The electric Nissan Leaf is the most reliable car in New Zealand according to Consumer New Zealand's latest survey.

More than 10,300 vehicles were surveyed to gauge their reliability according to their owners, and 23 brands and 69 models were analysed.

Consumer NZ asked car owners about serious, major and minor faults with their cars in the past 12 months.

Leaf owners reported no serious faults, which are those that could cause a break down.


Consumer head of testing Paul Smith said the Leaf's performance was perhaps no surprise, given it has no combustion engine or gearbox, the two most complicated and problematic parts of a car.

"Just four per cent of Leafs in our survey had a major reliability problem that caused significant repair costs or time off the road.

"The majority of Leaf owners, 97 per cent, were very satisfied with this electric car."

Uber driver Mathew Dearnaley has been driving a Leaf since July last year and said he wasn't surprised to hear the car had come out on top.

"It's a dream, it's magic," he said.

"There's absolutely minimum maintenance. I bought it with 12,000km on the clock in July last year. It's now up to 95,000km."

He took his "electric lady", a second generation Leaf, for six-monthly checks as part of his requirements for work, but had only needed to have it serviced once.

"I'm not a petrol head so I don't know much about car maintenance so it suits me - there's bugger all maintenance to do on it."


Dearnaley reckoned it added about $4 to his power bill every time he charged the car at home, and at certain spots around Auckland he could charge it for free.

He needed to charge it every 120km or so.

"I'm running a taxi on $80 a month," he said.

"I'll never buy another petrol car in my life."

Of the 23 brands analysed in Consumer NZ's survey, Suzuki was the most reliable with 20 per cent of 432 Suzuki owners reporting a major failure compared with 30 per cent on average across all brands.

Land Rover, Volvo and Daihatsu were the worst performers: more than half of owners reported major problems in the past year.

Consumer recommended motorists buying older models go for a Lexus.

Fifty-seven percent of Lexus owners with cars 14 years or older reported major problems, compared with 76 per cent of all cars that age.

Almost half (46 per cent) the cars on New Zealand roads are used imports, most from Japan.

Consumer NZ's survey found no difference in reliability between an import and a New Zealand-new car.

The survey also found buying a new car doesn't guarantee trouble-free motoring. Thirteen percent of new cars under 4 years old suffered a major fault.