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Breakdown statistics 2021: The strike of the starter batteries

Corona led to fewer breakdowns by the ADAC in 2020. However, the failure rate of batteries is even higher than usual. Plus: The most reliable cars in the ADAC breakdown index.

  • 109 vehicle series in the ADAC breakdown index

  • Fewer breakdowns, but more battery failures

  • Extra evaluation: The breakdowns of the electric cars

The year 2020 has not been influenced as strongly by anything as by the corona pandemic: So few contacts and so on little mobility as possible was the only possible motto. So it's no wonder that the restrictions are reflected in the ADAC statistics on car breakdowns.

3.4 million breakdowns, the main cause being the starter battery

In 2020, the road patrol drivers and mobility partners of the ADAC were involved in comparatively few, namely "only" 3.386 million breakdowns - one Decrease of almost 10 percent compared to 2019. The lower number of operations roughly corresponds to the Corona-related lower traffic volume. The first lockdown in spring 2020 caused the volume of traffic on German autobahns to briefly decrease by almost 50 percent.

Despite the constant alternation between lockdown and loosening, the usual constant remains: the battery is the most common cause of breakdowns. And with 46.3 percent of all breakdowns, the value was even higher than the previous year of 41.8 percent. Reason for the increase: In cars that not moved for weeks the batteries lose their voltage and the cars no longer start. The best proof: The unusually high peak in battery failures in April 2020, i.e. directly after the hard lockdown.

You can find out here how often the ADAC had to move out to deal with injuries in 2020

The breakdown statistics 2021 in the video

ADAC reliability index for 109 model series

A total of 109 vehicle series from 25 car brands were evaluated in the breakdown statistics for 2021. All breakdowns in the course of 2020, the vehicles aged from 3 to 10 years (First registration 2011 to 2018) and those in at least one of the registration years at least 10,000 times were sold and registered. Models with fewer approvals are generally not evaluated. In addition, self-inflicted breakdowns (example: empty tank) and tire defects are not taken into account in the ADAC reliability index.

In the breakdown statistics table you will find all the rated model series, sorted alphabetically and divided into vehicle classes. Note: If you click on one of the Shift arrows at the head of the table click, you will be shown the next vehicle class. The assessment of the breakdown frequency follows the color scheme dark green (= very low) to red (= very high).

The Color scheme offers good and quick orientation for used car buyers. The following applies: Cars with model years in a green rating are less likely to be a source of error, whereas in cars with model years in a red rating, increased caution is advisable.

The ratings are basically as Orientation aid to understand, but no more than that. Because a vehicle can also deviate from the statistical evaluation - both positively and negatively. So anyone who has found a suitable offer on the used car market after pre-selecting should have a professional used car check carried out regardless of the statistical evaluation. This helps to avoid expensive repairs afterwards.

Overview: tops & flops of breakdown statistics

40 of the 109 model series proved to be quite reliable in the breakdown year 2020 and are therefore marked in dark green and green. But that also means the other way round. At around half of vehicles on German roads, there is a mixed picture with ups and downs in terms of the reliability of our cars. And 16 vehicle models do particularly badly (orange and red). The tops & flops can be found here separately against each other. First the tops appear, then the flops of a vehicle class further down. Here, too, when you click on the Shift arrows at the head of the table the next vehicle class is displayed.

The 10-year-old Kia Ceed has the most breakdowns

The inglorious first place in terms of unreliability is occupied by a lower middle-class car: the 10-year-old Kia Ceed with a breakdown rate of 52.7 per mille. Only the most recent years of construction of the Korean are almost free of breakdowns. Over all years of construction, the most common defects - in addition to the starter battery - concerned the starter, the fuel pump, the timing chain and the spark plugs.

A similarly graduated picture of failures can be seen in Hyundai i20. In addition to the spark plugs, defective ignition locks were also repeatedly responsible for breakdowns. At the Seat Alhambra and VW Sharan The breakdowns occurred with above-average frequency in practically all years of construction: the main causes were exhaust gas recirculation or AdBlue injection.

He looked terrifyingly bad Smart Forfour which has been sold since 2015. In all years, the battery ran out of power extremely often. He was also very abusive Opel Insignia, the Nissan Qashqai, the Ford S-Max as Renault Kangoo and Renault Rapid - the latter two especially at a young age. The Renaults often had a problem with the vehicle electrics.

Absolutely top: models from Audi, BMW and Toyota

The models that did their job exceptionally well in 2020 include a striking number of vehicles from the brands Audi and BMW. A3, A4, A5, Q3 and Q5 are the reliability winners at Audi. If there are failures, the breakdown statistics often record the ignition cable in the older A1, and the injection nozzles in the Q5. At BMW, the 1, 2, 3, 4, X1, X3 and Mini were as good as nothing to blame.

Just behind, with a little more glitches, they rank Mercedes models A, CLA, GLA as well as C-Class, GLC and GLK. In the vehicles, an ignition lock or a starter was always defective.

Surprise candidates in a positive sense are the Fiat Punto and the Dacia Sandero. With the Punto it is very astonishing that even very old specimens (born between 2011 and 2013) had few breakdowns. And the Dacia Sandero proves that particularly inexpensive cars do not necessarily have to be abandoned.

The small car trio belong to the large number of relatively inconspicuous models Seat Ibiza, Škoda Fabia, VW Polo. Also the bestseller VW Golf In comparison with the competitors Ford Focus and Opel Astra, there is hardly any breakdown in appearance. Whereby the Opel Astra not only weakens - like the Focus - in older age, but also in younger years of construction. The main reason for the Astra: the battery.

Special evaluation: The breakdowns of electric cars

More and more questions are asked about the causes of breakdowns in electric cars. That is why the ADAC created a special evaluation. Result: are here too discharged and defective 12-volt on-board batteries are clearly the main culprit. With a share of 54 percent, the figure for electric cars is around eight percent higher than for vehicles with a conventional petrol or diesel drive.

The explanation: In order to put an electric car into operation, as with any car, an on-board battery is required. It ensures that the doors open and that the high-voltage power supply is activated. Because the on-board electrics, the lights or the infotainment system work, in contrast to the electric drive, with a voltage of 12 volts.

The large battery in the underbody, on the other hand, supplies electricity at a voltage level of mostly 400 volts, some cars such as the Porsche Taycan even work with 800 volts. However, if the small 12-volt battery for the on-board electrical system fails, the doors remain closed - and the charged high-voltage system cannot be activated either.

Defects of specific components of an electric car such as the battery, electric motor or charging technology have so far proven to be reliable and only contribute 4.4 percent to the breakdowns. However, because electric cars on our roads are on average much younger than conventional vehicles, it is to be expected that wear and age-related breakdowns of electric cars will increase in the next few years.

ADAC tips against battery and tire problems

Even if the analysis of the ADAC breakdown statistics as a service is primarily aimed at used car buyers, the vehicle manufacturers remain responsible: Many of the problems identified are already inherent in the vehicle. Because although the reliability of the cars has improved over the years, there are still weak points that could easily be avoided at the factory. Nevertheless, the vehicle owner can influence some breakdown factors.

  • Battery problems: On average, batteries last five to six years. However, many young vehicles with empty or defective batteries are left behind. The reasons for this are often a high level of exposure to many electrical consumers. If you have a socket next to your car park at home, you can occasionally charge the battery. A timely replacement or a battery check also help to prevent this cause of the breakdown. If you are planning longer journeys, you should also consciously take the "short-haul car" to fully charge the battery. But: The manufacturers are also asked to do that Battery management to improve new vehicles and technically prevent the battery from discharging.

  • Tire defects: Even if the vehicle manufacturer is not usually responsible for this, malfunctions or incorrectly interpreted warnings from the tire pressure monitoring systems can be a problem. The trend towards breakdown kits instead of spare tires or spare tires further restricts the ability to continue driving independently after a flat tire. As a motorist, you can reduce the likelihood of a breakdown by reducing the tire pressure at least all two weeks checked and regularly Visual inspections with regard to wear or cracks.

Battery Care Articles:

Empty car battery? This is how you avoid a breakdown
Charge the car battery - this is how it works

Tips for buying a used car

Even if a model is listed as reliable in the ADAC breakdown statistics, individual examples of a model series can still be very different in terms of reliability. Because: the older the vehicle, the bigger it isInfluence of the holder on susceptibility to breakdowns.

Therefore, when buying an older vehicle, the following applies in general:

  • Take the carcritical under the microscope.

  • Find out beforehand in the ADAC car database (also available as an app for Android and Apple). Here you will find all the information about the car of your choice and also learn about the typical malfunctions and the most common causes of breakdowns per model and year.

  • Leave the vehiclecheck by a specialist. This can be the workshop you trust or the ADAC used vehicle inspection at an ADAC test center near you.

  • Let everyoneMaintenance records or show receipts for repairs carried out.

  • Keep all the information promised by the seller incontractfirmly.

And here you will find everything about used cars

Breakdown statistics archive, methodology & background

Basics of the evaluations

The ADAC road patrol drivers record every breakdown assistance electronically and store it in a database. Among other things, Type, registration year, type of engine, mileage, the defective component and the cause of the error. This data also helps in the event of future breakdowns to find the causes and remedy them more quickly. The body shape and type of drive (e.g. station wagon or coupé, front or all-wheel drive) are not decisive for the cause of the breakdown and are therefore not recorded. Different types that are based on a common technology are grouped together (e.g. VW Golf / Jetta).

The ADAC breakdown statistics were published until 2013 for vehicle models from the first six registration years. As a result, the driver's influence (e.g. care and maintenance) on the technical condition of the vehicle should be hidden as far as possible. Defects found were usually the fault of the manufacturer. The media pressure exerted on manufacturers to improve their products has led to a positive trend in capital breakdowns since breakdown statistics began. The number of breakdowns has fallen from over 23 (1978) to less than three (2013) per 1,000 vehicles.

Due to the low number of breakdowns in the first two years of operation and the lower financial risk for drivers due to the longer warranty periods, differentiation in the first years of operation is now less useful. The breakdown indicators often only differ in the second or third decimal place.

For this reason, and because vehicles in Germany are getting older on average, since the breakdown statistics in 2014, the focus has been on registration years three to ten. It is true that the influence of the corresponding vehicle care and maintenance increases. On the other hand, it does not make the decisive difference for a used car buyer why a possible breakdown occurs - the information about typical and possible weak points in a model is important. And here the breakdown statistics provide valuable information.

In addition, this also increases the number of breakdown cases taken into account in the statistics; the influence of assistance cases decreases, the possibility of differentiating between the models and registration years increases.

A ranking list is not created. In order to continue to ensure a quick overview of good and less good vehicle models, the breakdown indicators are highlighted in color for each year, from green = very few breakdowns to red = very many breakdowns.

Basically, the following applies: Cases in which the ADAC was called because a vehicle, e.g. B. could still drive to the workshop in emergency mode, do not appear in the statistics.

Steps in generating the final database for the breakdown statistics:

1. In addition to around 1,750 ADAC road patrol drivers, around 1,000 road service partners also provide breakdown assistance on behalf of the club. The latter do not keep detailed records and therefore cannot contribute any data to the statistics.

2. Every manufacturer or importer offers its own "assistance" services, some of which are provided by ADAC on behalf of the company. In order to avoid biasing the statistics and creating a tie, the assistance cases must be disregarded.

3. Self-inflicted breakdowns (e.g. due to lack of fuel) or tire defects are not included.

4. The breakdown statistics only include models from the third to tenth year of registration.

5. The models must have at least 10,000 approvals in one year and 7,000 in at least another year (for EZ 1 to 10 years ago). A representative database is determined from the total number of reported breakdowns.

Third party certification and testing

The ADAC test center, in which the breakdown statistics are calculated, is certified according to the quality management standard ISO 9001: 2015. A corresponding audit is carried out every three years by the internationally recognized certification body DQS. Every year in between there is a re-certification and an internal audit, in which the processes for calculating the breakdown statistics are also checked.

In addition, the calculation method was checked by a scientific report by professors from the Universities of Twente and Groningen and the procedure and the results were described as valid.

How is it determined which field gets which color?
The colors only serve as an aid to record the results more quickly and are determined according to the year of first registration (columns!). The lowest 15 percent always get a dark green color, the worst five percent a red color. In between, the three colors light green, yellow and orange are distributed in such a way that the distances are the same.

Why are not all fields filled?
Values ​​are only displayed if at least 7,000 vehicles were registered at the beginning of the year examined. This prevents statistical outliers from distorting the picture.

Why is the "xy" model missing?
Only models are displayed that contain more than 10,000 registered vehicles in at least one of the reported years.

What breakdowns are included?
Only technical breakdowns that were dealt with by the ADAC. That is around 50 percent of all breakdowns that occur in Germany. The real breakdown probabilities are therefore higher. In order to compare the breakdown susceptibility of models, the ADAC database is completely sufficient and at the same time the largest of its kind.

Why are the data for the first two years of first registration not displayed?
The probability of a breakdown in the first two years after a vehicle has been registered is so low that the values ​​that the ADAC could calculate here are not meaningful and reliable enough. Therefore these figures are not published.

How is the average annual mileage calculated?
The average annual mileage is calculated as the mean value of all vehicles included in the breakdown statistics. The ADAC records the mileage of the vehicle for every breakdown. As a rule, young vehicles are moved a little more because they are then often used for business purposes.

Why were older models up to ten years old?
With this expansion, the ADAC also offers used car buyers who are interested in an older model a basis for making decisions about breakdown safety. The average age of a passenger car in Germany is around 9.8 years, which is also taken into account.

Data analysis and technical advice: Jan Schreier, ADAC Technik Zentrum

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