Are Modern Cars Now Less Reliable Than Their Simpler Predecessor?

There is an argument to suggest that modern cars are less reliable than older models. Most of these arguments focus on how older cars were built to last, and weren’t as weighed down with extra features and overly complicated engine parts, which are claimed to break down more easily. At the same time, arguments for modern cars point to their increased safety outweighing their reliability, as well as improvements in fault findings and breakdown claims. By weighing up some of these factors, it is possible to review these debates over reliability.

1 – Technological Features

Modern cars have much more under the hood and around the dash in terms of technological features. Everything from climate regulation to power steering, parking assists and other features help to make modern cars technically sophisticated and able to make driving much less of a hands on experience. However, classic cars, by being simpler in terms of their features, tend to be more lightweight on the road, and do not require as many parts to be replaced.

2 – Cost

It is generally easier to repair classic cars than modern cars. As long as the repairer knows the model, and has the right parts to hand, than the speed and ease of garage and self repair should be increased. This is, in some ways, simply due to the more straightforward engineering of older cars. Moreover, many more people used to be able to fix minor problems for their cars, rather than taking them into the garage, and were more likely to persevere with minor problems.

3 – Reliability Outweighed by Safety

The case for modern cars over older models is primarily supported by reliability being outweighed by safety. While an older car might run longer, you would more likely want to be in a modern car if you suffer an accident on the road. Modern cars are designed more specifically to deal with accidents, and consequently have better air bag, anti crumple and warning systems in place. Not having these features means that you will probably come off worse, unless you are fortunate enough to have a heavily fortified older model.

4 – Breakdowns

Modern cars don’t tend to break down as often as older models. In terms of reliability, modern cars might be more expensive when they do break down, but are less likely to suffer the kind of recurring problems that affect older cars, particularly when set up for longer drives.

5 – Computer Fixes

On board computer systems have made it easier for garages and drivers to identify problems with a car before they become more serious. Problems with older cars tend to be identified by full checks and intuition, rather than diagnostics. In this way, a modern car is again safer, and provides more reliable information in real time than a simpler model.


So, which comes out on the top? The classic, simply but elegantly designed car that will probably last longer if maintained properly, but is vulnerable to crashes and niggling issues, or the fully kitted out modern car? Reliability ultimately comes down, or at least should do, to how secure you feel within a car on a day to day basis. In this context, modern cars have the edge in terms of having more reliable features and security for the average driver.

  • Image courtesy of Robbie Howell
  • Image courtesy of Sherlock77 (James)

Brought to you by the bloggers from Toyota Basingstoke, offering a wide range of used cars basingstoke.