Top Ten: Most reliable nearly new family cars

New cars are the most reliable option, at least in theory. At least if things do go wrong there’s a manufacturer’s warranty ready to put things right, something that’s reassuring when buying a family car. Of course, you pay a lot for a new car and that’s not something everybody can afford to do, so how reliable are some slightly older cars?

Fortunately Warranty Direct have done the work on that one and produced a handy listing of three to five-year old family cars that, according to their own research, break down most infrequently.

Using some 30,000 policies as their data set, Warranty Direct found that it’s the Japanese manufacturers that make the most reliable cars, with Honda and Toyota taking half of the Top Ten.

The great news for the Britain is that four of the top ten are built here, which is yet another reason to be proud of the motor manufacturing industry we have here.

1. Toyota Corolla (2001-2007)

Built at Toyota’s huge plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, the Corolla takes the top spot with just 7% of cars suffering any sort of breakdown. It might not have been the most exciting car on sale, but it’s good value and bolted together well – although most claims are for suspension problems.

2. Honda Civic (2006-2012)

Another British built car, the Swindon manufactured Civic claims second place with 10% of cars suffering a breakdown in any year. With looks that still remain fresh now and a sensible family sized interior, this has to be a recommended second-hand purchase; only electrical issues take the shine off.

3. Honda Accord (2002-2008)

Right behind the Civic is another Honda, this time the larger Accord. Engine issues contribute to the low 10% claim rate, but it’s another solid performance from the Japanese manufacturer.

4. Mazda 3 (2004-2009)

With the same 10% breakdown rate as the two Honda’s, Mazda make it in to the top ten with their 3 model. This family hatchback marked a shift in quality for the manufacturer as the Warranty Direct figures demonstrate. Most claims come from the braking system, but don’t let that stop you looking at one of these.

5. Toyota Auris (2007-Current)

The third British built car on the list, the Toyota Auris replaced the Corolla. Both were built at Burnaston, with the Auris retaining the somewhat conservative styling traits of the older model. It also inherited its reliability, with just 11% requiring a warranty claim.

6. Toyota Prius (2003-2009)

The environmentalists’ car of choice, the petrol/electric hybrid Prius Mk2 not only leads to fewer trips to the petrol station but also fewer trips to the dealer. Just 12% made a warranty claim and reassuringly that wasn’t for the advanced battery technology – most were for suspension niggles.

7. Ford C-Max (2007-2010)

The original C-Max was obviously built well, with Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany being responsible for bolting them together. Electrical gremlins are the most frequent reason for claiming, but only 14% make a claim of any sort.

8. Ford Mondeo (2007-Current)

Built in Belgium, the current Ford Mondeo shares the same electrical issues as the smaller C-Max, and an almost identical claim rate – just 15%. The Mondeo will be replaced by Ford in the next few months with the new model obviously having a lot to live up to.

9. Nissan Qashqai (2007-Current)

The final British built car in the list, the Sunderland assembled Qashqai revived Nissan’s fortunes, no doubt helped by a reputation for excellent build quality. Just 16% of Qashqai owners make a warranty claim, most of those for electrical issues, so it’s a well deserved reputation.

10. Peugeot 308 (2007-Current)

A surprise for many, the final spot is taken by the French built 308. A low 16% of owners make a warranty claim with the bulk being to resolve electrical problems.

The stereotype is that Japanese cars are the most reliable and, to an extent, that remains true. Seven of the top ten are indeed Japanese manufacturers, but four of those are built in Britain. In fact eight of the top ten are built here in Europe, so buying Japanese car not only gets you something more reliable but also helps the UK and European car industry.

Just make sure you pick up a warranty if you buy one of the cars on this list.

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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