Most reliable automatic cars

Find a self-shifting gearbox that you can rely on: these are the most reliable automatic car manufacturers

John Evans
Sep 30, 2018
Qashqai Auto

Automatic cars are all the rage with sales of new models up 70% since 2007. In fact, last year (2017) 40% of new cars sold had no third pedal. As a result of our growing appetite for automatics, almost 8.5 million are now slurring their way around UK roads.

Their advantages are clear: automatics are easier and more relaxing to drive than manual cars, they pick up speed from junctions and traffic lights faster, they encourage a less competitive driving style, they’re more easily paired with fuel-saving technologies and autonomous technologies and the latest are actually a touch more economical.

On the downside, they’re more complex than manuals, cost more to buy new and used, don't work very well with small engines and some types, such as CVTs with their infinite gear ratio, are actually quite unpleasant to drive.

Another problem is their poorer reliability. Being more complex than a manual gearbox, automatics can be more troublesome. For example, earlier generations of Volkswagen’s DSG automatic gearbox have a reputation for serious and expensive problems.

To help navigate the occasionally treacherous world of used automatics, we asked Warranty Direct, a used car warranty provider, to reveal its top 10 most reliable and bottom five least reliable automatics by manufacturer.

The top 10 makers hold few surprises with Japanese manufacturers Lexus, Suzuki, Honda, Mazda and Toyota dominating. Certain Skoda models use VW’s DSG system, so that’s a tick for this gearbox. What is a surprise is the presence of Aston Martin and Maserati, although the tendency of their owners to have them serviced on the dot regardless of cost, might explain this.

The other end of the reliability table is dominated by European makers. An exception is Chevrolet but because its cars are no longer sold in the UK, we’ve added Citroen in sixth place.

Top 10 most reliable used automatics by manufacturer

Manufacturer % of policies with a fault claim

  • 1. Lexus 0.14
  • 2. Aston Martin 0.26
  • 3. Smart 0.33
  • 4. Suzuki 0.47
  • 5. Honda 0.50
  • 6. Mazda 0.51
  • 7. Toyota 0.53
  • 8. Porsche 0.71
  • 9. Skoda 0.81
  • 10. Maserati 0.81


Least reliable used automatics by manufacturer

Manufacturer % of policies with a fault claim

  • Renault 4.28
  • Fiat 4.20
  • MG 3.87
  • Chevrolet 3.30
  • Ford 3.14

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