Skoda Reliability – Common Skoda Problems
Are Skoda’s reliable? This is a slightly more complicated question than for most car brands because Skoda is very much a brand of two halves or more!
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Skoda has a very complicated history starting back in the 1890s. Like many other car brands Skoda started by making bikes and early motorbikes. In between then and now they have changed names many times, made cars, made military vehicles and other things during the Second World War and changed names a few times too.
After various political issues the brand consistently built cars and had a pretty good reputation until the 60s. They released the Felicia as a compact 4 cylinder saloon in the US and it didn’t do very well at all. People could buy a big V8 family car for the same price so it didn’t sell well, there were also a lot of reliability issues. The Felicia was the last Skoda to ever be made for the US market.
In the 1970s and 80s Skodas were a common site on UK roads. They were affordable and very simple. Much of the technology dated back to the 60s which meant they weren’t exactly cutting edge. They had a lot of success in Rallying but on the roads they were generally mocked for being awful cars. While they weren’t very desirable and they did break a lot they were cheap and simple to fix and had a lot of happy owners who preferred to look after cars themselves.
It was during the 80s and 90s that the infamous Skoda jokes arrived! Because the cars were cheap and not very comfortable or pleasant to look at they became the butt of some serious playground gags here are a few classics!
“What do you call a Skoda convertible? – A Skip”
“How do you double the value of a Skoda? – Fill it the tank with petrol”
“What do you call a Skoda at the top of a hill? – A miracle”
This list goes on! Were these justified? Only partly and they certainly don’t apply to anything post 1990. Even in 1987 the Favorit was launched designed by Bertone and it sold very well in the UK. The Favorit certainly set in place a change for the brand that would go on until today.
Skoda are now owned by Volkswagen (or a subsidiary group of Volkswagen), when that change happened Skoda pretty much became a new brand. The Skodas of years before were gone and the brand has gone from strength to strength. But just because they are popular and make some great cars doesn’t mean there are not common issues and faults buyers should be aware of, so here are some of the most reported issues!
As with all common problems some are related to certain models and certain times while others can be common across a number of similar models and even the entire brand.
Most Common Skoda Problems
The Octavia is known to have issues with the turbo chargers. The age range is anything from 2002 to 2013 so there are a lot of potential older cars out there that could have a problem. There is no clear fault they just don’t seem to last as long as they should. The signs tend to be a loss of power when accelerating and the engine going into limp mode. In some cases the turbo could write the car off so it is a serious issue.
This is a reported fault in both Octavias and Fabias. The issues arises when the plenum chamber for the windscreen wipers gets clogged up with leaves and gunk. The water then leaks into the footwell. You may notice a damp smell in a used car that would highlight this issue. While it isn’t going to cost the earth it isn’t very nice and would need to be cleaned. If left for a long time it could damage the carpet.
Loud vibration noises while driving are common with a number of Octavia models. It can be heard in the cabin and does get worse if left. It is most common between 1900 and 2900 rpm which is pretty much the common driving rev range. It is sadly indicative of a failing driveshaft and would need replacing.
There are a number of reports of a faulty timing chain system in some TSI engines and others. This is also common with the same engines used in various VW cars and SEATs too. It is to do with the variable valve system VW use which allows the valves to lift and allow the engine to breath more at higher revs thus giving better high end performance while not compromising economy in low revs. The timing chain is crucial to keeping the engine running and if it fails it can write off the engine. There are reports of Skoda writing off relatively new cars rather than replacing the engine.
In older Skoda Octavias there was an issue with the rear wheels that lead to uneven tyre wear. This can be a problem because you have to change both together and if one wears before the other it can mean you throw away a good tyre. Not ideal in the winter and wet weather either! Post 2006 this was rectified.
This is a common issue in many diesel engines and Skoda cars are certainly not exception. The diesel particulate filter or DPF can get clogged with particulate matter from the fuel combustion. Diesel burns with a lot of solid waste and the filter is designed to keep it from entering the air outside of the engine. However, short journeys can create more particulate matter because the engine isn’t hot and run enough. This blocks the filter and causes a warning light. It is common across all Skoda diesel engines. There are various hacks and tips to fix it like to doing 10 miles in 4th gear at 2500 RPM but it is always best to check with a garage of you have a warning light of any kind.
There is a reported software fault that makes pulling away in 1st gear smoothly all but impossible in the Karoq. The reports suggest the car “kangaroos” as though there are not enough revs but it seems to be unaffected by changing driving style. Skoda do seem to be aware of the issue.
The Skoda Rapid from 2012 onwards seems to have a range of electrical issues. There are complaints of Sat Navs not working, the engine management system itself as well as issues with he cars not starting. There doesn’t seem to be a single common fault but the Rapid certainly has a growing reputation for this kind of fault. Sadly when buying a used car intermittent electrical faults are almost impossible to spot or deal with.
The Roomster among a number of other models seem to have a rather poor quality air con system fitted. The issue seems to be that the system makes a lot of noise even when off in some cases. The general feeling is that while there are no faults the overall poor quality mean it’s just noisy and not very good.
In early Roomster models the sunroof is known to leak. Not a huge issue but water ingress into a car is never good. It can lead to damp smells and stains. It can also be rather problematic in the winter when condensation builds up on the inside and is very hard to clear.
Some Superb models between 2009 and 2011 suffered leaks from high pressured fuel pipes. Obviously a fuel leak is very serious, although more so for petrol models in terms of external ignition. The issue lead to a full recall so there should, in theory, be no cars with this issue on the roads.
There are a range of issues related to the DSG gearbox. These include odd noises and juddering problems. These are common across VWs, SEATs and SKodas as well as other brands that use this very common gearbox. The reasons and issues are a complex as the gearbox itself but it is important to check a car thoroughly and opt for later automatic models. As the years have gone by the problems have been addressed more and more.
Buying a Used Skoda
When looking at buying any used car it’s really important to get a history check, our car checker can provide a huge amount of info to help you avoid any nasty surprises. Certainly older Skodas seem to have a few more issues but they are certainly not a make to avoid.
Are Skoda Reliable Cars?
While there are a range of issues mentioned here Skoda do make reliable cars just as VW and SEAT do…because much of the mechanical bits are the same. Issues with DPFs and gearboxes maybe well be down to the sheet number sold rather than common occurrence because some other brands simply sell less diesels and automatics. Modern Skodas generally do very well on user reviews and reliability ratings and are a far cry from the days of endless Skoda jokes.
Skoda also have some great EVs coming through like the Enyaq so as a brand they are continually pushing forward. We are very excited to be launch a new service to help you choose the best way to buy a car for you, maybe it’s a lease, or perhaps its PCP? Our new comparison system will make choosing how to buy a new Skoda much easier.