Choice 2016 Lemon Car Reliability List

GM Holden, Ford and Audi took podium positions on the local lemon cars list, according to Choice - which is like Consumer Reports in the USA, only with anorexia. About two thirds of these vehicles have problems in the first five years - Holden worst, then Ford and Audi - and about one in seven overall of those problems were major. So, they’re numbers one, two and three in the number-twos department - if you know what I mean - which is why I have real difficulty recommending them to anyone like you, who just wants to, you know, exchange money for a car that actually works.

Breaking, Bad - percentage failures over five years, by brand

Automotive Problem Zones

Problem areas, clockwise from top - hover for additional data

Choice surveyed 1505 people who'd bought a new car between January 2011 to January 2016, and perhaps the most surprising fact is that two-thirds of all new car buyers report a problem within the first five years.

14% of consumers had major flaws in their vehicles - which left those vehicles seriously impaired or completely off the road.

The full breakdown:

  • 34 per cent of new cars were completely problem-free
  • 52 per cent of cars had minor problems
  • 9 per cent of cars had major problems
  • 5 per cent of cars had both major and minor problems
15% of owners were unable to get the vehicle fixed

See also:


Choice says the car industry’s dirty little practice of requiring confidentiality agreements from owners in exchange for repairs is reprehensible. Choice chief executive Alan Kirkland says:

Above: Choice says, “This research shows that car companies are trying to cover up the scale of problems with new cars by forcing consumers to sign nondisclosure agreements in order to get problems fixed. This practice is totally unacceptable when cars are such a significant purchase and problems may relate to vehicle safety.”

16%of owners were asked to sign confidentiality agreements in exchange for repairs/refund

Mr Kirkland also says, quote: "While some companies are doing the right thing, others are treating consumers' statutory rights as an optional extra," and I have to say I see that all the time. Especially at Ford, Holden and the Volkswagen Group.


The car industry’s grubby lobby group (the Donald Trump of lobby groups) called the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says:

Above: Car industry lobby group says, “New-car buyers in Australia are protected by some of the longest warranties in the world and competition in the market means that FCAI members have an imperative to give support.”

If you sprinkled that statement on your garden, you’d have to stand back - those plants would knock you over on the way up. Weapons-grade fertiliser there. Such arseholes - you can set your clock by that. The Federal Chamber also went on to attack the Choice research. Predictably enough. Because it would just be too hard for the industry to - random suggestion - just look after its customers.

Owners spend, on average, $1295 to fix problems that should be covered under Australian Consumer Law - over an average of 31 hours.

What is of course missing from these results are three key things:

  1. Which brands are the best and worst at resolution of the problem
  2. Which brands have the greatest number of severe problems, as a proportion 
  3. Which brands have the best and worst customer support experiences when there is a problem

Choice says the sample size of the 14 per cent of owners with major faults wasn't big enough to yield meaningful results.

One hopes this will be the subject of ongoing research - it's sorely needed in Australia.