Europe's most (and least) reliable used cars

In the runup to the unveiling of much shiny new machinery at the Paris Show (we'll be there of course, scooping away), we thought it was worth reminding PHers that you do have a choice apart than new - ie used.

And if it's reliability you're after, a survey of 20,000 warranty policies recently carried out on European cars between 3 and 6 years old by Warranty Direct named the W211 Mercedes E-Class (2006-) as Europe's most reliable used car. Its 10% failure rate was 5% better than the next best car, Skoda's Fabia.

It was a good result for a company that's still trying to shake off the spectre of build quality issues from the early 2000s. Having said that, Mercedes also had two cars in the least reliable top ten, the SL and the CLS.

WD says that 85% of these had faults
WD says that 85% of these had faults
'Bottoming' the least reliable list is the '04-'09 model Land Rover Discovery 3, with 85% of examples covered by Warranty Direct recording a fault in the first 12 months. The RR Sport didn't exactly cover itself in glory either. With cars from the same company (Jaguar) doing pretty well in customer satisfaction surveys these days, it seems odd that Land Rover should be having such bother. Let's hope the upcoming Range Rover redresses the balance a bit.

The '03-'10 Bentley Continental GT did poorly too - 78% of them needed attention in the first year.

Top 5 Most Reliable (and most common fault)
Mercedes E-Class (axle/suspension)
Skoda Fabia (electrical)
Smart ForTwo (cooling/heating)
Volvo C70 (electrical)
Renault Scenic (axle/suspension)

Top 5 Least Reliable
Land Rover Discovery (axle/suspension)
Bentley Conti GT (electrical)
Renault Espace (engine)
Mercedes SL (axle/suspension)
Land Rover Range Rover Sport (axle/suspension)

Comments (113) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Bladedancer 24 Mar 2014

    Merc E class reliable again?
    How times changed.

  • zebedee 20 Mar 2014

    are front springs on those a common feature then? I knocked on a neighbours door the other day having saw his sat on the road outside and thinking either he is going for the dramatically lowered look, one corner at a time, or he has a problem!

  • bqf 20 Mar 2014

    The last two cars that have left me needing recovery have both been E Class W211 Mercedes.

    I had an E270 CDi that I used for long motorways trips between Kent and Newcastle - at around the 100,000 mile mark the front springs went bang (within an hour of each other) and I had to be recovered from North Yorkshire to kent. On a very wet and cold Thursday evening.

    I replaced that with an E55 AMG W211, which I used to commute into Canary Wharf. The car cut out while queue for the Blackwall tunnel in the outside lane of the A102 - the traffic cleared around me and I was very nearly rear-ended at high speed by a van yikes Turned out the fault was a broken fuel pump relay, costing £3.50 to fix hehe

    Both stupid faults, but they left me stranded. The only other car to strand me was a Freelander, and the 1.8 K Series head gasket went taking the engine to Valhalla.

    In my experience, E-classes are 100% likely to strand you during ownership hehe

  • Bladedancer 27 Sep 2012

    GTIR said:
    Bladedancer said:
    Waugh-terfall said:
    Bladedancer said:
    Waugh-terfall said:

    GTIR has a 2007 E220 CDI Avantgarde, 415,000mi and counting, fast.
    How many times injectors, DMF and fuel pump have been changed on it?
    I don't think he's had any real issues with it.
    That's as lucky as it gets.
    A common rail diesel without any problems over 150k mark.
    Many have trouble reaching 100k without one of the usual suspects going bang.
    Nothing to do with luck, that's why the E class was top.
    Only issues are suspension, as noted in that report, but to be honest apart from springs and arms which you would expect, I have not had any issues.

    I know of many E class (06 on) that have had no issues with injectors and have very high mileage so I am not sure where you get your info from.

    The only problems I have had (2.1 engine) is the injector seals go, but that has nothing to do with the injector itself.


    Roll on 500k
    I don't remember ever seeing a Common Rail system where injectors lasted that long.
    It a high pressure, highly stressed system and they just go and become a consumable that you have to change every 150k or so, give or take.
    I'm not talking just German here, but across the board.

  • P2BS 26 Sep 2012

    blindswelledrat said:
    Very interesting (if true)
    Call me cynical but a German test showing suprise German winners in 4 of 5 group tests makes me a touch suspicious
    The Germans treat a Ford Ka as domestic. The old Ford ethos of 'build a factory in a country so every customer thinks they're buying a domestic product' rings true there too.
    All I'll say on the subject is cars cost more there, and the Germans (being a process-driven lot) will generally have their nicer cars serviced at a main dealer - even when it's out of guarantee. Add more disposable income than most of their neighbours, and it doesn't surprise me one bit that a Porsche 996 consistently shows up least faults at test time.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment