When you’re buying a used car, it can be difficult to know whether you’re making the right choice. Sure, you can kick the tyres, check for rust and ask questions about the service history, but unless you know a lot about cars, it’s really difficult to tell whether you’re buying one of the most reliable used cars or one of the most unreliable used cars.
Even if you do a quick Google search with the make and model, you’re only likely to find reviews that tell you about the acceleration, the comfort to drive and the mpg. You’re unlikely to find a review that talks about the reliability of the car over time because reviewers don’t test drive the cars for that long.
Luckily, every year, Warranty Direct – a car warranty company – studies all their data over the past two decades to make a list of the most reliable used cars built since 1990. They look at all of the faults, problems and costs involved with every make of car and put together a definitive list of the most reliable used cars. Each car gets a Reliability Index rating and the closer to 0 the rating, the more reliable the car.
To save you the effort, we’ve picked our top five from that list. We’ve tried to the pick cars that are not going to break the bank, that scored highly on the reliability test and that you could probably pick up quite easily. (You can check out the full list too.)
So, without further ado, here they are:
Bamboo’s Top Five Most Reliable Used Cars
#5: Ford Ka
Reliability Index Rating: 16.00
Average Repair Cost: £187.51
If driving a three-door car isn’t an issue, then the Ford Ka might be the car for you. Although they’re unlikely to turn any heads on the road, the Ford Ka is a bastion of reliability. It handles incredibly well, has low running costs and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy.
Plus, you can pick up slightly older models on Gumtree for as little as £300 without the worry that it’s going to constantly break down.
#4: Mazda MX-5
Reliability Index Rating: 15.00
Average Repair Cost: £184.58
If you’re looking to be a bit flashier with your first car, you can’t go wrong with the Mazda MX-5. It’s the best-selling sports car of all time, and for good reason; it’s affordable, reliable and lot of fun to drive. (And, because they’re incredibly popular, they’re easy to find second hand.)
MX-5s are easily one of the most reliable used cars on the market, and certainly the nicest to look at. Grab them second hand for as little as £2,000 (but the average is around £3,500 or so).
#3: Honda Insight
Reliability Index Rating: 7.00
Average Repair Cost: £137.03
We’re getting towards the cream of the most reliable used cars crop now. With a reliability index rating of 7.00, the Honda Insight is an incredibly reliable car. It’s not going to win any awards for design or how exciting it is to drive, but it’s spacious, reliable and a solid family car.
If you need a larger car that doesn’t break the bank, you can snap one of these up for as little as £700 (but average between £1,500 and £2,000).
#2: Honda Jazz
Reliability Index Rating: 5.00
Average Repair Cost: £175.06
Two podium finishes for Honda! And, were it not for the winner just pipping it by one reliability point, the Honda Jazz could easily have topped the list. It’s economical to run, reliable, practical, compact and versatile. Warranty Direct put it best when they said:
‘Frankly, if you’re after a small, cheap car that’s reliable and practical, you’ll struggle to find anything better than this.’
Plus, you easily snap one up for just under £2,000.
#1: Toyota IQ
Reliability Index Rating: 4.00
Average Repair Cost: £223.94
Pipping the Jazz to the post, the Toyota IQ is an incredibly reliable, compact city car. It drives like a dream too and – although a little cramped – can seat up to four people with boot space to spare. Plus, for the environmentally-conscious among you, it has low emissions too. They’re not cheap though, they average at between £3,000 and £4,000 for a decent used model.
(If you’re in the market for a new car, then be sure to check out our guide to buying second-hand vehicles.)
And, if you’re thinking about borrowing money to pay for it, Bamboo offers a range of loan options that have been designed to help you be approved quickly and be on the road as soon as possible.