Jaguar and Land Rover came second and third from bottom in an aftermarket warranty provider’s survey of vehicle reliability and cost of repair.

Independent automotive warranty firm Warranty Direct specialises in warranties for used cars whose factory warranties have expired – three years is the norm in the UK.

Only Jeep recorded worse results in the study of 30,000 vehicles from 27 manufacturers.

The Far East remains number one for reliability, with eight of the top 10 manufacturers analysed from either Japan or Korea.

The firm’s annual reliability index evaluates 30,000 vehicles from 27 manufacturers and combines the number of faults a car suffers alongside the actual cost of repair. With an average of 46,500 miles, the majority of the vehicles under the spotlight were in their the fourth and fifth years of ownership. The average repair bill was £321.82 – a fall of 10% over the last 12 months.

Mazda retained the top spot, a position it has held for four consecutive years, with Honda and Hyundai leapfrogging Ford to second and third places, respectively. At number five, Spain’s rising star, Seat, mades its maiden appearance in the index as the highest placed European manufacturer.

In comparison to beleaguered Jaguar, rival executive car maker, BMW climbed nine places to seven in a year, despite recording labour rates of £100-plus ($US160) per hour to carry out remedial work. Mercedes fell marginally to 12th with Audi in 21st place after the warranty firm found itself paying up to £147 per hour for labour.

Alongside BMW, only four other manufacturers improved their positions in the 2004 index – Honda and Rover rose a place each with German giants VW and Korea’s Hyundai both up three.

Renault was the worst performing volume car maker at number 19 with a below average £287 cost of repair, but a lowly frequency of failure of over 38%.

Subaru and Mitsubishi ’s excellent reliability records were tarnished only by the sky-high costs of repair when things do eventually go wrong.

“The Far East is still home to the most reliable and cost effective, manufacturers in the world,” said a Warranty Direct spokesman.