Most Reliable Car Brands in the UK- An Extensive Guide

Looking for the most reliable car brands available in the UK? 

We all know that buying a car is a significant investment, and the expense doesn’t stop when you drive your new car off the forecourt. 

In fact, it’s an ongoing commitment of your time and money to keep it running and well-maintained. 

You’ll need to consider the costs of day-to-day running and fuel, regular services, MOTs, and repairs when deciding on your budget. 

With this in mind, it helps to know which are the most reliable car brands to keep your annual maintenance and repairs bill at an absolute minimum. 

If you want something that will go the distance and won’t run into trouble after just a year or two, it makes sense to invest in a brand that gives you peace of mind, whose cars are well-made, and whose models are robust enough not to put unnecessary strain on your finances. 

So, which are the most reliable car brands, what are their attributes, and what do you need to know when making this important decision? 

Broadly speaking, a car brand’s reliability depends on how often their models break down, how much they cost to repair when they do develop a problem, the average amount of time they will spend off road being repaired, and the average age and mileage of those surveyed. 

There are various surveys and indices readily available which take information from warranty providers who have extensive data on vast numbers of car makes and models. 

Here, we summarise the brands that tend to consistently feature in the top ten for reliability:

1. Honda

You can’t go far wrong with a Honda. If you’re looking for longevity and low maintenance, this reliable brand is the way to go.

With average repair costs of around £560, Honda cars are also not off the road too long when they are in for repairs. 

This brand tops the bill on the Warranty Wise survey, and it scores really well on Warranty Direct’s reliability index too. 

So, if you are looking for something that doesn’t often go wrong and when it does, it’s easy on the wallet, Honda might be the one for you. 

Whether you’re after the practical and economical Honda Civic or the environmentally conscious Honda e, you’ll be investing in a brand that has a reputation for producing a car to a very highest of engineering standards.

2. Lexus

Lexus rivals Honda as one of the most reliable car brands due to the fact that their cars don’t suffer problems very often. 

This close cousin of the Toyota produces luxury cars to rival BMW. What’s more, they also prioritise fuel economy which can also be a major plus point when you are considering long-term financial outlay. 

They regularly top the rankings of dependability and reliability surveys and owner reviews are overwhelmingly positive. 

Honda just pips Lexus to the top spot though due to the fact that the average repair costs for Lexus are slightly higher at around £1,100

If you fancy the sporty Lexus IS saloon, or the CT – a sleek hatchback to rival the Audi A3 – you will be investing in reliable car that also has more than a touch of luxury.

3. Toyota

Toyota is another great choice for car reliability. With an 80% reliability rating, it comes in just 7% lower than Honda and Lexus. 

Their average repair costs, at £600, aren’t too bad either. 

As one of the largest manufacturers of cars in the world, they have a huge range to choose from, so there really is something for everyone. 

Whether you want the compact yet spacious Aygo, a Land Cruiser, or a hybrid Prius, there are so many to choose from. 

And if that wasn’t enough, the Toyota has consistently been viewed in the industry as the top vehicle manufacturer and one of the world’s most valuable car brands.

4. Smart

This reliable brand, an offshoot of Mercedes-Benz, may produce cars that are small and cheerful, but the car will also be a very small burden on your wallet in the infrequent event that you do need to get them repaired. 

With an average repair cost of only £460 and a reliability rating of 73% - you could do a lot worse than choose a Smart if you’re looking for a reliable car. 

They are also a dream to park and are great if you are a city-dweller. 

Smart are very well-made cars that are also very cheap to run, so your fuel bill will be comparatively low. 

These cars are a great choice if you don’t need a big car or much boot space and often find yourself struggling to get into a tight parking spot.

5. Hyundai

This South Korean manufacturer may have an historic reputation for producing simple, good-value, dependable family cars, but its latest models are also increasingly sophisticated. 

Hyundai scores consistently well in the most reliable car brand stakes. They suffer no more problems than other manufacturers that also fare well in the surveys. 

The average repair cost is reasonably low too, at £570, so it’s a win-win. Not bad at all for the third largest car manufacturer in the world. 

If it’s an SUV you’re after, you could do a lot worse than the KONA with its five doors, sleek design and Apply CarPlay as standard.

6. Fiat

Like Smart cars, the name Fiat conjures up images of small and economical city cars. 

While it is true that it is best known for its compact models, there is actually a vast range of models on offer from the iconic Fiat 500, to the family hatchback Fiat Tipo. 

Fiat matches Hyundai’s car reliability score of 71% but is even lower on repair costs with an average spend of around £510. Fiat certainly bust the myth that Italian cars are unreliable.

7. Suzuki

Sitting between the Fiat and the Kia in terms of repair costs, you can expect to pay an average of £520 to fix your Suzuki on the rare occasion that it develops a fault. 

With a reliability rating of 71%, you could do a lot worse than plump for this reasonably reliable car brand. 

If you want a practical all-rounder, the Suzuki Swift could be the one for you, offering up the winning combination of being great to drive with very low running costs. 

Or you might be in the market for an SUV, in which case you might go for the S-Cross, which has an ample boot and great build quality.

8. Kia

This sister brand to Hyundai also offers a reasonably wide range of well-built and dependable family cars. 

Their models come with a competitive price tag and some of the newer ones boast a warranty that will last up to 7 years or 100,000 miles – whichever is sooner - such is the confidence of this brand in its cars’ reliability. 

With a score of 69% for car reliability rating, you could do a lot worse than choose a Kia as your car of choice. 

Average repairs are on the affordable side too, at around £530

If you want a city run-around, the Kia Picanto might be for you, or perhaps you would like a stylish SUV in the shape of the new Kia Sportage. Either way, you will be investing in a well-constructed, sleek and one of the most reliable car brands.

9. Ford

Ford regularly tops the sales charts as the biggest car brand in the UK. It has nearly 800 dealerships across the country and has an extensive range of models to match. 

Whether you plump for the trusty Fiesta, or the iconic Mustang, you will find a reliable car brand with readily available, affordable replacement parts, and a great reputation for performance. 

In terms of reliability, there isn’t much to choose between Ford and Renault – which, incidentally, only just loses out to Ford in our ranking. 

In fact, Renault cars tend to be slightly cheaper to fix than their American counterparts. 

Having said that, you’ll get your Ford back from the garage quicker and it will be slightly older, on average, when it runs into problems.

10. Renault

This French manufacturer certainly knows its onions when it comes to producing practical and dependable family hatchbacks. 

Dependable needn’t mean boring though as Renault’s range are all well-styled and great to drive. 

With a reliability rating of 67% - consistent across the range - and an average repair cost of around £560, Renault just sneaks into 10th place on our list of the most reliable car brands. 

They have good general safety credentials and they are an excellent mix of value, reliability and safety. 

Spare parts are cheap and readily available, and after a bit of a glitch a few years back, their reliability is much-improved and earns them a well-deserved place in the top ten.


Most reliable car brands UK - Conclusion

Now, more than ever, getting value for money will be at the forefront of car-buyers’ minds. 

Investing in a car is not an insignificant undertaking, especially as we head into a post-pandemic recession. 

If you are about to make this major financial commitment – as cars are an essential for most households – you can now rest assured that you are in the know about the most reliable car brands in the UK. 

These brands are tried and tested and won’t constantly break down; you can rely upon them to get you safely from A to B without costing the earth on the off chance that they do develop a fault. 

If buying a car seems to be too much of a commitment right now, a lot of people are opting to lease instead. 

Leasing a car can often mean lower monthly payments than a bank loan and you side-step the fact that when you buy a new vehicle, half of its value is lost within the first three years. 

When you lease, you can regularly upgrade to a brand new vehicle, manufacturer warranty is included, you don’t need to worry about selling the vehicle when you want to get rid of it, and there are also good tax benefits if you lease through your business. 

Whether buying or leasing a car – whichever method is right for you – make sure you pick a reliable car brand!