RAC Cars News


The most common car problems and who gets them

By raccars Published


Keep an eye out for these most common car problems when buying a used vehicle.

Unexpected and hefty repairs bills are one of the greatest fears of used car buyers. The fact is that more than three quarters of used car buyers will face a repair of some kind within the first three years of ownership. However, there are some car problems which appear more commonly than others, particularly on certain models. Warranty data can be a very useful tool to identify the likelihood of certain faults, and if you are still unsure you can of course purchase an aftermarket warranty for extra peace of mind.

The most commonly experienced car problems facing used buyers


Transmission problems are encountered by nearly 10 per cent of all used car buyers. Over the past year, the Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf and the BMW 3 Series were the cars most likely to suffer problems with the gearbox.

Electrical faults

While modern cars are full of useful gadgets, comfort and convenience features, by the same token the car has to contain more electronic circuitry to operate these functions. The more electronic wizardry a car contains, the more of it there is to go wrong. Faults with the electrics are the second most commonly reported fault, accounting for more than eight per cent of warranty claims, with the BMW 3 Series, the Vauxhall Corsa and the Audi A3 the most likely culprits.


Your clutch handles a great deal of wear and tear on a daily basis and is the third most common reason for car owners to make a warranty claim. The Vauxhall Astra, the Ford Focus and the VW Golf are the cars most likely to present you with a slipping or burned out clutch.


The turbo is often a very small unit but it can cost a lot of money to repair. 4.7 per cent of warranty claims relate to faulty turbochargers, most particularly the Ford Focus, the VW Golf and the BMW 3 Series.


Your car isn't a lot of use without a set of brakes to keep it under control but brakes tie with turbochargers by making up 4.7 per cent of warranty claims. The Volkswagen Passat, the Land Rover Discovery and the BMW 3 Series are the cars most likely to experience problems with brakes.


4.3 per cent of warranty claims relate to problems with alternators. This is one claim that should diminish as electric and hybrid cars increase their market share, as they don't require an alternator. The Vauxhall Astra, Land Rover Discovery and the Ford Focus are the most common culprits for alternator faults.

Cylinder head gasket

Gasket repairs can also result in a hefty bill and make up 3.1 per cent of all warranty claims. Keep an eye out for white smoke coming from your exhaust or a coolant leak as these can indicate a failed cylinder head gasket. The Vauxhall Corsa, Citroen C3 and Peugeot 207 regularly succumb to head gasket issues.

Air conditioning condenser

A modern essential, air conditioning condenser units - like head gaskets - account for 3.1 per cent of warranty claims. Check the air con thoroughly on the VW Golf, Vauxhall Zafira and the Audi A4 for this common problem.

EGR valve

You've probably already heard enough about the 'dieselgate' emissions scandal, which had exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves at its root. EGR valves are involved in 2.9 per cent of claims, above all on the Land Rover Discovery and Discovery Sport, the Vauxhall Astra and the VW Transporter.

Electric windows

You may wish for the return of a good old-fashioned handle if you are one of the 2.2 per cent of warranty claimants reporting a fault with your electric window motor or regulator. The Renaults Megane and Scenic and the Audi A5 were the top culprits.

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