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Revealed: The most common car parts to fail on used cars – and the most reliable cars

  • Warranty firm deep dives into its data for Car Dealer to reveal most common car parts failures
  • Company found alternators, batteries and coil springs are most likely parts to fail
  • McLaren claims were the highest while Honda Jazz named the most reliable used car

Time 6:46 am, March 24, 2024

Alternators are the most likely part to fail on a used car according to extensive research by a warranty company.

Warranty Solutions Group (WSG) analysed data exclusively for Car Dealer from across its policies for every manufacturer it holds more than 500 warranties for and worked out the most common faults for each brand.

Alternators (12% of claims), batteries (6.06%), coil springs (6.06%) and water pumps (3.79%) were the most common parts to fail.

Alternators were said to fail due to wear and tear often associated with stop/start technology which the warranty firm said ‘added strain to the electrical system’.

Batteries were put under similar pressure while pothole damage was cited as the cause of most coil spring issues. 

Internal bearing failures, which led to seals and gaskets going, were the main causes of water pump claims, added the firm.

The most costly claims were unsurprisingly for the most expensive car brands with McLaren ‘dual linear solenoids’ costing an average of more than £9k to fix, Ferrari miscellaneous gearbox issues costing £4,166, and Bentley air compressors at £2,799.

Most reliable car brands

Source: WSG 2023 data, with average repair costs

  1. Honda – £364.89
  2. Toyota – £331.40
  3. Hyundai – £362.76
  4. Kia – £446.34
  5. Skoda – £313.67
  6. Nissan – £366.66
  7. Renault – £409.65
  8. BMW – £545.02
  9. Ford – £474.73
  10. Mini – £417.00

McLaren has three of the most expensive claims in the company’s research with camshaft phasers costing £6,087 and gearbox ECUs at £3,950 coming behind the £9k solenoids.

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When it came to the more volume selling car manufacturers, Subaru catalytic convertors were the most expensive repairs to fix at an average of £2,358, Land Rover DPFs cost an average £1,485 and Mazda turbos were £705.

Honda was named the most reliable car brand by the firm with the lowest claim rate and and average claim of £364. Toyota was second and Hyundai third.

Top 20 most reliable used cars

Source: WSG 2023 data, with percentage of cars on policy that had to claim

  1. Honda Jazz – 2.28%
  2. Toyota Yaris – 2.98%
  3. Toyota Aygo – 3.80%
  4. BMW X3 – 4.98%
  5. Nissan Note – 5.14%
  6. Honda Civic – 5.68%
  7. Hyundai i10 – 6.64%
  8. Ford Fiesta – 7.72%
  9. Citroen C1 – 7.92%
  10. Skoda Fabia – 7.98%
  11. Ford Ka – 8.33%
  12. Nissan Juke – 8.51%
  13. Renault Captur – 8.68%
  14. BMW X1 – 8.93%
  15. Renault Clio – 8.97%
  16. BMW 3 Series – 9.05%
  17. Citroen C3 – 10.03%
  18. BMW 2 Series – 10.14%
  19. Ford Mondeo – 10.31%
  20. Mercedes A-Class – 10.70%

Martin Binnee, WSG operations director, said: ‘The build quality has improved significantly across all car manufacturers over the last few years and generally vehicles have become more reliable. 

‘However, rapidly advancing electronics have increased the likelihood of more complicated and expensive faults.

‘One knock-on effect of this is smaller independent garages are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with franchised dealers and specialists due to equipment and expertise constraints.’

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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