Hondas suc has this Civic hatch had the least number of extended-warranty claims during 2010.

How do you find out which brands of cars are the most reliable? Ask the people who have to pay for it when they break down.

British extended-warranty specialist MB&G has gone through its records of warranty claims to compile an accurate list of the brands that generated the fewest claims in 2010. Not surprisingly, Japanese and Korean brands dominated the list, with Honda taking top spot.

The top ten brands with the least warranty claims were:

1 Honda

2 Lexus

3 Mitsubishi

4 Toyota

5 Suzuki

6 Kia

7 Hyundai

8 Subaru

9 Mazda

10 Nissan

Car owners - including companies - are also keeping their cars longer, so many drivers are now, for the first time, coming to terms with the costs associated with running an older car.

MB&G's Kevin Pearce explained: "Modern cars are reliable but, if something starts to go wrong, it's more likely to be in the fourth or fifth year, when the odometer reaches 120 000-150 000km."

"Today's cars are packed full of electronic equipment that controls everything from the engine management system to the automatic gearbox. A small software glitch can often create issues, in addition to other components that can fail simply through age and wear.

"Many components are now not repaired as they used to be, but simply replaced - which increases running costs."

He pointed out, however, that the cost of parts and labour varied widely from brand to brand, so the survey tabulated only the frequency of extended-warranty claims from brand to brand, not their value.