Porsche and Bentley among worst offenders for car electrical faults

Bentley Continental GT V8 S
18 Mar, 2014 9:00am Alex Yau

Car electrical faults are on the increase as new gadget-packed models grow in complexity

New research suggests that luxury manufacturers Bentley and Porsche are among the biggest offenders for costly rises in electrical faults. The two luxury brands come in second and third behind Renault in a list of manufacturers whose cars have the least reliable electrics.

Warranty Direct analysed 50,000 insurance policies for cars over three years old in a five-year period and discovered it would cost £757 on average to repair electrical faults in a Porsche. Average repair bills in a Bentley cost a cheaper £670, but both are expensive when compared to the Suzuki’s average £244 cost.

The overall results show that the number of electrical faults rose from 5,300 in 2008 to 11,500 in 2013 - that means one in every four drivers experienced an electrical fault each year. Prices to repair these problems increased from £221 to £291 in the same period.

As for the worst offending models, two thirds of all Chrysler Sebring’s (66 per cent) experienced electrical breakdowns, while the Hyundai Matrix (63 per cent) and Mercedes-Benz E Class (60 per cent) followed closely behind. The study also found that over 25 per cent of Renault, Saab, MG, Audi, Citroen, Seat and BMW models suffered electrical failure each year.

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In contrast, just one out of seven Subarus developed an electrical fault each year, whilst there were no recorded claims with the Honda S2000, Mazda 5, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Passat CC

Basic equipment including relays and alternators still commonly fails, but modern gadgets like parking sensors are increasingly being added to that list of electrical problems. Only franchised dealers can fix them or other special equipment and that alone often bumps up the repair costs. 

David Gerrans, Warranty Direct managing director, said: “As automotive technology continues to advance, cars get more and more complex. Nowhere is that more so than in the field of computer technology and other electronics.

“But while these advances can undoubtedly improve the performance and safety of cars, they also have a knock-on effect on how often they fail and how much it costs to repair them.”

For a review of the most reliable cars on the market today, visit our sister site Carbuyer.co.uk.

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Basic cars are all fundamentally reliable nowaday, you just don't get notoriously unreliable cars like you used to (last time was VW ignition coil scandal, late 90s and the Rover K-Series HGF problem before that).

The leading edge cars with the latest tech and gadgets are the ones that logically are the most likely to suffer problems. They are all going to be nightmares when they get past 10 years old and Moores Law has obsoleted the components.

As a Mazda 5 owner I'm feeling justifiably smug. Also a little richer than those of you who bought Renaults (like a friend who's just spent £1400 fixing a corroded wiring loom on a Scenic.)

VW Recalled 2.6 million vehicles worldwide (2013) for DSG Electrical problems.

Just announced in USA, VW are recalling 160,000 Passats in USA and Canada because of an electrical Headlamp Fault.

Why would the article's title call out Porsche and Bentley if Renault was the worst offender?

Compared to a standard manual gearbox, a DSG is complex and modern tech. Proves the point. Keep it simple, basic cars are reliable.

So, are these cars unreliable? Not really, like most recalls, they are precautionary and done at next opportunity or service. The car never actually stops working.

With the aforementioned coil faults, the VW cars engines would quit and refuse to start. With the Rover HGF the coolant and oil would get together.

I'm feeling a bit irritated that my Mazda 3 engine management light is stuck on and I am heading for a big ECU replacement bill. My wife's Clio has been faultless for 10 years.

What I am pointing out is, that one off anecdotes are completely irrelevant.

Thousands of VW's around the world with DSG would just stop while driving at highway speeds. VW resisted doing anything in many countries until they were embarrassed to, they are still working through the 250,000 cars needing rectification because of electrical problems...I call this unreliable...and they stopped working..search if you don't believe me.

In nearly 20 years of ownership, my 42 year old Rover has never, ever suffered an electrical fault (not counting a handful of bulbs).

Yes, we know this . But you are not keeping up with the point. A DSG compared to a simple manual gearbox is an example of later tech being unreliable compared to basic tech. Which is the original point. DSG is an example of VW trying to engineer an innovation and it causing problems.

Standard manual gearboxes with normal sprung clutch plates are generally reliable. Direct Shift with electronic dual clutch are not. Do you understand yet?

A possibility of a headlight failure that can be mitigated at the next service does not take thousands of cars off the road.

Toyota and Honda are recalling tens of millions of cars a year for recalls, they are worse than any maker.

Their problems are minor compared to VAG,who won't even admit there is a problem unless they're pushed by legal or government intervention.