Problems With Chinese Cars? (7 Most-Common Issues)

The four biggest car manufacturing companies in China are Chang’an, Dongfeng, Geely, and SAIC Motor. The auto industry in China is rapidly expanding and is now aiming at the luxury segment.

Most consumers in the West often ask whether Chinese cars can compete with other global brands. We know that Chinese automakers have joint ventures with some of the biggest brands in the world.

In this article, we’ll b discussing some common issues you might find with Chinese cars.

Let’s get started.

1. Inability to Start

The Chinese car manufacturer Chery has been flooded with complaints from owners about cars that are unable to start. The Cherry J11 is at the top of the list with the most complaints.

The Chery J11 TX1 is a subcompact SUV that is both affordable and versatile. The car looks appealing for its segment and includes a few luxury touches.

Most owners of the Chery J11 complain about the car’s inability to start. This happens more often when the car is cold.

Upon turning the key to start the engine, a clicking sound can be heard from the engine. This is the kind of sound you’d hear with a failing starter motor or weak battery.

Unfortunately, the issue was not easily diagnosed for owners of the Chery J11 and needed expert help. A simple battery, wiring, and fuse diagnosis were not sufficient because the problem was not that easy to fix.

In most of these cars, the cause was traced to a failing starter relay. The starter relay is responsible for sending power to the starter motor when you turn the ignition key.

Symptoms like the car not starting and the clicking sound are directly linked to a failing starter relay. It can happen when there’s dust and debris in the relay that affects the flow of power to the starter motor.

A qualified mechanic will test the starter relay by using a full battery and checking connection terminals. If a fix is not a viable option, the starter relay will need to be replaced with a new one.

A new relay for the Cherry J11 will set you back about $100. This includes both the parts and the labor. Fortunately, the replacement starter relay lasts a long while before going bad again.

2. Fuel Cap Problems

A fuel cap allows access to the fuel tank so you can put fuel in the car. If this cap is compromised, it can lead to fires and debris or water getting into the fuel tank and mixing with the fuel.

This is exactly what happened with the Changan CS35 SUV, which debuted in 2012 in the Chinese market. Changan had to address the problem by offering free fuel cap replacements to curb the problem.

Changan CS35 owners reported a problem where the fuel was getting mixed with water in their vehicles.

It is estimated that the issue affects about 12,000 cars in the Chinese market. The company had to issue a recall according to government rules.

Fuel should not mix with water, and if this happens, it could severely damage the engine. Changan has confirmed that the issue affects about three of their models so far.

The issue was identified as air condensation with the car’s crankcase ventilation system tubes. Fortunately, the company started recalling affected vehicles two weeks after the issue was first raised.

Fuel caps that were letting water seep into the fuel tank were replaced free of charge by the company. If you decide not to go change the fuel cap, the company extends your warranty for a period of one year or 20,000 km.

Owners who had engines die because of the issue were not reported. We don’t know what happens after an engine dies because of this problem.

3. Faulty Fuel Pump Bracing

Around 1,000 Chery J11 SUVs that were shipped to Australia were recalled due to a fuel pump fault. The Chinese automaker issued this recall with the help of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Earlier productions of the Chery J11 had a fuel pump problem that could lead to a fire. The issues facing the Chery J11 have caused a slow introduction into the Australian market for the automaker.

A cracked fuel pump brace may cause a fuel leak and potentially lead to a fire. This was why this was such a huge issue for Chery to recall affected cars.

Upon seeing the problem, the company got to work on redesigning an alternative fuel pump brace. A better version was made and owners who had this issue could change to it free of charge.

The company also made sure that other affected parts were offered free of charge. This includes parts or components that were severely affected by the faulty fuel pump brace.

There were no fires reported at the time of announcing the recall.

4. Low Crash Test Scores

In the past few years, Chinese automakers have been receiving adequate and excellent crash test scores. However, this has not always been the case throughout the years, as various Chinese brands failed the tests.

The Brilliance BS6 is a Chinese car that has recently seen some blowback because of terrible front impact tests.

A 40-mph crash test was undertaken and the car’s frame was severely deflected. This proved a lack of integrity in the car’s frame and structure.

Unfortunately for the automaker, the side-impact crash test scores were just as bad as the frontal test. The test was compared to other cars in the same segment and they did not show such severe damage.

The Brilliance BS6 was not the only Chinese car to fail test scores from the ADAC Test Centre. Back in 2005, they also tested the Jianling Landwind SUV, which performed just as poorly.

The Chery J11 has also faced a recall due to poor side-impact crash test scores. The Chinese-made model was given a poor 2-star rating by ANCAP.

Chery reported that they were quite surprised and disappointed by the low score because their internal scores were much higher.

The company vowed to improve on the test results and admitted that it might take some time.

Other Chinese automaker brands, such as Geely and Great Wall, had models that scored slightly higher. This means the Chinese auto market is now moving towards safer cars that are also affordable.

5. Poor Quality Issues

Every car manufacturer in the world has an obligation to their customers to provide safe, reliable, and affordable cars. Some manufacturers use low-quality materials to lower the cost of their cars.

It is known that Chinese cars are affordable options compared to other global manufacturers. This might be because they sometimes use cheap materials in the manufacturing of their models.

Using poor materials to make cars leads to issues such as rusting, low crash test scores, and poorly performing engines. This is where most Chinese automakers suffer compared to global brands.

Using thin metal for the body of the car leads to corrosion, and an easily scratched body. This then means the car will lose most of its resale value.

A bad engine design means the car will suffer from periodic problems with multiple components. Critical systems and components, such as the fuel system and electrical system, may show problems early on.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Chinese-made cars has to do with engine problems. This is because issues with the engine are rather difficult and expensive to fix.

It’s important to note that not all Chinese cars face low-quality issues, but it is easy to tell that it’s the majority of manufacturers. As the industry grows larger in China, there have been some improvements throughout the years.

6. Electric Vehicles Catching Fire

Since the inception of electric vehicles some time ago, there have been numerous reports of cars catching fire. This number has skyrocketed for the Chinese electric vehicle market.

China is one of the largest suppliers of electric car batteries for various big-name brands in the EV industry.

China has now started producing small and affordable electric cars in a bid to take the market by storm. Unfortunately, some of these cars are prone to catch on fire.

The market saw a big boom back in 2018 when electric cars were introduced into the market. All was well with the cars, but the batteries were not designed well enough.

Electric vehicle batteries started exploding and catching fire for various models from Chinese automakers. The batteries were running extremely hot and burnt wiring.

Owners reported a burning smell coming from the car, which was because the wiring was burning. The batteries were reaching extremely high temperatures and burning the wiring inside the car, which produced a bad odor.

Related: Do Cars Explode When Catching Fire? Here Are The Facts

7. Copying Famous Brands

Chinese automakers have been known to copy car designs from famous car brands. This includes copycats for brands such as Mercedes Benz, Bentley, Porsche, and Volkswagen.

Many Chinese models were copied from famous western-designed vehicles and offered at lower prices. Thanks to lawsuits and criticisms, this has lessened in recent years.

If you look at some of the copied models, you can actually tell they are an outright copy of the original. Designs were exactly the same, but the prices were cheaper because of cheaper internal designs.

A copy of a famous car might look like the original, but is very difficult to replicate the engine design. The engine is rather expensive to copy and would increase the cost of the car.

Chinese models such as the Landwind X7, Zotye SR8, and K-One were all replicas of famous western cars. These were copies of the Range Rover Evoque, Porsche Macan, and Mercedes-Benz GLA, respectively.

Even though these copies look almost exactly the same as the originals, the internal components cannot be replicated.

The interiors of these copycats are not well-designed and are often not comfortable for long distances. This goes for the engine and power of the copied cars, which cannot be reproduced successfully.

The copied designs were mostly targeted at Chinese consumers who liked the look of western cars without the price. The cheaper cost of the copycat cars made them desirable for some consumers.

Nowadays, the market for copycat cars in China is gradually declining as manufacturers aim to design their cars from scratch. This allows design freedom and brands can make their cars as affordable as they want.

Related: Problems With German Cars & 9 Typical Issues (Explained)

General Pros and Cons for Chinese Cars

Here are some general pros and cons of Chinese cars:


  • Affordable models
  • Available in other countries
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Modern technologies
  • Huge variety of models


  • Inability to start
  • Faulty Fuel Pump
  • Fuel Cap Problems
  • Low crash test scores
  • Poor Quality
  • EVs catching fire
  • Copying Famous Brands
  • Faulty Fuel Pump Bracing

What Do the Reviews Say?

Here’s what some prominent publications have to say about Chinese cars:

Chinese car buyers are lucky. They can choose between more brands and more cars than any other car buyer in any other country.

Source: Forbes

Wealthy Chinese car buyers are unlucky. They pay far much more for their exclusive ride than their fellow high-rollers elsewhere in the world.

Source: Pressreader

What’s The Resale Value of Chinese Cars?

Here are the resale values of some popular Chinese cars and their mileage:

Model Mileage (Miles) Price ($)
2017 Chery J11 54,739 12,210
2014 Chery J11 72,847 7,480
Changan Alsvin V7 12,874 10,070
Landwind X7 New 19,600

Related: Problems With French Cars: 10 Known Issues (Explained)

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