliable car on the road, it's also the cheapest car to repair in the unlikely event that something does go wrong. Of the warranty claims that are made, 40% are to repair the suspension; otherwise, the Lancer is rock solid and on average spends less than an hour in the garage when it does need attention.
Mitsubishi no longer makes the Lancer.
Joint 1st – Vauxhall Agila (2000-2008)
Average repair cost £98.61
Average time at garage 0.87 hours
As a brand, Vauxhall doesn't have a particularly strong reliability record, but the Agilas in the survey are first-generation models, which were effectively re-badged Suzuki Wagon Rs, so they've demonstrated Japanese levels of reliability instead. When something does go wrong, 40% of the time it's a problem with the fuel system, with the most common repair being to the injectors.
3rd- Citroen C1 (2005-present)
Average repair cost £184.58
Average time at garage 1.20 hours
The Citroen C1 was developed alongside the Toyota Aygo, but it actually beats the Japanese car in this survey. Average repair costs are considerably more than the Mitsubishi Lancer and Vauxhall Agila but they're still below average. When something does go wrong with the C1, it's most often the cooling or electrical systems, but the average repair time for C1 problems is still short, at just over an hour.
4th – Mazda MX-5 (2005-present)
Average repair cost £204.95
Average time at garage 1.30 hours
The Mazda MX-5 convertible is fun to drive, good value for money and, as this year's reliablity survey results go to show, very reliable. The air-conditioning and folding roof are the features most likely to cause any problems, but these are fixed quickly enough and an average repair cost of just over £200 is very good for a drop-top, given its extra mechanical parts.
5th – Suzuki Alto (1997-2006)
Average repair cost £118.53
Average time at garage 1.24 hours
The Suzuki Alto is another example of Japanese manufacturers' competence in making reliable small cars. True, the Alto is very basic and rather uninspiring, but when problems do occur (most likely the heating, if anything), they're cheap repair.
6th – Honda Jazz (2001-2008)
Average repair cost £273.33
Average time at garage 2.12 hours
Honda has an excellent reputation for making reliable cars, and takes pole position for the eighth year in a row in this year's reliability survey, out of 38 manufacturers. The Jazz supermini follows that trend, although its repair costs are the highest of the ten cars featured here. If something does go wrong with the Jazz, it's very often something to do with the suspension.
Joint 7th – Ford Fiesta (2008-2012)
Average repair cost £243.63
Average time at garage 1.18 hours
Britain's favourite supermini, the Ford Fiesta, is also very reliable, with only 8% of the cars covered by Warranty Direct having any cause for a claim. Of the problems that do occur, the biggest ones tend to be electrical, although the parts that are most commonly replaced are in the fuel injection system; all repairs are carried out quickly, however.
Joint 7th – Toyota Aygo (2005-present)
Average repair cost £171.10
Average time at garage 1.48 hours
The Toyota Aygo may not acheive quite as good results as its cousin, the Citroen C1, but it still performs very well in the reliability survey. The average repair cost is less for the C1, but it spends longer in the garage. Over half of all warranty claims made for the Aygo are to do with the cooling and heating system.
Joint 9th – Honda HR-V (1998-2006)
Average repair cost £237.66
Average time at garage 1.40 hours
Honda's quirky mini-SUV has an even lower average repair cost than its smaller sibling, the Jazz [link to above], though overall it doesn't score quite as well in this year's survey. Electrical faults are responsible for the majority of problems that occur, with gremlins in the gauges and wiring being the most frequent cause for warranty claim.
The HR-V is no longer manufactured by Honda.
Joint 9th – Volkswagen Fox (2006-2011)
Average repair cost £112.27
Average time at garage 1.26 hours
The Volkswagen Fox is the best-performing German car in this year's reliability survey. It's relatively expensive to buy, but cheap to repair. Of the problems that do occur, most are with the axle and suspension.
Volkswagen no longer makes the Fox.
to find out which overall brands of car are the most - and least – reliable, according to the results of the What Car?/Warranty Direct 2013 reliablity survey.