Who makes the most reliable engines?

Car buying advice
Honda makes the most reliable engines in the world

“If only everything in life was as reliable as Volkswagen” posited the famous 1987 advert for the Volkswagen Golf.

Similarly, Audi declares: “Vorsprung durch Technik.”  Loosely translated, this means “advancement through technology” and both of these slogans are designed to instil a feeling of confidence in each company’s engineering prowess.

Unfortunately, however, the truth can be very different. Figures recently released by consumer warranty company Warranty Direct show that Volkswagen, Audi and BMW make some of the least reliable engines on the market.

Audi came second-from-bottom in the engine reliability charts with one failure in every 27, beaten only by the now defunct MG Rover.

It’s a poor showing for BMW’s MINI brand, too, coming in at third-from-bottom with one failure in every 40, while BMW themselves take up the seventh slot in between Peugeot and Renault with 1 in 45.

Volkswagen makes its appearance in the ninth-from-bottom position, with one in every 52 owners suffering an engine fault of some kind.

Audi R8 engine fire

An Audi R8 with a minor overheating issue.

So who makes the most reliable engines?

Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s the Japanese, with the top spot taken by Honda. Only one in every 344 Honda owners have had engine trouble, with second-placed rival Toyota notching up just 1 in 171.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the German marques, though, with Mercedes-Benz taking third, followed closely by Volvo.

The Brits have something to be cheerful about, with Jaguar placed fifth and Land Rover in tenth – although in the interests of yin and yang we should note that JLR’s repair costs were considered very high, with one Range Rover Sport owner quoted nearly £15,000 to repair an engine failure.

The biggest surprise, however, comes in the form of seventh-placed Fiat who recorded a creditable one failure in 85, beating both Ford and Nissan.

Remember that next time an Audi salesman tries to convince you to sign on the dotted line!

You should also read:
New car warranty – do I have to take the car back to the dealership
Independent garages vs. franchised dealerships – the pros and cons

Top 10 manufacturers – most reliable engines

ManufacturerFailure Rate
1Honda1 in 344
2Toyota1 in 171
3Mercedes-Benz1 in 119
4Volvo1 in 111
5Jaguar1 in 103
6Lexus1 in 101
7Fiat1 in 85
8Ford1 in 80
9Nissan1 in 76
10Land Rover1 in 72

Bottom 10 manufacturers – least reliable engines

ManufacturerFailure Rate
1MG Rover1 in 13
2Audi1 in 27
3MINI1 in 40
4Saab1 in 40
5Vauxhall1 in 41
6Peugeot1 in 44
7BMW1 in 45
8Renault1 in 46
9Volkswagen1 in 52
10Mitsubishi1 in 59


Alex Kefford is a freelance motoring journalist and editor of TestDriven which carries news, reviews and videos for the UK car market.


  1. Where is GM for engine reliability?

  2. Not surprising, Bmw has alawys been very unreliable cars, and the new TSI engines by VW / Audi are some of the worst engines ever made, with a very high failure rate, not to forget the horrible Audi 3.2 V6, if you like engine failures, that is the engine for you.

  3. If you want a reliable badge buy German, if the car matters more buy Japanese and
    spend the cash you saved on a 6 month cruise – no brainer.

  4. Vauxhall….1 in 41

  5. Whats audi a3 2.o tdi like for reliability

    • Stuart Masson

      Hi Jamie. Earlier 2.0 TDIs (mid-2000s) have a mixed record for reliability, but as far as I know the newer ones are pretty reliable.

  6. this is all bull**** in the internet there is a lot of contradictions, there is nothing about American engines, and are among the most used for engine swaps

    • Stuart Masson

      This is a UK site, and American engines do not feature heavily on cars sold here, let alone for engine swaps.

    • You are right about contradictions on the internet. That is because a lot of the internet “reviews” are opinion based. This is based on statistics. Facts are always more omnipotent than opinions.

  7. this is a post made by some simple fan not a person with knowlege really

  8. The reliable cars are only the ones made in Japan. You do not have to worry about the engine at all.Most European cars just look pretty but low engine reliability e.g. alfa romeo with selespeed transmission, the worst ever produced., peugeot, renault, volvo, vw, bmw, audi are easily seen stranded by the roadside or on the tow truck. Need to learn more from the japs.

  9. One thing I always wonder why european car makers never get their cars done perfectly as compared to the Japs? Some have manufactured their products since early 20th century. Euro car divers will always start to worry that their cars will get overheated when driving in a jam.

  10. Sorry guys. I don’t wish to bias on this. I discovered this myself being an owner of a few euro and jap cars. I had been on tow trucks a few times when driving my BMW E46, Alfa Romeo 164 and Alfa Romeo 147 Selespeed. Engine stalled while drving, gear could not engage, etc.

  11. In Malaysia, many jap cars made in 1980s, 1990s are still running well on the road. The engine and body are still good. Furthermore , they are easy and cheap to maintain.

  12. Mercedes are the only German brand close to Jap cars. Wonder why there’s no Korean cars mentioned like Hyundai?

  13. By the way, to anyone wondering where GM is, take a look at Vauxhall. That’s who makes their engines and share a lot of the same engines in NA. Vauxhall is under the GM umbrella until this year.

  14. That is incorrect. This is based on statistics. Don’t get bent out of shape because YOUR favorite brand didn’t make the cut. That is not very mature. Facts<Opinions.

  15. Wrong. Absolutely wrong. GM is notorious for indestructible engines.

  16. Honda all day.


What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

Lost Password