/ Motoring

Land Rovers unreliable but the brand’s still strong

Land Rover Discovery

The Which? Car Reliability Survey has placed Land Rover at the bottom of the pile. But we’re still buying them, so shouldn’t these reliability ratings make their way into showrooms?

It gives me absolutely no pleasure at all to award Land Rover the title of this year’s most unreliable car brand.

Overall, the British-built 4x4s (Range Rover included) scored a pitiful 67.5% in the 2010 Which? Car Reliability Survey. The Land Rover Discovery was proclaimed the most unreliable new car on sale today. Ouch.

But we’re still buying Land Rovers

This is all the more dispiriting when you look at the Which? Car Survey results from 2009. And 2008. Oh sorry, and 2007. Yep, Land Rover has become pretty friendly with the bottom rungs of the reliability ladder. Yet, as a brand, it remains remarkably resilient.

Perceived brand value will have a lot to do this – like it or not, Land Rover still offers a sense of superiority next to ‘lower’ brands, like this year’s reliability winner, the Kia Picanto. Asking a Land Rover owner to relinquish their wheels for something more dutiful would be impossible without risking an identity crisis.

Should we let consumers continue to buy blind?

The answer to that question is ‘no chance’. Poor reliability is bad news for both the customer and the manufacturer, so I’d like to see this rich data shared with manufacturers, and also made standard in showrooms.

Customers get the low-down on everything from performance, to the environment, all in easy-to-digest charts, so why not include a reliability index? Surely it all adds up to the cost of ownership?

I think if the words ‘the AA man is my new best friend’ were implied on a Land Rover Discovery’s score sheet, it’d have a profound effect on both sales and the speed at which fixes to these reliability issues were implemented.

Truth be told I’m both a car enthusiast and a brand snob, so one day I’d actually quite fancy owning a Range Rover. But I’d just like to know that it’ll still work after four years. That’s not too much to ask, is it?


No Mr. Q, you've got it wrong – they ARE reliable…

…they're "reliably (not reassuringly) expensive" for what they are and should be kept out in the fields amongst the cows – they're fantastic there chewing up the dirt, showing tractors a thing or two. There's just no need for them in Chelsea!

It makes them interesting to own, akin to japanese men buying british built triumph motorbikes.
Ask the **** why they liked their british bikes and the answer was if you took a Honda on a long journey, you knew you would get to your destination without ever breaking down. where as every journey on a british bike was an adventure because something interesting would always go wrong en route, so you always had an interesting story to tell 🙂

tony miller says:
23 July 2010

I’m really surprised by the unreliability results of Land rover. The two recent Land Rover products I’ve owned ( a Td5 Discovery and Range Rover TDV8 Vogue, both bought new) have been totally reliable over 60K mileage (Discovery) and 40K mileage (R.R.)

I’ve owned several so-called "Prestige" marques from BMW, Mercedes and Audi but the Land Rovers are much better built and more reliable.

George Moses says:
23 July 2010

What’s happened to car bumpers?

If it’s your misfortune to have to try to squeeze your car into a tight gap the chances are that if you just touch the car in front or behind (and vice versa, of course) you’ll have to get the touch up paint out, that is if you are fortunate enough not to have dented bodywork too.

I agree. I remember many years ago, a neighbour backing carelessly into the car of my uncle who was parked outside while visiting. There was quite a bang, but my uncle’s car was unblemished, as he had a Saab, with good solid bumpers.

Paul Thomas says:
24 July 2010

Every year it is pretty clear which manufacturers win the reliability awards. There is really no excuse for others to meet this standard as each manufacturer would probably boast that they have the most advanced manufacturing systems and quality control. So is it component design that is the issue ? Possibly ! My 17 year old son recently had a 52 plate Peugeot 206 as his first car. This car seems to tick a lot of boxes – style , versatility and small engine. However we quickly encountered problems I did not foresee until we drove the car for a while. Wobbly gearstick and clunky gearchange and an indicator stalk that does its own thing in changing to left after turning right are just one of the common issues ! The internet is of course a wonderful thing and checking quickly showed these are all common problems. Changing the gear linkage was pretty easy and around £70 for parts from a Peugeot dealer. The indicator mechanism is one whole unit though and costs £240ish exc labour – although it is easy to remove the airbag ( following safety precautions) steeering wheel etc and do it yourself. The point is here that, in my opinion these are both design issues. So much so my dealer tells me they sell several of each every week. The next point is after sales. If there are common issues why don’t manufacturers recognise this, modify the deign and make replacements much cheaper ? So – is it all down to design and of course….cost ?

I drive many miles a year with my job. I never repeat never see a Land Rover broken down. I do see a lot of Toyota’s, Mercedes, Renault’s, Citrons & BMW broken down on the side of motorway’s. I drive Toyota’s & have had 5 new Toyota’s over a number of years. All have had break problems & the current Verso has the worst Auto box I have ever driven. Why are they always in the top.
I tell you why, we put up with these problems because its a Toyota & you get good after sales service. If its a Land Rover then people complain about the most trivial of problems, which they could probably put wright them selves by driving correctly.

Toyota The Most Reliable Brand says:
11 August 2014

Friend you are wrong, toyota’s rock in every field, if land rovers were this much reliable then why should UN would buy Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrol in such a heavy numbers? Also why the best 4×4 is Mercedes G Class that is used by military in such a great numbers!!

“… Toyotas rock in every field …” That’s to be expected when cars are driven on uneven surfaces. 😉

I don’t think that many people will claim that Land Rovers are more reliable than Toyotas, but Toyotas do have some problems too. Remember the massive recall about five years ago after the danger of sticking accelerator pedals.

Jim Tee says:
24 July 2010

Drivers of budget brands tend to have to justify their purchase by praising their vehicles in survey’s such as this. Drivers of premium brands potentially are busy both work-wise and socially and therefore do not necessarily have the time to feed back in a Which? kind of way. That is of course unless they have a gripe with the product, in which case they then ‘find’ the time.

This means that data such as this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt……….

Is someone more or less likely to complain about a Thompson Holiday or a night at The Grovsner on a site such as this? I think you get my point!

Ben Clark says:
24 July 2010

Hope this is ‘on topic’ for this site.
As an 81 year old I find the system whereby the Blue Disability Parking Badge has to be re-applied for (not renewed) every three years, including a ‘passport style’ photograph and a fee, a pain.
Compare this with the driving licence renewal, also every three years. The renewal form is sent (you do not have to remember that it is about to lapse) every three years, after you reach 70; a reply paid envelope is provided, and so far no new photograph has been requested.
Whilst I see the point for younger drivers; their disability may have improved to the extent that they no longer qualify, But what are the chances of a disabled 70+year old improving to that extent? I would also think that a 70 year old looks recognisably the same person even after as much as 20 years, and a fresh photo is totally unnecessary.
The irritation of the ‘how long is a piece of string’ type questions on the form are also a trial (- and the goalposts keep moving).


I’ve driven nearly every brand on the market, but the record for unreliability and totally bad service is firmly with Vauxhall (Omega)

It famously broke down with a big end failure 30 miles after a £900 engine re-build and they claimed it was NOT under the service warranty. Luckily the local company in Aylesbury went bankrupt as customers walked over the road to Ford because of the staff to customer attitude.

Most reliable ever?
Toyota and I’ve driven them across deserts, countries and continents.

Strangest car ever?
Weird and expensive engineering
but nice ride when it works (current)

Sophie Gilbert says:
28 July 2010

Land Rover as a brand remains remarkably resilient partly because it is a fashionable car, especially when doing the school run, with not a gram of mud on its shiny body work… 4x4s are all the rage at the moment and one can only hope that it is a passing fad. Edinburgh Council are thinking of introducing more expensive parking permits for these gas guzzlers. I hope they do, and that other councils will follow suit. There is no need for them in Chelsea’s equivalent anywhere.

A Landrover Defender or Discovery with a diesel engine is no more of a gas-guzzler than many other larger cars. Also, there is a tendency to forget that many drivers of Landrovers are farmers who use them for work, not just for show.

Sophie Gilbert says:
3 August 2010

Agreed, P Norrie, of course, farmers, rangers, ghillies, rescue teams, absolutely, but not townies. Edinburgh Council thinks they are a problem, otherwise it wouldn’t even have dreamed of doing a survey of what people think, which is what it did recently. And when the Council introduces its tier system and discriminates against gas-guzzlers, it isn’t just the 4X4s that are going to be targeted. The charging structure is going to be based on carbon dioxide emissions or engine size, "to help improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas pollution". This type of scheme has already been introduced by some councils in England, and Edinburgh is going to be the first here in Scotland. The hope is that car owners will think of downsizing when they change their vehicle the next time. We can but try.

Why are people so bothered about what sort of car someone buys? If someone in Chelsea wants a Range Rover then let them have it, why does it affect you? I think theres a million things to worry about in the World before what type of car someone else buys becomes important. 4×4’s often get unfair press and stick from Environmental groups. There are big German saloon cars and Estates which pollute more than some 4x4s but you can put them outside Greenpeace headquarters and they wont notice them. A town in Italy banned 4x4s a few years ago because they were allegedly too big for their streets, but they didnt ban cars over a certain width or length, they just banned 4x4s. So the Freelander is banned but the bigger, longer, wider Mercedes S-Class saloon was still allowed in. Madness.

The trouble with comments like, ‘my Land Rover has been excellent’ and ‘my Toyota has been awful’ is that they are based on a sample size of one. The Which? Car survey uses data from over 60,000 cars, making it easily the UK’s biggest car survey.

Arguably it’s also the most useful, as (unlike other surveys) we report on cars up to eight years old – which represents the vast majority of what used car buyers are looking for.

It is worth bearing ‘brand expectations’ in mind when looking at our results. It’s true that Land Rover owners will be more demanding than Citroen owners. But, broadly speaking, the expectation rises in line with the list price.

The Which? Car survey proves that reliability isn’t a given, especially if you’re forking out on a premium-priced brand.

This is not quite on topic.

The only time I bought a "best buy" washing machine – was the only time I had an unreliable washing machine.

The last cheapo fridge freezer I bought wasn’t even mentioned in Which? has proved to be the best cold storage device I’ve ever had. It is so good I’m considering buying another to go with it..

I am convinced reliability is designed into a car,and if a good basic design is spoiled by cheaper components and cost cutting measures you get an unreliable vehicle. An example of this was the Vauxhall Cavalier compared to the Vectra,a lemon that Jeremy Clarkson was quick to spot.My Cavalier has now done 198500 miles and never let me down on the road,proving it can be done,and there is no excuse for manufacturers these days to make unreliable cars.

Sandra H says:
9 August 2010

As a farmer my husband has had several Defenders and 2 Discoverys, but only for their off road abilities and towing capacities. The Discoverys basically ‘died’ at 70,000 miles, but only after we had spent far too time and money much fixing lesser problems in them. My main niggle with them was that, try as you might it was impossible to pressure wash one without getting the interior wet – very wet! He’s now given up on Land Rover altogether!

Mick – you might enjoy this, our comparison of a modern-day Vauxhall Insignia versus a 1980 Cavalier… and a reprint of the original report of the 1977 Cavalier.


Things have definitely moved on a bit since 1980!

Mark Taylor says:
13 October 2010

Down here in Australia, I have just gone from my Land Rover to a small Chevrolet (Holden) Cruze. During and after 77,000 kilometres, my Land Rover Discovery 3 has had the following repairs:
New front diff / New back diff / ZF transmission rebuilt @ AUD$10,000 / new front ball joints / 4 new air suspension compressors / new battery / new horn / new electronic park brake / new Air Conditioner servo motor / new radiator overflow tank / new tailgate door lock / short in fog light wiring / new auto dimming interior mirror / new windscreen (faulty attachment point for auto lights on device / alloy wheels corroding / worn out control arm bushes / worn tie rod ends / worn steering rack.

The D3 is the best four wheel drive I have ever driven. But it is the worst car I have ever owned. Forty years ago when I was an apprentice in the motor trade, we all thought English cars were rubbish…. it is obvious they still are in terms of quality.

I simply cannot recommend the Land Rover to anybody.

Athelstan says:
28 January 2011

Garage Myths and folks that complete Car Surveys – all very Hans Andersen.

British cars and motorbikes are rubbish – German cars are brilliantly designed engineering marvels and Japanese motorbikes dull but utterly reliable. Those statements are congested with Brobdingnagian falsehoods upon which the misguided public gorge themselves daily. They should be consigned to the eternal rubbish bin, unfortunately however they continuously regurgitate in the seedy pages & forums of the tabloid press and social networking websites like so many other snippets of so called “reality”.

I have been motoring for over 42yrs during which time I have own many British and Italian cars & motorbikes – all purchased from new and regularly serviced by trusted professionals. If I’d have believed the stories related to me by much more knowledgeable (automotive) friends and colleagues I’d have spent the majority of my high mileage life residing on the hard shoulder awaiting a recovery vehicle. I have not.

So Land Rover please continue to have the persistence to retain a firm grip on the bedrock of the Which Car Reliability Survey, for such resilience is evident every time our Land Rover completes it’s quotidian task without mishap. And I have every confidence that it will remain so.

chuck says:
12 July 2014

There is bad about everything. I own 4 rovers, oldest of which is a 92 rrc with 312k and a 98 d1 with 258k both of which look and drive as if they were only a few years old. Best older cars I’ve ever owned…my 03 has had a few niggles but nothing worse than I’ve had from a Ford or Chevy…who wants all that cheap plastic anyway. They aren’t all great but I think the majority of the bad rep is not deserved. Nothing really does what a rover does is why people still buy them. Jeeps a r e horribly cheap