United Kingdom

Expensive Land Rovers and Teslas are the most UNRELIABLE cars, says watchdog

British car maker Land Rover and US electric vehicle producer Tesla have been named the two most unreliable manufacturers in a poll of thousands of UK drivers.

Land Rover, which has for years struggled with reliability issues with its big - and expensive - 4X4s, was named the least dependable brand for cars aged 0 to 3 years old and motors between 3 and 8 years in a survey by Which?.

But it has also been joined at the bottom of the list by Elon Musk's car firm, with its pricey plug-in vehicles found to have 'disastrously high fault rates and lengthy garage stays', according to the consumer watchdog.  

Which?'s Car Survey named Land Rover as the least reliable brand, giving its newer and older cars a one out of five star rating for dependability. The Range Rover Sport was scored particularly lowly by drivers

Lowly rating for Land Rover

Which?'s Car Survey was conducted between December 2019 and February 2020, with 47,013 motorists giving a detailed 12-month report on a total of 55,833 cars they own and drive.  

The consumer group found that diesel cars are more fault-prone - particularly older models - than petrol, hybrid and electric vehicles.

Diesel owners across all brands often detail faults with the emissions and exhaust systems in their cars. And with new MOT rules announced in 2018 with stricter measures for diesel motors with particulate filters, this issue is not going to go away soon.

These combined factors are ultimately bad news for the British 4X4 maker. 

Of the 35 different manufacturers reviewed, Land Rover is the only brand to score one star out of five for reliability for both newer and older vehicles. 

Land Rover takes product quality seriously, listening to customers and continuously striving to improve 

Land Rover spokesman 

It has historically been a diesel-heavy manufacturer;; supported by the fact that 92 per cent of survey respondents with Land Rover or Range Rover vehicles said their cars use this fuel type. 

But the manufacturer's reliability goes beyond the fuel it burns, says Which?. 

One of the most persistent issues raised by Land Rover is recurring gremlins with electronic gadgets in the SUVs. 

Owners bemoan problems with the car’s on-board computer software so often that Which? was forced to raise the issues with the manufacturer.

Two models in particular are adversely prone to this issue: Land Rover’s current Range Rover Sport (2013-) and the Range Rover Velar (2017-).

The most common issues with Land Rover models, like the Range Rover Velar pictured, were related to the in-car infotainment system. The luxury car brand said over-the-air updates to the latest systems should resolve any issues

As reported by This is Money last month, so many owners complained about the software that the watchdog recommended to Land Rover than it recalls these models and fix them for free. 

A spokesman for the brand told us: 'Land Rover takes product quality seriously, listening to customers and continuously striving to improve. To this end, Land Rover is introducing software over the air to its new products allowing remote updates without the need to visit a retailer. 

'PIVI, Land Rover's all new infotainment architecture also improves the customer experience which has been recently introduced on our latest products. Furthermore, Land Rover has also offered Apple Car Play and Android Auto free of charge to all customers with compatible infotainment systems.

'Having analysed Which?'s research, Land Rover understands that a sample size of 0.12 per cent of customers owning a Range Rover Velar and 0.22 per cent of owners of a Range Rover Sport have been surveyed. We don't believe this is representative of the vast majority of satisfied customers.

'If any customer would like to talk to our customer services team, they can call: 0370-500-0500.'

Which?'s report shows that Land Rover and Teslas are on average more expensive than all but one other car brand included in their survey (number 16 is likely Porsche) but have the most disappointing scores for reliability

Pricey Tesla electric cars, such as the £80,000 Model S,  were found to have 'disastrously high fault rates and lengthy garage stays'

Teslas are almost as troublesome, says owners of the luxury electric cars

Tesla reliability has been described by the watchdog as 'shocking' after reviewing the reports from UK drivers who own the electric vehicles.

'Teslas seemingly desirable Tesla Model S saloon and Model X SUV both get the poorest possible mark for 0-3-year reliability thanks to disastrously high fault rates and lengthy garage stays,' Which? researchers said.

While it was the two bigger cars in the US brand's range that are the cause for most complaints, a surprising number of owners of the latest - and most affordable - Tesla, the Model 3, have already had complaints.

The very first owners took delivery of their Model 3s in June 2019 and it's gone on to become the best-selling electric car of 2020, topping the sales charts in April and May when dealerships were closed to the public due to Covid-19.

Despite owners only having their cars for six months before completing the latest Which? survey, the consumer champion said it had a big enough sample size to rate the Model 3 for reliability. And plenty of issues have been raised.

Tesla's latest car, the compact Model 3 (which is also its cheapest), only arrived in the UK in June 2019, but owners have already reported issues with their new motors

A quarter (26 per cent) of Model 3 owners said their car had at least one problem that had to be fixed by a mechanic. Given the age of the car, that’s incredibly high.

While these faults were predominantly minor issues they suggest a 'general low level of quality', with paintwork and other exterior trim problems most commonly highlighted in the comprehensive Which? driver poll.

'Although not overly frequent, a number of owners also reported problems with the car’s rainwater seals,' it said. 

Tesla owners had experienced some of the highest fault rates and lengthiest average garage stays - making it one of the least reliable brands

Harry Rose, Which? editor 

'The last thing you expect from your fancy new electric car is for it to let in water.

'Then factor in that 3 per cent of owners we heard from had already seen their car break down. The Model 3 looks destined to go the way of the Model S and Model X in terms of dependability,' researchers added. 

Harry Rose, editor at Which?, said: 'Motorists might assume that paying a premium for a luxury car like a Tesla would improve their chances of avoiding reliability issues and repeated trips to the garage.

'But our research found that Tesla owners had experienced some of the highest fault rates and lengthiest average garage stays in their first three years - making it one of the least reliable brands out of the 35 included in our survey.'

Tesla UK has been contacted by This is Money for comment on the reliability report. 

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