Car troubles can be the bane of our lives, causing us a lot of hassle and lost time, and the internet is often the first place we turn to for help.
Google data reveals that we’re making hundreds of thousands of searches each year when we encounter problems with our car; we’re looking for help online for what to do when warning lights come on, or finding information on how and where to repair our car, and Google is often our first port of call for help when our car breaks down.
We lifted the bonnet on Google’s search data to find out if there were any particular manufacturers or car models that were cropping up more often than others when it came to people looking for car trouble assistance.
By looking at which car makes and models are being Googled the most in relation to breakdowns, faults and general problems (and cross-referencing that with how many of those cars have been sold) we’ve created a ‘Crap Car Comparison’ index, revealing which cars are the least reliable, at least according to how many times people are turning to Google for help on fixing them.
As well as looking at the world’s most troublesome car models, we looked at the car brands specific countries were Googling the most, including the UK, when they were having car problems.(We should say here of course that if you find yourself constantly Googling how to fix your car that’s always breaking down, then it could be worth finding out how much you can get to scrap your car).
The Crap Car Comparison Index
The World’s Least Reliable Car Manufacturers
|Rank||Manufacturer||Yearly Search Volume for Faults (accumulated from all models)||Cars Sold Per Year (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
*The world’s most troublesome car manufacturer according to our study was Mazda. However, as the only available Mazda sales data didn’t include sales made in Japan, the home of Mazda, the score may be lower.
The next car manufacturer that has thousands of searches made in Google relating to their car breaking down or having problems is Vauxhall/Opel. Sister brands between England and Germany, Vauxhall is responsible for some instantly recognisable models such as the Corsa, but does have an unfortunate name for breakdown issues which are no doubt the reason the griffin badge is so high up the list.
Completing the podium of cars problems is Swedish manufacturer Volvo. Whilst the everyday person’s view of a Volvo is typically one of functionality and reliability, it’s in fact one of the cars that’s getting the most Google searches (in relation to number sold) in regards to performance problems and is backed up by some poor reviews for particular models.
Ford takes fourth place for the un-coveted spot of car manufacturers that’s causing a high number of owners to Google problems they’re having with it. This matches up with what we see year-in-year-out at scrap yards, with our records showing Fords (particularly the Ford Focus) being the most scrapped car in the UK every year since 2017.
High-end brands BMW and Land Rover also finish close to the summit, surprising as people like to think the more expensive a car is the more reliable it is, but both of these manufacturers have tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands in BMW’s case) of instances of owners Googling problems related to their BMW or Land Rover in the last year.
Tesla makes an appearance in the top ten too, as owners get to grips with how to identify and fix the problems brought about by new automotive technology.
The UK’s Least Reliable Car Manufacturers
|Rank||Manufacturer||UK Yearly Search Volume for Faults (accumulated from all models)||Cars Sold Per Year (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
The UK’s Least Reliable Car Models
|Rank||Model||UK Yearly Search Volume for Faults||Cars Sold All Time (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
|1||BMW 1 Series||30,910||2,225,194||13.89|
In the UK, the global runner up Vauxhall proved to be the badge causing the most headaches for drivers, with over 56,000 Google searches from owners looking for advice on a Vauxhall fault or breakdown. This is only highlighted when looking deeper into the particular models our Google data revealed to be on the wrong side of reliable. The Insignia, Mokka, Zafira and Meriva all featured as cars receiving regular fault-related search queries.
The Vauxhall Insignia was found to be more reliable than a highly popular sports hatchback: the BMW 1 Series. Ranking as the least reliable car in the UK, it’s not something the German manufacturer will be bragging about, but after weighing up the 30 thousand plus searches against 1 Series sales numbers, the data doesn’t lie! Another luxury German manufacturer, Audi also featured twice, with the TT and A3 found to be lacking in the reliability stakes.
The USA’s Least Reliable Car Manufacturers
|Rank||Manufacturer||USA Yearly Search Volume for Faults (accumulated from all models)||Cars Sold Per Year (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
The USA’s Least Reliable Car Models
|Rank||Model||USA Yearly Search Volume for Faults||Cars Sold All Time (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
Specifically, the Nissan Rogue and Nissan Titan are causing owners to constantly Google what’s wrong with them, as is the Mazda CX-9. While the sporty Kia Stinger takes the unfortunate crown of being the least reliable car in the states, with relatively low sales figures suffering against comparatively high search volumes for breakdown related searches!
Whilst Ford comes out as the worst car manufacturer (according to Google search data), none of its specific models actually make the top 15 least reliable car models in the USA. The reason then that Ford comes out so high is because it has so many models lower down the model rankings, for example the Ford Edge, Escape, Expedition, Explorer, Focus, Transit and EcoSport all feature between 20-50 for worst models, and their combined Google searches put Ford in the top spot as least reliable manufacturer.
Canada’s Least Reliable Car Manufacturers
|Rank||Manufacturer||CA Yearly Search Volume for Faults (accumulated from all models)||Cars Sold Per Year (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
In addition to looking at the least reliable cars here in the UK and in the States, we also looked at searches in some other car-loving countries. First, we’ve crossed the US border to Canada and Mazda again pops up at the top. As Japanese sales data for Mazda was unavailable, the brand may well be more reliable than it appears according to Google, however once again Nissan and Ford also rank highly, with thousands of searches from breakdown-ridden owners being logged each year. With Canada’s harsh winter conditions in mind, it seems the best bet may be to opt for the likes of a hardy Toyota or Chrysler, which see much less searches vs. cars sold.
Australia’s Least Reliable Car Manufacturers
|Rank||Manufacturer||AUS Yearly Search Volume for Faults (accumulated from all models)||Cars Sold Per Year (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
In Australia, the trend is similar, with BMWs and Fords ranking highly, while other popular brands in Australia, such as Subaru and Kia also make the top 10. Notably, Volkswagen which is one of the most popular manufactures sold down under ranked outside of the top 15, highlighting the brand’s reliability, with few owners needing to head to Google to remedy an issue!
South Africa’s Least Reliable Car Manufacturers
|Rank||Manufacturer||SA Yearly Search Volume for Faults (accumulated from all models)||Cars Sold Per Year (Approx.)||Score (Higher score = Less reliable)|
Finally, we looked at South Africa and again, Ford ranks as the second least reliable manufacturer. Bad news for owners of one of South Africa’s most popular cars, the Ford Ranger. Vauxhall’s sister brand and German manufacturer Opel also makes the top 5, while another German automotive brand, BMW tops the list. One sure to put a smile on the faces of Mercedes Benz owners, as they fall outside of the top ten in 11th.
Be it a BMW or a seemingly more trusty VW, if you’ve had to search to identify an issue with your car more often than you feel you should, maybe it is time to look into scrapping your car? You can get started here!
· Using Google Keyword Planner we found the search volumes for keywords relating to car trouble (I.e. [car model + warning light], [car model + problem], [car model + breakdown], [car model + repair] and [car model + fault] for all of the major car brands’ specific models made in the last 12 months. Close to 500 different car models were included in the research
· These volumes were then cross-referenced with the number of cars sold to create a fair comparison (i.e. Fords have more Google searches, but they sell more cars, so the ranking is based on a ratio of searches to sales). The resulting index ‘score’ calculated by dividing the search volume by the number of cars sold. This was then multiplied by 1,000
· For the Models comparison, the sales data includes the all-time sales of that particular model (i.e. To ensure that all iterations of a Ford Fiesta, for example, are accounted for)
· For the Manufacturer comparison, the search volumes of each brand model were combined to find the Manufacturer search total, and the sales data was taken from the most recent year of publicly available records detailing the total number of sales across all models
· Sales data sources include brand specific press releases, in addition to carsalesbase.com and goodcarbadcar.net
· Data correct as of May 2021