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Car reliability survey

Our latest car reliability member survey gives the low down on breakdowns.
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01 .Introduction


Car reliability up to scratch?

Advanced technologies used by car manufacturers aim to make your car ride as smooth and safe as possible, with the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarding more and more vehicles the highest safety ratings. Manufacturers might be upping their game in these areas but are they doing enough to rev up their car reliability? We surveyed our members to find out. 

For more useful information, see CHOICE Cars.

CHOICE's car reliability survey

We aim to find out:

  • The most and least reliable car.
  • Overall satisfaction.
  • Brand loyalty.

A total of 7021 cars, all owned by our members, were assessed for reliability. Our analysis covered vehicles made between January 2002 and October 2009. We found, not surprisingly, that the number of cars that had broken down the previous year increased with age. Of the one to two year-old models, 19% had broken down in the past 12 months. This increased to 26% for models between three to five years old and 32% for six to eight-year-old models. 


All included models 2002-2004
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8L (ZZE122R)
  • Subaru Forester 2.5L (2nd GEN)
  • Honda Accord 2.4L (Euro variants)
  • Mitsubishi Magna 3.5L (TJ - TW Series II)
  • Nissan X-trail 2.5L (T30)
  • Mazda Mazda6 2.3L (GG-GY)
  • Ford Falcon 4.0L (BA)
  • Holden Astra 1.8L (TS)
All included models 2005-2007
  • Nissan X-trail 2.5L (T30)
  • Mazda Mazda3 2.0L (BK)
  • Toyota Yaris 1.5L (NCP91R)
  • Honda Accord 2.4L (Euro variants only)
  • Toyota Aurion 3.5L (GSV40R)
  • Mazda Mazda6 2.3L (GG-GY)
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8L (ZRE152R)
  • Subaru Forester 2.5L (2nd GEN)
  • Toyota Corolla 1.8L (ZZE122R)
  • Subaru Impreza 2.0L (2nd GEN)
  • Subaru Outback 2.5L (3rd GEN)
  • Ford Falcon 4.0L (BF)
  • Holden Commodore 3.6L (VZ)
  • Subaru Liberty 2.5L (4th GEN)
  • Volkswagen Golf - Turbo 2.0L (1K)
  • Ford Territory 4.0L (SY)
All included models 2008-2009
  • Toyota Aurion 3.5L (GSV40R)
  • Mazda Mazda6 2.5L (GH)
  • Subaru Forester 2.5L (3rd GEN)
  • Mazda Mazda2 1.5L (DE)
  • Toyota Landcruiser - Turbo 3.0L (KDJ120R)

How we survey

  • In November 2010, 7018 CHOICE members completed our car reliability survey. We had an 8% response rate.
  • The survey aims to identify the most and least reliable cars, as well as rate how satisfied consumers are with their cars and whether they would buy the same make and model again (brand loyalty).
  • For a type of car to be included in the analysis we needed a minimum sample size of 30 from each year group.
  • Reliability is determined by whether a car has broken down in the past 12 months. A breakdown is defined as the car breaking down in operation, failing to start or being unavailable for at least a day due to repairs.
  • Members are able to report on two vehicles, bringing the total number of vehicles surveyed to 7021.
  • We report on cars manufactured between January 2002 and October 2009. Newer cars haven’t spent 12 months on the road, and the reliability of cars older than nine years is strongly affected by factors other than the design or the quality of manufacture (such as driving conditions, style or the maintenance schedule).
  • For all analysis, makes and models have been split into three age groups depending on when they were manufactured – 2002-2004, 2005-2007 and 2008-2009.

Before you buy tips

  • Set your price range and know exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Check if the model has a safety rating from ANCAP. Aim for a vehicle with a four- or five-star rating – these cars offer you the highest level of protection in the event of a crash.
  • What’s the fuel efficiency? The Green Vehicle Guide has a fuel calculator.
  • Ongoing service and repair costs. Your car will need regular servicing (generally every 5000 to 10,000kms). Also, check how much you’ll be set back when it comes to major services (eg: water pump, brake pads, etc). The NRMA website has a car-operating costs calculator.
  • Research insurance premiums.
  • Consider your lifestyle – rear-seat space for children and boot space.
  • Where are the anchorage points for child restraints? These points differ for all models and makes. Check out CHOICE's Babies and Kids, travel section for more information.
  • Towing capacity – if you plan on towing a boat/caravan/trailer.
  • Look out for safety features. Does the car have features like Electronic Stability Control (ESC), front, side and head airbags and antilock brakes?
  • If you’re buying a used car, consider a vehicle inspection and check the used car safety ratings at

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