/ Motoring

Why we want seven cars to be recalled

Our latest annual car survey has revealed seven cars that each have a single fault that’s so prolific, we think their manufacturers should recall them.

Thanks to the 47,013 people who took the time to fill in our survey and report on the 55,883 cars they own and drive, we can analyse reliability data for 280 models and 34 brands.

That means we know an awful lot about the cars on UK roads.

Digging into the data, we can spot the outliers. The cars whose owners have reported a fault that is so far above the average that they stand out from the crowd. 

The cars are:

🔷 Nissan Qashqai (2014-)

🔷 Nissan Pulsar (2014-2018)

🔷 Nissan Juke (2010-2019)

🔷 BMW 5 Series Touring (2010-2017)

🔷 Land Rover Range Rover Velar (2017)

🔷 Land Rover Range Rover Sport (2013)

🔷 Tesla Model S (2013-)

You can read the full cars we want recalled story here, which includes the manufacturers’ responses.

Why a recall?

We think the single faults we’ve identified are so commonly reported by owners in our survey that we think it’s likely a fault with the car’s manufacturing.

If a car has a known weakness, why should the owner have to put up with it and, if the car’s out of warranty, pay for it? 

Yes, cars do pick up problems. Like us, they suffer from aches and pains as they age. But our survey is powerful enough to bring to light these cars that stand out from the crowd. And the cars listed here are only the ones that have a prolific single fault.

Other cars suffer from a cacophony of faults. On the plus side, we can also identify cars that are keeping their owners happy and the manufacturers that are making cars you can rely on.

So before you buy a car, make sure you use our most reliable cars tool to check what owners have been saying about it.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you. Do you own one of the cars listed here and have you experienced the fault we’ve identified?

Please tell us about your experiences. 


I agree about getting confirmation of the scales of the problems highlighted. I hope Adrian will give us the number of respondents in the survey for each of the seven models. Land Rover suggested, for example, the number of respondents was too small to be representative and BMW effectively also claimed the results were not representative.

I agree that where a fault was a clear design or quality problem then owners should not be disadvantaged. Hopefully most will occur within the guarantee period but others don’t. A question is how long protection should be provided. BMW are, for example, recalling many cars to remedy the EGR valve, certainly when they are 5 years old.

Once upon a time the AA and RAC might have been the right organisations to collect this information and act on behalf of their Members. Now they are just effectively insurance companies.

Once again, though, like a number of other product issues these are “international” cars and presumably all owners throughout Europe (and beyond) would be similarly affected. So far more data could be assembled by getting all the European consumer organisations, under BEUC, to similarly survey their members and get the clout necessary to better tackle manufacturers. In this case Which? could perhaps ask them to just survey their European counterparts’ on only the suspect models they have identified.

The battery on my Nissan Juke N-Connecta 2016 reg failed after 2 years. Diagnosed as “from a bad batch” by Nissan Dealer and replaced under warranty.

John Day says:
24 August 2020

We have owned a 2014 Qashqai from new the battery died at about 2 years and was replaced under warranty which wasn’t a big deal
The bigger story involving this model and the Pulsar fitted with the 1.2 petrol engine is the failure of these engines
Ours failed at 4 years old fortunately Nissan replaced the engine free of charge despite being 1 year out of warranty. On the day are car was diagnosed with engine failure another car at the dealership was also identified with the same problem
This is the issue that should be recalled
My understanding of the problem is that piston rings where fitted upside down in a batch of engines which causes excessive wear and oil usage
There has been no media exposure for this problem which there should have been

Snap. Wife’s 2014 Qashqai was sold to her before the engine management software had been completed / patched. Fixed after almost two years of dealer not being adept at diagnosis. 2016 1.2l model had battery and engine oil usage faults – should note it’s a renault engine. 2018 model seems to be fault free so far . . .

Its not just these models, my Nissan X-trail battery less than 3 years old has died today.

I think this needs to be opened up to all models of Nissan under 3 years old, not just the ones highlighted.

J Douglas says:
25 August 2020

Hello, I was interested to read about this in the latest magazine.
I purchased the model second hand in March 2014. So the model is the new 2010 plate. I have had several problems with the suspension since purchase. In 2014/15 (would need to check specific date) the O/F rear air suspension bag burst and had to be replaced. I then had further problems with the air suspension Nov 17 when the rear suspension dropped on both sides. On this occasion the car was in and out of the garage several times over several weeks. Rear height sensor replaced, fault found on lifting control time but all fixed at the time. For several months now there has been an intermittent fault with the air suspension on O/F rear and the car sometimes drops right down over the tyre when parked. You can hear the pump running to raise the height to normal which eventually will cause the pump to burn out. I don’t want to spend any more money fixing this problem so am ignoring! There are no warning lights to tell me anything is wrong but I know from the garage the car suspension should not drop like this. On reading your article I called BMW to make them aware and they advised me to take my car to a main dealership for it to undergo diagnostics which will tell me if there is a fault. I would have to pay for this diagnostic test. I don’t know what to do. Should I pay for the diagnostics to be told there is a problem but if BMW say it isn’t a manufacturing problem with the car I then am left with the bill and I have already had probably spent at least £2,000 on previous bills relating to the air suspension. Certainly interested to hear I am not alone with suspension problems on this BMW model.

Peter Rowley says:
27 August 2020

Quite a coincidence. I have a 2017 Qashqai Tekna with the 1.2 engine and cvt box, 12000 miles on the clock. On Monday, 24/08/20 the car failed to start and after a visit from Nissan Assistance (RAC) they diagnosed a dud battery. New RAC branded battery fitted. Fortunately, the warranty doesn’t end until December 2020 so the £214.00 cost was covered. Incidentally, Nissan Assistance took 90 mins to arrive – location Farnborough, Hampshire so in line with Which’s recent survey on breakdown companies.

J.Hadfield says:
27 August 2020

The battery in my 2018 Qashqai kept going flat earlier this year, despite repeated charging and 20-30 mile drives to keep it charged. I called the dealer, who told me to ring the RAC under Nissan’s warranty scheme, and the battery was replaced. The RAC mechanic said Nissans had installed faulty batteries over several years, but had now changed supplier.

maninthedales says:
28 August 2020

Land Rover say that they listen to customers. They do not, however, believe in communicating with customers. Since lockdown began my RR Velar had functioned well until a software download in July. At about that time messages appeared saying ‘low battery start engine’. Even journeys of 200 miles did not stop this happening and so the car was booked in for a battery recharge. Before taking the car in I had another software download. Low and behold no more problems and appointment cancelled. Since then no trouble. LR clearly knew that there was a problem and rightly produced a software update to correct it, but neither they nor the dealer appear willing to tell the customer what needs to happen. The solution was there but seemingly it is to be kept secret.

I have a Nissan Juke 2017 and had to replace battery earlier this year. I have also had to replace the light unit for indicator which cost me £450 to replace. Will not buy Nissan again

I have also had fuel problems with the Nissan Juke

David says:
31 August 2020

My Nissan Qashqia was coming up to 3 years old, I was at the Hospital and my car would not start so i had to call the RAC they came out and changed the battery.

how about adding Volvo cars to your list! mind you Volvo is recalling various models because they have discovered that there is a fault with the safety belt anchorages and need replacing as they may part . But when I contacted my dealer they apologised because the fittings are not available until DECEMBER !!! Here we go again!

DavidEdwards – Which? subscribers will have seen that the front cover of the latest magazine showcases the Volvo XC90 as the “UK’s most unreliable car”.

There are ten pages of reporting and data on car reliability in the September issue but, for obvious reasons, Which? does not give away all its research results on a public platform such as this.

But for some reason the Volvo XC90 was not considered offensive enough to justify a recall, or perhaps it is not one of Britain’s most popular cars.

If this article is correct, a recall is already in place: https://www.standard.co.uk/business/volvo-recall-cars-seatbelt-fault-a4485946.html

It was reliability (lack of) of the Volvo XC90 that Which? focused on, not safety. They claim cars between 3 and 8 years old had a 74% fault rate and 17% broke down. Reliability problems do not usually seem the subject of recalls unless safety is involved.

Car manufacturers usually issue recalls when they have evidence of a problem and thanks to the fact that the keeper is registered there is a good chance that the owner will learn about the problem. Sometimes it takes pressure to get manufacturers to respond and BBC Watchdog claims to have forced a recall over an electrical problem that caused BMW models to stall without warning.

My BMW 530GT has had identical suspension problems as described regarding the Tourer model:. The complete front and rear suspension has been replaced including the self-levelling airbag system. Thankfully, most of this was done under a warranty purchased.

Full page picture of a Volvo XC90. ” The UK’s most UNRELIABLE CAR ” A loud and clear message to those who might be interested. BUT are you being ” FAIR ” as the paragraph in the magazine ” The curiuous case of the XC90 ” seems to row back from one of the most potentially damning front cover’s I have ever read, particularly as many people are totally influenced by such headlines and never go on to read the detail. My view is that the statistics may be correct but the overall impression is somewhat different.
BTW. Your reviews of the current XC range have also been downgraded it would seem on the back of problems with their diesel engines. Volvo is pushing on with going green by promoting it’s Hybrid or Recharge versions and as a result the offending diesel engines in the XC40 have been withdrawn.

Here is one of the Which? cover photos that I found most memorable, over the years. It’s from September 1988. It’s rather worrying that this was at 20 mph:

The recent cover photo of the Volvo has not registered with me and the take-away message from the article was, for me, that expensive cars can often be troublesome, with Lexus being a notable exception.

Hi Wavechange,

No the XC90 is not pictured doing a Mercedes A Class ” flip over ” like your Suzuki front cover which is perhaps why it hasn’t grabbed your attention, in fact it looks very much a 2020 premium SUV. Yes, the statistics compiled ” from more than 47,000 drivers ” don’t make happy reading for XC90 owners. BUT it was NOT 47,000 XC90 drivers who responded , ( misleading or ambiguos ? ) as only 755 owners of 1-3 year old cars and 573 of 3-8 year cars for ALL Volvo models who responded. So exactly how many XC90 owners provided this information and ????

Finally Which conceded that there was no common single XC90 issue , from how many undisclosed respondents please , that as you have read , put this car into their recall catergory of naming and shaming

Logos, I made a similar comment at the beginning of this Convo – I hope Adrian will give us the number of respondents in the survey for each of the seven models. Land Rover suggested, for example, the number of respondents was too small to be representative and BMW effectively also claimed the results were not representative.”

But there was no response. So maybe the conclusions were not robust, or maybe wrong? Having the full data would help.

Hi Logos – Which? has generally avoided going down the road of shaming manufacturers. Unfortunately we are given little information about the nature of faults with the cars mentioned, how much they cost to fix and whether the manufacturers are footing the bill, all of which would be useful information. At least in the case of the Volvo in question, there is no indication that there are safety issues.

As a scientist I’m always keen to have access to data that could help me judge whether conclusions are justified. There’s too many pictures of cars and too little information.

David Wheeler says:
12 October 2020

My new Ford Kuga ST line X hybrid has been recalled with a serious safety issue. The Hi voltage battery may CATCH FIRE!
The dealer cancelled the booking as they could not fix the problem as a. they have not been told how to fix it and b. they do not have the replacement parts to fix it anyway.
Ford will not provide a replacement car or loan car as it it a lease car???? But surely it is still their problem.
Lex Autolease are sat on their hands while they make up there minds as what to do.

In the mean time what do I do?

This is what is said:
The new Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid (PHEV) only went on sale in the UK earlier this year, but within a couple of months, sales of the vehicle were halted due to concerns about the batteries overheating and causing fires.

Ford released a statement in August saying the sale of Kuga PHEVs built before 26 June 2020 had been temporarily suspended and a safety recall issued that is believed to affect up to 27,000 cars globally.

The statement also confirmed that “four vehicle fires are likely to have been caused by the overheating of the high-voltage batteries”.

Owners who had already taken delivery of Kugas were told to only use their cars in EV auto drive mode, which is the setting the car automatically reverts to when the batteries have been run down. This means owners can’t make use of the car’s official pure electric driving range of 35 miles.

The company had already given affected owners a free three-year service and maintenance plan as a goodwill gesture over the fault, and in October it stated they would also get a £500 fuel card to make up for the fact that their cars are less fuel-efficient than they should be.

Ford has advised drivers not to use affected cars in battery-only mode to avoid the risk of fire. This reminds me of Whirlpool telling a large number of owners of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines not to use their machines above room temperature until they were modified or replaced. Some will ignore the advice, which could put themselves and others in danger. Some Kuga owners will have bought their cars with the intention of using battery-only mode when driving in city centres to avoid contributing to air pollution.

Some drivers might be happy with what they have been offered, but in David’s position I would push Ford for what he has suggested.

BMW has recalled the plug-in hybrid cars that it has sold this year: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/10/bmw-issues-recall-for-all-its-plug-in-hybrid-cars/ The recall relates to the battery, whereas the problem with the Ford Kuga affected the electronics.

TD Shaw says:
23 October 2020

I own a 2014 Qashqai, bought in 2016. In 2019 the car stalled at traffic lights and would not re-start. I called RAC but before they arrived, the dashboard sprang into life and I was able to continue my journey. I mentioned this breakdown at my local Nissan garage when I took the car in for a service a month or two later, but service reception expressed ignorance as to the cause. A few months later I tried to start the car at home but the battery was flat. Again I called that RAC and a guy turned up with a new battery. He told me that as soon as he heard the age of the car and the problem, he knew it would be the battery. He’d lost count of the number of Qashqai batteries he’d replaced, all because the factory fitted battery could not cope with the ‘Start/Stop’ system on the vehicle. The car is due for a service again in November and so armed with your September edition and an invoice for the new ‘RAC’ battery I shall be approaching the Service Manager with some decent ammunition. Thank you.

Andy Ayre says:
15 November 2020

I currently have a 2016 Ford Mondeo With an 1.5l Ecoboost engine. This engine has failed after only just over 40,000 miles. The garage cannot say what has caused the engine to fail and it has been properly serviced and maintained. I am aware that Ford have had problems in the past with other Ecoboost engines but their very poor attitude toward a long time Ford owner is appalling. It is true that brand loyalty counts for very little and acceptance by a company that their product may not be as great as they think is non existent almost. The slowness with which a complaint is dealt with makes me think that they hope people who complain will just give up and go away!

Hi Andy – It might be worth contacting Ford in case they are prepared to offer goodwill. Alternatively you can make a claim against the retailer under the Consumer Rights Act. In view of the cost of repairs it could be worth getting help from Which? Legal: https://legalservice.which.co.uk

Back in 1989 the engine in my VW car failed and I managed to get a new engine for my car that was over three years old, though I did have to pay for it to be fitted. Best of luck.

I have read with interest your survey work on unreliable cars. But I believe there is an even bigger travesty of justice around car Warranty responses. My nearly new Ford Focus Vignale has been to two different Ford main dealers in Wiltshire 8 times over the past four months. For a total of 28 working days the car has been with Ford Technicians’. They have downloaded, reinstalled the software many times but because there is no direct “error code” telling them what to change Ford’s policy is replace nothing, do nothing. To make matters worse Ford has cut back on availability of curtesy cars so I am left without transport for days at a time. I’m sure other Which car members have experienced similar, very poor post sales service from main dealers. May I suggest Which looks into the current way car manufacturers deal with Warranty issues.