The main problem areas were engine and non-engine electrical systems
Looking for a car requires time and a lot of research as it will be a part of your life for at least a few years, so you want to ensure that it is not unreliable.
Features, practicality and fuel economy are some of the factors to consider when searching for a car.
Over time, cars may experience issues.
Faults range from minor to major but nevertheless, they are an inconvenience that will require you to pay extra to get them fixed.
Some cars experience faults more often than others.
Here are 25 family cars in the UK that are unreliable as well as some of the common faults.
The Mini Clubman has had particular issues that owners have had to contend with.
The main issues owners experience include the air-con, bodywork, engine, exhaust and electronics.
But most Mini Clubmans could still be driven and two-thirds of affected cars were back on the road in less than a week.
Despite this, 17% of owners had to pay between £500 and £750 to fix the issues.
Skoda Octavia petrol
According to owners, the petrol version of the Octavia is not as robust as the diesel.
Fifteen per cent of petrol-engined cars went wrong, compared with 9% of diesels.
The main problem areas were engine and non-engine electrical systems, the sat-nav/infotainment system and the engine.
But 88% of cars were fixed for free and no repair bills exceeded £200.
Seat Leon diesel
The diesel Seat Leon is slightly more unreliable than the petrol version – 19% of diesels had a fault compared with 18% of petrols.
The main issues included the bodywork, engine, fuel system and infotainment system.
Although Seat only covered the cost of 50% of repairs, those who paid did not have to pay more than £200 per repair.
All cars remained driveable and 75% were fixed in less than a week.
Although the Kia Ceed does not face too many serious issues, the slow repairs have a negative effect on its overall reliability.
Around one in five affected cars were considered undrivable until the fault was fixed.
While Kia covered 92% of repairs, some owners had to pay up to £200.
The most common issue was bodywork, followed by problems with the engine and its electrics and the exhaust.
Mazda tends to fare well when it comes to reliability, however, the current Mazda 3 has experienced a number of annoying issues.
The most common ones include the battery, bodywork and various electrical issues.
The estimated cost to maintain and repair a Mazda 3 ranges from £75 to £1,700, with an average of £234.
But most issues tend to be minor and the majority of cars are back on the road in less than a week.
Toyota is known for its reliability but the Prius is not one of its best models.
The main issues include an incorrect reading on the fuel gauge and failure on the centre multi-function display.
The 12-volt battery is also a problem among some drivers.
As a result, two-thirds of cars were rendered undrivable. But they were fixed in less than a week.
Volvo V40 petrol
The Volvo V40 diesel is the sixth most reliable family car but the same can’t be said of its petrol counterparts, especially models produced between 2012 and 2019.
A number of owners have reported a droning noise from their front brakes every time the pedal is pressed.
The V40 also is not immune to the odd cabin leak, which can cause a musty smell.
As a result, some owners were left with bills of up to £500.
The VW Golf is a popular car in the UK but it can be unreliable at times.
Twenty per cent of petrol Golfs experienced faults compared to 33% of diesels.
Petrol Golfs are also quicker and cheaper to fix.
Forty per cent of diesels spent over a week in the workshop, compared with 20% of petrols, and 88% of petrol repairs were covered by Volkswagen while only 55% of diesel bills were paid for.
The main causes of concern for petrol Golf owners were the engine, electrics, gearbox/clutch and air-con.
For most Audi A3 drivers, electrical issues are the main problem.
But there also tends to be issues with the air-con, battery, sat-nav/infotainment and bodywork.
A noisy front suspension and a grinding sound from the steering are prone to the odd failure.
Although Audi garages cover most remedial work, they might charge a fortune for more serious issues.
Repair times also depend because while some cars are fixed in a day or less, many cars have spent more than a week in the garage.
The Kia XCeed is reliable for the most part, however, the most reported fault is to do with bodywork.
There have also been problems with the battery, engine and its electrical systems, exhaust, interior trim and suspension.
Fortunately, the industry-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty gives you the reassurance of long-term, manufacturer-backed support.
Citroen Cactus owners have mainly experienced problems with the electronics.
This includes the fiddly infotainment systems and the stereo performance.
The bodywork, exhaust, fuel system and steering were also common issues.
Despite the issues affecting reliability, it did not stop motorists from driving.
Ford Focus petrol
Although more petrol models went wrong than diesels, petrol models are slightly more reliable.
The most common issues for Ford Focus owners include the battery, bodywork, electrics, gearbox/clutch and sat-nav.
According to the 2022 Driver Power Survey, 21.2% of owners reported a fault within the first year.
Previously, there have been two recalls relating to a stud on the gearbox damaging the wiring loom to the engine.
The first applied to cars made between March 21, 2018, and March 7, 2019, and the second for those built between July 31, 2019, and March 4, 2020.
The most commonly reported fault with the Honda Civic is the air-con.
But there have also been problems with the bodywork, engine and non-engine electrics and the sat-nav/infotainment system.
Most remedial work is either free or costs a small fee.
However, a few owners have reported paying more than £1,500.
The Vauxhall Astra is not the most unreliable family car but there are a number of faults that have taken a while to put right.
Some of the most frequently reported issues for the Astra include the handbrake, brake pedal travel, clutch, bodywork and camshaft sensor.
According to What Car? 70% of Astra owners said the magnitude of faults saw their cars kept in garages for more than a week.
Almost three-quarters were repaired under warranty but four per cent said they had to up to £1,500 in repair fees.
The current Mercedes A-Class has petrol, diesel and hybrid versions and all have suffered a number of reliability issues.
A third of petrol owners had reported problems such as the air-con, bodywork, electrics and interior trim falling off.
Meanwhile, diesel owners have experienced electrical-related issues.
Warranties have covered the cost for most of the repairs but some owners have had to pay between £300 and £1,500 for the fixes.
VW Golf (2020-present)
The current VW Golf is more unreliable than its predecessor, with non-engine electrical issues and sat-nav problems accounting for the majority of faults.
Other woes include the battery, bodywork, fuel system and suspension.
Two in five cars with faults took more than a week to repair.
A small percentage of owners said they had to fork out between £751 and £1,500 to have their cars fixed.
Visually, the VW Tiguan looks good but one major red flag is its unreliability.
Over the years, customers have reported experiencing issues with body integrity as well as the features it comes with.
There have even been issues with the brakes.
Some models have even developed engine failure due to a rough timing chain being at risk of causing irreversible damage to the engine.
Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y may look like an innovative vehicle but it has faced several issues, most notably with its in-car electronics and climate control.
Considering the electric car was released a few years ago, it is unlikely that it will get any major updates anytime soon.
This is possibly the reason why it is an unreliable family car in the UK.
For a long while, the Yeti was one of Skoda’s best family car offerings.
But while practicality is highly-rated, its reliability has suffered.
For a third of owners, it was expensive gearbox issues that were the most common fault along with air-con, bodywork, electrics and suspension.
Given the gearbox issues, it is no surprise that 75% of cars were in the garage for more than a week.
As the Yeti went out of production in 2017, most were no longer covered by a warranty, meaning that owners are having to pay up to £1,000 for repairs.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
For a long time, Land Rover has been one of the most popular luxury SUV manufacturers in the UK and across the world.
However, the Discovery Sport is not known to be reliable.
One of the biggest issues is poor build quality, with many owners complaining about a persistent dashboard rattle.
The SUV has also experienced issues such as squeaky rear tailgate lights and failure of the rear-view camera.
The Peugeot 3008 is a popular car among families and is good to drive.
But when it comes to build quality, it fails to deliver.
Common faults include sensor issues, faulty gearbox couplings and a worn clutch.
Petrol versions are marginally better than diesel versions.
The best thing to do in this situation is to take your car to a mechanic sooner rather than later, the longer you leave it, the worse the problem will get.
The Ford Kuga is an unreliable car when it comes to developing issues.
One of the key faults is a burning clutch which is due to a damaged clutch pressure plate.
Another, albeit less severe issue, is a greasy windscreen. This car is known to have a greasy or smudged windscreen as a result of defective wiper blades.
However, some drivers have reported overheating, which has led to engine meltdowns in extreme cases. This is potentially due to coolant leaks or cracked cylinder heads.
The Nissan Qashqai was replaced with an all-new version in 2021, but the old model continues to disappoint when it comes to reliability.
Some common issues include the stop/start function not working properly and the loss of power.
In some cases, there has been a fault with the Type Approved towbar, preventing Nissan dealers from fitting them.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE has experienced a number of faults, mainly from its engine and in-car electronics.
Body integrity is also a commonly reported fault.
Some owners have even found that the Collision Prevention Assist has not been working, which could be dangerous.
For one owner, the system was not working because the non-safety-plus systems had two sensors while it only needed one.
The Volvo XC90 has been ranked as one of the least reliable cars to buy, with drivers reporting various issues.
This includes the drive system, body hardware and climate system.
But the biggest problem was issues with the exhaust or emission control system.
While many of these grumbles are relatively inexpensive to repair – such as trim and door handle problems – others would have cost a fair sum to put right.
Fixing suspension on a big, high-riding 4X4, and repairing or replacing a turbo will have set owners back hundreds of pounds.
These are 25 family cars in the UK that can be unreliable due to common faults.
If you are in the market for a new car, it is best to speak to the dealer to ensure you get all the relevant information.
Test drive at least three different cars to properly to give you a proper idea of what to buy and what to stay clear of.