Paying a higher price for a new car might suggest you’re getting a better vehicle, but it’s absolutely no guarantee of reliability, says a new report.
Vehicle data exclusively revealed to This is Money by consumer group Which? found that the more you spend on a new – or nearly new – car the more likely it is to go wrong.
It found that a city car with an average purchase price of just over £10,000 is like to suffer fewer faults and spend less time off the road than a £40,000-plus SUV or executive saloon.
Pricey cars can be expensive to own: Exclusive data given to This is Money shows that swanky luxury cars and large SUVs less than 3 years old are the least reliable car types
According to the latest Which? car survey, the most fault-prone car class is also the most expensive: luxury cars.
This type of vehicle – including models like the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class – costs an owner, an average, £53,150, according to the consumer association’s stats.
That’s well above the average new car price of £27,034 – the price calculated using values provided by owners of the 51,000 models as part of the dependability survey.
Nearly a third (32 per cent) of owners with expensive luxury car aged less than three years old reported a fault when filling in the annual reliability report.
That’s the highest average fault rate among all the car classes.
And it wasn’t just luxury cars causing a back up at auto garages.
|Car Class||Proportion of Faulty cars||Average Days Off Road||Average price paid new|
|Source: Which? Car Survey 2018 based on 51,172 cars. Stats only for models aged 0-3 years|
The average price of a luxury executive car like this is £52,150. A third of owners of this kind of vehicle said their motor had a fault last year and spent an average of 2.58 days off the road being repaired
The average price of a new – or nearly-new – large SUV is £41,296. More than a quarter (27%) of new models had a fault last year, says Which?
Lavish large SUVs tie with luxury cars for reliability at the bottom of the rankings, thanks to high fault rates and a longer-than-average amount of time being off the road so they can be repaired.
That’s a difficult pill to swallow for anyone who purchases one of these tough-looking gargantuan offroaders, especially considering the average price of one is £41,296.
Tell Which? how reliable your motor is…
You can give feedback to Which? about your current car by filling in the 2019 Which? Car Survey.
By comparison, city car owners spent four times less on their new vehicles and enjoy the lowest average fault rate.
This type of vehicle – with models like the Skoda CitiGo or Toyota Aygo – is the smallest on sale and cost £10,882 on average.
Just 17 per cent of these vehicles less than three years old had suffered a fault, according to the owners who provided feedback.
It’s easy to assume that hefty SUVs and pricey luxury cars are more likely to go wrong because they are rammed with technology you simply don’t get on small city runarounds.
The average large SUV spent two full days off the road being repaired, owners told the 2018 Which? Car Survey
What goes wrong with these pricey vehicles?
However, the data shows that many of the most commonly reported faults and issues are related to parts found on most mainstream new cars.
Most common faults suffered by luxury cars
• The onboard software
• Entertainment system
• Exterior door handles or locks
• Built-in sat nav
• Electric windows/sunroof/mirrors
• Exhaust or emission control system
Source: Which? Car Survey 2018
For instance, some of the most frequent fault complaint made by luxury model owners was related to the onboard software, entertainment system and sat-nav – all of which are hi-tech features usually reserved for premium cars.
However, other often-reported issues include problems you’d find on any car.
This includes defects with the door handles and locks, electric windows and exhaust system.
The most common complaints among large SUV owners followed a similar theme, but also included tyre pressure sensors.
The smaller the car, the more reliable it is, says Which?
According to the survey respondents, city car owners spent an average of £10,882 on their new vehicles – which is just shy of five times less than what luxury car owners would have to pay for their swanky saloons and estates.
City cars are the cheapest of all the car classes by a margin of more than £5,000, with fractionally larger superminis costing around £16,000 on average.
And the reliability stats suggests the tiniest of vehicle types represent good value for money and low cost ownership.
City cars, which are the cheapest car types, are also likely the least expensive to own as they suffer the least amount of faults and spend the least amount of time in the garage
Just 17 per cent of city car drivers with a vehicles aged less than three years had a fault to complain about.
That’s the lowest average fault rate among the car classes, and nearly half that of luxury cars.
Of the unlucky few that did experience something going wrong, the car was kept in the garage for repairs for less than a day and a half over on average over a 12-month period, which is the lowest off-the-road figure of any car class.
Small cars are a bit bigger than city cars and, on average, owners spent £16,238 on their new small car.
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