What’s your priority when it comes to buying a car? Good to drive, hugely practical, cheap to run? But where does reliability factor into your car buying decision?
A few years ago, reliability wasn’t particularly high on my requirements when it came to purchasing a new car. And this might explain a few things about my car history.
This includes two Alfa Romeos, with the latter being a diesel GT Coupe that I owned when I started at Which? in 2010. On my first day I was asked the most important question by the team: ‘what do you drive then?’ And even though I failed to tell them that my car had broken down on the way into the office on that very day (it went into ‘limp home’ mode on the A1 due to a faulty lambda sensor), the team still met the Alfa Romeo GT revelation with grimaces and ‘oohs’.
This is because the team had their own crystal ball for predicting the pain I had in store and the almost inevitable expenditure I was about to endure through owning an Alfa Romeo. And this crystal ball was, and still is, the Which? Car Survey.
My unreliable Alfa Romeo
Being a car nut for numerous years, I was fully aware of the stigma Alfa carried. However, I assumed it could only be horror stories of an affected minority, who’d bought bad cars that had slipped through the production line. But the depth of feedback provided through the survey meant the Which? Cars team was well informed to tell me that I had a high chance of facing a future of reliability woes.
And they weren’t wrong. In fact, when a minor service interval rang in at over £1,200 some four months into my Which? career, I decided it was time to part with the GT. In the year I’d owned it, I could have counted on two hands the number of days it ran without a warning light appearing on the dashboard.
It came as no surprise that my replacement car had a glowing reliability track record in the survey. I’d turned my head towards reliability and away from striking looks, outright performance and the colour of the leather interior. And my new car didn’t disappoint in a year and a half of ownership, costing me no more than £300 in servicing and minor repairs.
Which? Car Survey 2013
That’s the real value of having feedback from thousands of car owners. Any car journalist can tell you how good a car is to drive, how efficient it will be and how much shopping you can fit in the boot. But none can tell you how reliable a car will be like the 39,292 thousand car owners who responded to last year’s survey.
So, not only would I like you to fill out the Which? Car Survey (you’ll be entered into a draw to win a year of free fuel), I want to hear how important car reliability is to you. Does it top your car buying concerns or are you more interested in looks, price and mph?