Which? is calling for seven models from well-known car brands including Nissan, BMW, Tesla and Land Rover to be recalled as it exposes faults faced by such a high proportion of drivers that it indicates serious production issues.
In a survey of almost 50,000 car owners, Which? heard that seven of Britain’s most popular cars each had a single, prolific problem that was common among their owners, from faulty batteries to flawed fuel systems resulting in widespread breakdowns.
To make matters worse, three of these models – the Nissan Qashqai (2014 to present), Tesla Model S (2013 to present) and BMW 5 Series Touring (2010 to 2017) – were found to have exactly the same problems as when Which? conducted the survey last year. Yet none of these manufacturers has recalled the cars.
Which? found that three of the seven cars that owners reported as having a single prolific fault are from Nissan; the Qashqai, Pulsar and Juke all being repeatedly reported as having a common fault.
The Nissan Qashqai is a UK best-seller but Which? found that it was the car with the highest breakdown rate for cars that were less than three years old, with as many as one in five (21%) owners of cars that were less than three years old saying they had needed to replace the battery in the 12 months prior to Which?’s survey – leaving most unable to start their car.
The less popular Pulsar was also exposed as having a significant battery issue, reported by three in 10 (28%) of car owners with a vehicle aged between three and eight years old. Based on the Which? survey, its battery problems are five times more likely to occur than an average vehicle of this age. Those surveyed said the car failed to start in virtually every case.
With the Nissan Juke, one in five owners (20%) of vehicles between three and eight-years-old that run on diesel reported a problem with the fuel component system. In half of cases, owners reported the car breaking down, failing to start or told Which? they had found the car was unsafe to drive.
At well over £50,000 even a second-hand Tesla Model S costs a lot more than the average vehicle. However, one in five (18%) owners of cars between three and eight years old reported faults with its pop-out door handles (or locks).
When it came to Land Rover, Which? found that five of the seven models included in the survey had problems with the on-board computer software.
Typically, this issue affected one in 20 (5%) drivers overall. But the Range Rover Velar (21%) and Range Rover Sport (17%) had around one in five owners reporting the problem.
Which? believes the issue may lie with the brand’s ‘Touch Pro Duo’ – the dual 10-inch infotainment touchscreens in the centre console – which the Velar first introduced and the Range Rover Sport adopted in 2018. This would explain why only younger versions of the Sport suffer the problem to this extent.
Of the 280 car models Which? has reliability data for, three to eight-year-old BMW 5 Series Touring cars (2010 to 2017) have the second-highest fault rate linked to one single problem with a quarter of owners (26%) reporting issues with their suspension.
Five times as many owners of this vehicle reported problems with their suspension component than is normal for other cars the same age.
Since Which? shared its results, Nissan said it had taken steps to address the issue including replacing its battery supplier. It also contacted 35,000 potentially affected Qashqai owners about getting a free update for their vehicle.
But none of the manufacturers has gone as far as issuing a recall, while some have tried to deny there is any issue at all. Which? believes the problems uncovered in its survey show that these faults are so widespread that they indicate a weakness in the manufacturing process that should be addressed immediately.
Indeed, the consumer watchdog is calling on the manufacturers to issue a recall on the affected models – to alert drivers that their car could have a significant fault. This approach would also ensure a pre-emptive fix is made available for free, whether the car is under warranty or not.
Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, said:
“It is completely unacceptable that these trusted car brands continue to take customer cash without fixing these widespread faults – many of which are already well-known thanks to our comprehensive survey of UK motorists.
“Currently, car owners will have to foot the bill for faults once their car goes out of warranty, but it is not right for anyone to have to pay for production mistakes that these manufacturers are aware of.
“If you are concerned your car might be unreliable, make sure you’re with a breakdown service you can trust and the next time you’re in the market for a new car, consider steering clear of these unreliable models.”
Which? also has a reliability tool that consumers can use https://www.which.co.uk/
Which? survey found:
The fault: Nissan Qashqai (2014 to present) batteries in 0-3-year-old cars
21.1% Nissan Qashqai fault rate
4.91% Average fault rate in all 0-3-year-old cars in our survey
The fault: Nissan Pulsar (2014-18) batteries in 3-8-year-old cars
28.13% Nissan Pulsar fault rate
5.32% Average fault rate in all 3-8-year-old cars in our survey
The fault: Nissan Juke (2010-2019) fuel component system in 3-8-year-old diesel cars
20% Nissan Juke fault rate
3.45% Average fault rate in all 3-8-year-old diesel cars in our survey
The fault: Tesla Model S (2013 to present) exterior door handles/locks (including boot door and locks) on 3-8-year old cars
18.46% Tesla Model S fault rate
1.66% Average fault rate for all 3-8-year-old cars in our survey
Land Rover Range Rover Velar (2017 to present) and Range Rover Sport (2013 to present)
The fault: On-board computer software in 0-3-year-old cars
21.21 Velar fault rate
17.07% Range Rover Sport fault rate
5.36% Average fault rate for all 0-3-year-old cars in our survey
BMW 5 Series Touring (2010 to 2017)
The fault: Suspension components in 3-8 year-old cars
26.04% BMW 5 Series Touring fault rate
5.21% Average fault rate for all 3-8-year cars in our survey
Right of replies
“We are aware of some incidences of battery failure on older Nissan models and have taken steps to address this issue, including replacing our battery supplier. Nissan is also in the process of contacting 35,000 potentially affected customers who own a Nissan Qashqai produced between April 2018 & February 2019, for a free of charge update to their vehicle, and we are working closely with customers to resolve any concerns. Currently 80% of these vehicles have had the update applied.
“Nissan is committed to the highest standards of quality and reliability in its vehicles and is continuing to work with any affected customers to resolve their concerns.”
When we contacted Tesla, it resupplied the same comment as last year.
“We review every vehicle […] before it leaves the factory. Our warranties cover any repairs and replacements necessary for door handles for up to four years, and […] Tesla can perform repair work via mobile service, which can be done at a customer’s home or office.’
Which? also asked about cars after the four-year warranty and whether customers could avoid paying for the repair. Tesla responded:
“The price outside of warranty is £250-£270, including parts, labour and tax.”
Land Rover response
“Land Rover takes product quality seriously, listening to customers and continuously striving to improve. To this end, Land Rover is introducing software over the air to its new products, allowing remote updates.
“Having analysed Which?’s research, Land Rover understands that 0.12% of Range Rover Velar and 0.22% of Range Rover sport customers have been surveyed. We don’t believe this is representative of the vast majority of satisfied customers.”
“BMW has conducted additional analysis of all warranty claims from launch to present day and this analysis confirms nothing unusual about suspension claims across the 33,000 vehicles sold.
“We encourage any dissatisfied Which? reader, whether they participated in this survey or not, to contact BMW UK on 0370 505 0160, making reference to Which?, so that we can investigate their concerns.”