Has the Poor Reputation for Reliability of Spanish Cars Changed?


The Spanish automobile industry is the world’s eighth largest in today’s market. They were previously the fifth country in manufacturing but production decreased when Spanish car brands and manufacturers were either closed or taken over by foreign companies due to changes in government policy. While a number of brands are now defunct there is still one Spanish brand that thrives. The SEAT brand is currently the best-selling Spanish car with their Ibiza model holding the top selling position in the brand. While the reliability of SEAT cars and Spanish automobiles in general has come under scrutiny over the years reliability surveys have shown a steady positive shift in the reliability of these vehicles.

The History of SEAT

SEAT was founded in 1950 under the name “Sociedad Espanola de Automoviles de Turismo, S.A” about two years after the Spanish government and a number of major banks formed a partnership with Italy’s Fiat. This was Spain’s way to revitalise the country’s economy after World War II, something Italy wished to do as well. The company’s manufacturing plant was created in the duty-free zone location of the Port of Barcelona because of its access to the Mediterranean. The decision to work in Barcelona also came after considering the history of the city in the car manufacturing industry; defunct manufacturers Hispano-Suiza and Elizalde had shops in the same area. The plant opened in June of 1953 with the first model, the SEAT 1400, coming out in November of the same year. From the moment the plant turned out products steadily with the use of locally made components. Their first model was considered a luxury car and wasn’t considered affordable to the average Spanish buyer so SEAT needed to make a more economical model to stay in competition with other inexpensive brands.

The brand thrived throughout the years but in the 1980s the Spanish government and Fiat over fiat’s unwillingness to contribute a major capital investment into SEAT. These discussions ended the relationship between the co-operations. This opening allowed Germany’s Volkswagen Group to step in and take Fiat’s place. The partnership still stands and SEAT continues to produce vehicles.

Reliability Ratings Throughout the Years

SEATs have had problems with reliability over the years. Reports from owners have been made regarding issues with the cylinders, and leaking hoses. The problems seem to have come after only a few years of ownership making people think twice before purchasing a SEAT vehicle. The older models may have had problems due to the poor quality of the parts used while in co-operation with Fiat.

There were reports made by news organisations like UK’s Mirror as recent as 2009. In 2009, the news outlet reported that SEATs most popular model, the Ibiza, was one of the least reliable small vehicles on the market. Not only did the report say that the car is likely to breakdown frequently after only four years but that each visit to the mechanic will cost over ??200 (according to surveys from car insurance specialist Warranty Direct). The report by Mirror said that the breakdown rate per year for the SEAT Ibiza was a high 48 percent. Other SEAT models, like the Leon, also had similarly poor reliability reports.

However, it seems like SEAT has fixed some of its reliability issues. In a 2010 report the Ibiza model landed in the UK’s list of the 100 most reliable cars of the last decade. While these may be conflicting reports it seems as though the reliability of SEATs have improved due to their co-operation with the Volkswagen Group who have used similar interfaces in SEATs and their own vehicles.

If you own a SEAT and have experienced some mechanical problems, you may want to try fixing the problem yourself. Try purchasing replacement parts through online shops like bestpartstore.co.uk – Seat. They have all necessary parts including oil filters, belts, air conditioning parts, lights, and other essential parts.


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