Are More Expensive Cars More Reliable?

Pay more for a car, get a better, more reliable car.

It sounds sensible but is it the reality, is paying more worth it?

In this post, North West Transmissions, experts in gearboxes and transmissions, assess whether paying more for a car is worth it. Does the money buy extra reliability?

What Are You Paying More For?

A key question is what is the extra money you are spending going on?

sport car

Some of it might go on the engine, but certainly not all of it.

You might be paying for:

  • The quality of finish
  • The make, some brands have a premium price
  • The optional extras such as the stereo, the fancy paintwork, the parking camera
  • The boot space and size

Some of the money might well go on the engine, but even that doesn’t necessarily guarantee reliability, in fact the opposite could be true.

The extra expense on the engine could be for greater power, it could be for a hybrid engine instead of a standard petrol or diesel, it could even be for a whole new transmission system, one that over time ends up being less reliable than the one it replaces.

What Do Surveys Show Us?

There is no definitive list of the most reliable and unreliable cars.

Instead, we can look at more anecdotal evidence, studies of what owners say about their cars though even these come with a degree of caution. Are those who spend a large amount more likely to mark down a car for reliability if it has any flaws? If you spend £80,000 on a car, a minor fault might make you more likely to criticise the car than if you had spent £8,000.

But, when we look at the most recent list of the least reliable cars, the top spots are dominated by cars with a hefty price tag.

In fact, the whole list is. There are some cheaper and mid priced cars on there, Nissan and Peugeot for example, but there’s Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW and Audi.

In the top five, there are three Range Rovers, top spot going to the post 2013 standard Range Rover; this a car with an £80,000 price tag (and that for the entry level model).

This isn’t intended to be critical of Range Rover or any other car (it’s not our survey after all), but it is informative. The Range Rover is a car with some superb reviews, as are many on the survey, but the reports from owners also suggest they have reliability issues, What Car’s survey finding that around 30% had problems (many of these minor and fixed for free, it has to be said.)

Looking at it in reverse, what of the most reliable cars?

Here we only have to look at the Reliability Index, this impartially listing the 100 most reliable cars based from data from warranty providers.

The top spots are dominated by cheaper and mid priced cars – Toyota, Vauxhall, Hyundai feature heavily, while BMW, Jaguar and Range Rover don’t feature at all. Honda and Hyundai are both in five times, Mazda four times and Kia on three occasions. That’s 17 of the 100 for those brands alone.

How To Find A Reliable Car.

If you want a reliable car, look at the data and reviews, don’t just look at the price tag.

Paying more does not lead to greater quality, there doesn’t really appear to be much correlation at all, premium brands being far less likely to appear in lists of reliable cars than more budget friendly alternatives.

The reliability does not necessarily refer to the engine, it can be the fancy extras, some of the faults won’t keep cars off the road.

However, if you want a car that is reliable then there’s huge value in looking at Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Honda.

Not entirely coincidentally, they are engines we don’t see as regularly as some others here at North West Transmissions…


At North West Transmissions we repair gearboxes or source replacement with guaranteed refurbished units.

A family-run business, we have a truly superb reputation, this shown by our 4.9 out of 5 average rating from dozens of reviews on Google.

All reconditioned gearbxes come with guarantees for 12 months or 12,000 miles while reconditioned automatic units come with a re-manufactured torque converter that has a lifetime guarantee.

Our technicians are all highly skilled with vast experience in reconditioning and repairing all units – importantly their efficiency helps cut down the price of repairs and so too the cost.

Gearbox problems are all-too common. If you find yourself in need of a repair or reconditioned unit, that often being the more economical option in the long term, please contact us.

Call us on 0151 933 0257 or use our Contact Form.