Motoring Awards: Reliability

How reliable is your new car? Compare manufacturers based on reliability with Canstar Blue’s review and ratings.

2017 award for reliability

Most Satisfied Customers | Mazda, Renault, Suzuki, Volkswagen

What good is a car if it isn’t reliable? In our reliability review, 4 out of 17 manufacturers received five stars for reliability – Mazda, Renault, Suzuki and Volkswagen.

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The most reliable cars in Australia

As far as car ownership goes, there’s probably nothing more annoying than when you need to get somewhere but can’t because your car has broken down or can’t even start. The problems just seem to compound and can get costly. While new cars are less prone to this than used ones, the truth is there are some lemons out there and even new cars can be susceptible to faults. Luckily though, many cars these days are covered by warranties that will honour such unexpected breakdowns.

No matter what some life advice column has told you, you won’t impress your date, or your mum, with a cool car if you can’t even get it to start. You’ll make your date wish he/she took the bus instead, and your mum will be worried about you every time you’re on the road. So if you’re in need of a more reliable ride, surely the opinion of other motorists must matter.

Canstar Blue has surveyed over 2,500 new car owners to find out which manufacturers are most reliable. In this customer satisfaction ratings report, Mazda, Renault, Suzuki and Volkswagen were deemed to offer the most reliable new cars. So what drives these reliability rankings? There were some interesting statistics to come out of the survey:

  • 20 per cent of new car buyers bought a new car because their old one broke down or became unreliable. This was further felt by the 18-29 demographic, where 26 per cent said this was their reason. One can safely assume that many young people have less cash to splash and were driving something old and cheap, but discovered that buying a new car might cause them less headaches.
  • 36 per cent bought their new car because they just wanted something better. Again, this was most heavily felt in the young demographic with 37 per cent saying this was their reason. The older demographics also felt they needed a better car – 38 per cent of 50-59 year-olds thought the same, as did 39 per cent of those aged in their 60s. While they likely won’t agree – Baby Boomers and Gen Y share a lot in common in wanting a reliable or better car.

So we’ve established that Mazda, Renault, Suzuki and Volkswagen were revealed to be the most reliable, so where do other marques stand?

  • Audi, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Holden and Subaru all received four stars apiece
  • Luckily, there were only a few marques with three star ratings for reliability – Ford, Jeep and Kia

Don’t panic if you own a Ford, Jeep or Kia. While the survey suggests customers aren’t as satisfied with the reliability of these makes, if you’re happy with your car then it makes no financial sense to jump into a brand perceived to be more reliable.

It was a mixed bag of results, with European marques often outperforming American companies. Japanese manufacturers tended to fare best though. However, no matter where your car originates from, if it’s not well-maintained then you can generally kiss goodbye to its reliability. If your car is under warranty, you likely have no option but to get it serviced through an approved mechanic, but there are a few things to keep an eye out for to prevent financial disaster before your next service:

  • Check fluids. These fluids are the blood of your car that makes it go. Regularly checking things like the oil, power steering fluid, coolant, brake fluid and transmission fluid can nip problems in the bud before they start. Also check for small links by looking under your car occasionally. Leaks can be the start of a bigger problem. For example, some cars’ power steering fluid tank is located over the alternator. Leaking power steering fluid could get into your alternator and affect your entire electrical system. Also keep an eye out for your washer fluid level. Having a low level can attract an on-the-spot fine by the police in some cases!
  • Check tyre pressure. This is an easy one that can be done at most fuel stations around the country. You can inflate your car tyres to the specifications set in the user manual, or often the required pressure is listed on a plaque on the inside panel of the driver’s side door. Having poorly inflated tyres can increase wear and send them to an early grave. In the meantime, it can also affect fuel economy as the car has more rolling resistance.

Ultimately, you can safely assume that a new car will be a safer bet for reliability than an older, used car, whatever the make. Mazda, Renault, Suzuki and Volkswagen topped the ratings for reliability, with the most satisfied customers in this category. It pays to look at a range of vehicles and manufacturers when you buy a new car, but considering which makes have been deemed the most reliable may be a good starting point.

Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 9,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have bought a new car from a dealership in the last three years – in this case, 2,534 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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