Who makes the most reliable engines?

Figures released by a consumer warranty company show that some famous-name car brands make some of the least reliable engines on the market.

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“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 European 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!

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

You should also read:

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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  1. Some of these comments!!! If you cannot spell or form a proper sentence, how can you possibly be knowledgeable about automobiles?? Go sit down! ‍♀️

    • This information on the Manufactures “numbers” helps, but, is only half the story on reliability. Just about all the Mfg have had winners and losers. In early automotive history, Fords, and the Dodge Brothers built the most reliable engines, but things change rapidly. For example many Mfg’s did not put in “pumpers” (Oil pumps) relying on “splash” Lubrication until it was standard on the Ford V8. In the 60’s and 70’s the Chrysler

  2. Mitsubishi is the best value on the market and are extremely reliable. The fairly new plant in Thailand is second to none.

  3. Mitsubishi makes the best car’s period if you are value conscious. Extremely reliable. Look @ how many old eclipses are still on the road and others. I’m driving another one I bought a couple of years ago. $14500 out the door

  4. I don’t understand my truck is a 1969 ford f100 that i bought off my grandpa good trucks like that are way better and will last much longer then any Japanese or German brand. parts are cheap and easy to find and if they almost impossible to wreak cause they were built to last. straight six all day everyday!

  5. I wish mine would breakdown so I could get a new one. My GMC is 20 years old and blows cold air and doesn’t leave me on the side of the road.

    • lol, dont you know that it is normal for cars not to break down? you say it like it would be something special that your bmw have lasted 7 years.. 7 years is nothing. many cars from 80s still run with zero breakdowns.

      but you are just some stupid fanboy that must get to say “my car is the best”, you know nothing about cars so stop making fool of yourself.

      statistics tells the story

  6. Worshippers of ‘premium’ brands won’t like it but this is a true reflection of reality. At the place I’ve worked for the last five years (of around 40 staff), it is largely German brands that let their owners down, while I cannot recall a single Japanese car doing the same.

    At least 3 employees sold their car due to problems, with affected brands being BMW and Audi. I have also noticed the German car buyers change their car the most. They’ve paid the brand premium yet are not satisfied with their choice?

    It is safe to assume that 40 drivers and 5 years is enough to overcome random chance.

    Make a mental note of the cars you see stranded by the roadside. With enough time this should reveal what the statistics tell us.

    • I have no issue with this list. I am not surprised that Honda, Toyota are occupying the top spots. BMW on the other hand can’t even come close to the Toyota or Honda reliability considering the failure rates. However why people change cars is not always because they have problems. Some people like driving a new car. If you have the money to do it I don’t see why not!

  7. The truth is all of these manufacturers have produced tremendously reliable and well built engines and terrible junk. These statistics seem to show an average of all the engines each manufacturer ever made. While gm makes the notorious LS engine they also made the Corvair engine. Jeep made the indestructible 4.0 but now also a whole bunch of other junk engines. Each car builder has had both failures and successes, the rare vehicles that hold combinations of these winning components are the ones that go down in history.

    • Finally!!! A reasonable comment from someone who sounds like they actually have a brain. And not just some brand loyalty lovefest. Thanks.

  8. What no Mopar engines, this list is way to modern for me, Im still driving a 1972 318 Plymouth Satellite, and a 1962 Ford Fairlane 170- 6 how did those do also, Ford engines last 56 years in our families lol.

  9. I may be a little biased because i’v only had Honda’s since 1979 but I can honestly vouch for Honda being the most reliable as I have never had any issues other than routine services and brakes and tyre changes. All you have to do to back this is make a note of all the cars you see broken down on your hard shoulders, this report is as near as damit very near the mark

    • I had a Honda City, that needed an engine repair in a period of just within five years since the purchase.

  10. A problem with this list is that Vauxhall is fifth from the bottom, yet on the Warranty Direct website, the reliability of Vauxhall engines is recorded as being better than average……………………..

  11. Very biased and unresearched article. Any and everyone that knows anything about engines know that Chevy engines are notoriously reliable and durable, most all will last 300000+ with very little maintenance and much abuse. I will choose a Chevy Everytime.

    • @Gary. Well over here in the UK, where the site is registered, we don’t have Chevy. Not everything is about you Yanks. There are many more countries than America, some of whom produce the worlds most reliable engines.

    • Hi Gary. This is a UK site, and Chevrolet hasn’t officially existed in the UK for several years now. Before that, they only sold rubbish Daewoo models that were priced as budget cars underneath their Vauxhall and Opel brands. The engines are nothing like the Chevrolet engines sold in America.

  12. BMW are awful!! after 2005 forget it!, I had one for one year it never gave me that much trouble it was an E46 and like I said I didn’t have it long, my friend had one too and he had nothing but trouble, I sold it and bought a new e90 OMG!! nothing but problem after problem, then you have the engine problems with timing chains, I had to get rid in the end as even BMW didn’t know what was wrong with it!! (you can laugh) in the end I bought a run around kept it a year deciding what to buy next, in the end I decided on a Mercedes-Benz E class and I can say I’ve had it coming up to 2 years and it’s cost me £1.50p for a brake spring so think about what you buy!

    • It depends which engine’s in the car. GM’s V6 engine, seen in G8, terrain, enclave, cts, & a few others – has a timing chain which stretches at 100k km – resulting in a $4,000 job. Research the engine prior to buying.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    • Well, apart from the fact that it was research conducted by a warranty company – you know, the sort of company that deals with mechanical reliability on a daily basis? Unlike you, who is clearly “some simple fan and not a person with knowlege (sic) really”

  20. 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Audi turned a corner in 2012/13 when they facelifted most of their lineup (although it was much more than a facelift), they seem to have made bullet-proof stuff since then.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

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Motorway Online Ltd is a commercial partner of The Car Expert. If you click on any Motorway banner on this site, you will be taken to the Motorway website. If you proceed to sell your car through Motorway, we may receive a commission. This does not affect the price you receive for your car.