As it has been year since the last McLaren reliability report, I thought it would be a good time to post an update. 2020 has certainly been a very challenging year all around and COVID-19’s impact cannot be underestimated. It has certainly changed our lives and as part of that it has certainly changed the way we have used our cars this year. 2020 will go down as the first year this century that we haven’t gone on at least one long road trip. However, that doesn’t mean that all the cars haven’t been used, they just have been used differently. With stay-at-home orders in place at different times, social distancing just a part of life at this point, and a self-imposed freeze on road trips, the McLarens have provided both daily transport and a welcome escape. We are fortunate to live in an area with some great back country roads where deer are probably a bigger issue than other traffic. Daily drives to “nowhere” have become a staple over the last several months and it’s been a great way to get out, put the roof down to get a bit of fresh air, with little to no risk of COVID exposure. The result has been that while none of the McLarens have racked up major mileage this year, they have all been used much more frequently than in past years. In many ways, a group of these short 30-50 mile drives out probably put more stress on the car than just a few of 500+ mile road trips.
The updates on the service history and issues of our four current McLarens follow:
McLaren #5 – 2015 650S Spider: This car has been my daily driver for the last 5 ½ years now. Up until very recently it has had no issues and the only time it has been back to the dealership is for its yearly service. There have been a couple of minor recalls, all of which have been handled as part of the annual service. This year it made two trips to McLaren Boston. The first was for its annual service, which was completely routine, and the second was to have a flat tire replaced. There are a number of homes being renovated in the area which seems to lead to random nails ending up on the road. These nails appear to have a magnetic attraction for Pirelli P-Zeros. For the first time, one minor issue has developed on the 650S Spider. The “OK” button on the small left hand steering wheel stalk has failed. What this effectively means is that until I get it fixed, I can no longer change the time on the clock nor reset the trip odometer. However, unlike some of the other comments I have seen on forums and from different vloggers, we have decided not to try and “lemon” the 650S Spider over this issue. In fact, it’s such a minor inconvenience that we have decided to wait until next summer’s annual service to get it taken care of.
McLaren #6 – 2016 675LT Spider: This car has done multiple 1000+ miles road trips and been driven hard in the mountains for most of its life. This year was a major change of pace for the 675LT Spider as it has lived at sea level and the longest drive it’s been on is 70 miles. The 675LT Spider has never had a single issue and it’s basically only seen the inside of the workshop for its annual services. Like the 650S Spider, a few minor recalls have been taken care of during the annual visits to the McLaren service center. This year it did made one additional trip to McLaren Boston to have a flat tire changed. As per the 650S Spider, it managed to collect a nail on one of the drives.
McLaren #7 – 2018 720S: The 720S coupe is no longer with us. It was traded in for #9, the 720S Spider last November.
McLaren #8 – 2019 Senna: The Senna had its first birthday in June. So far, it’s had two recall items that were both promptly taken care of. The Senna had its first annual service in August which was both completely routine and no more expensive than the annuals on the other McLarens. So far, the Senna has only seen road use, but I would like to get it out on a track post pandemic.
McLaren #9 – 2020 720S Spider: The 720S Spider arrived last November. So far it has had one minor issue with the air-conditioner not blowing cold. A quick trip to McLaren Boston rectified the problem which was quickly diagnosed as a low refrigerant level. The system was pressure and leak tested with no issues found. McLaren Boston topped up the refrigerant level and returned the 720S Spider to us two days later. The air-conditioning has been blowing ice cold ever since. The 720S Spider will go in for its first annual service which I am expecting to be completely routine. While the 720S Spider has yet to be taken on a road trip, it has gotten plenty of use on our near daily drives to “nowhere” and has quickly become Karen’s favorite McLaren.
In summary, we have now owned 9 McLarens, including 4 currently, over the past nine years. Two have been used as daily drivers for the last seven years. None of the McLarens have ever left us stranded and they have been by far the most reliable cars we have owned over the past couple of decades. As a bit of a comparison to a few of our other cars dramas this year, the F40 has been gone for six months now for an engine, turbos, and cats rebuild while the Mercedes GLS 450 had the air suspension collapse. The one other car that has been as reliable as the McLarens has been Mrs. SSO’s Maserati Granturismo Sport Cabrio.
Below are both the 2019 Update and the original article from 2018 covering all the McLarens we had owned up until that point.
As we have finished the service cycle for our McLaren’s this year, I thought it would be a good time to update the article on reliability. This year, more so than any in the past, we really put the cars to the test. On top of its duties as my daily driver, the McLaren 650S Spider also got to stretch its legs on a 2,000 mile road trip from Dallas to Boston. The 675LT Spider spent several months being run hard in the mountains and then was called to duty for a 2,750 mile road trip from Montana to California. The Senna arrived in June and has seen plenty of road time lately. As the Senna and I continue to bond, I can only see this growing once the season of snow, salt, and ice passes. Of our four McLaren’s the only one that has had a quiet year is the 720S for reasons that will be explained in an upcoming article.
The updates on the service history and issues of our four current McLarens are:
McLaren #5 – 2015 650S Spider: This car has been my daily driver for the last 4 ½ years now. No issues and only time it has been back to the dealership is for its yearly service. There have been a couple of minor recalls, all of which have been handled as part of the annual service. This year we also replaced all four tires and did a full wheel alignment. Four years of driving around the lunar surface like roads of Dallas had not be kind to either. The only other very minor tantrum the 650S Spider has thrown was over a dislike for 64GB Scandisk USB drives. When I tried to use one with the IRIS infotainment system it repeatedly crashed. Once I swapped the 64GB USB drive for the 32GB drive I had been using prior, IRIS immediately returned to life.
McLaren #6 – 2016 675LT Spider: This car has done multiple 1000+ miles road trips and been driven hard in the mountains its entire life. The 675LT Spider has never had a single issue and it’s only has seen the inside of the workshop for its annual services. Like the 650S Spider, a few minor recalls have been taken care of during the annual visits to the McLaren service center. To date the largest cost has been this year’s windshield replacement. The damage was caused by a rock that flew off the back of a large dump truck in Pennsylvania. It sounded like a gun shot when it hit the windshield.
McLaren #7 – 2018 720S: Never had a single problem and it just had its second completely routine annual service.
McLaren #8 – 2019 Senna: The Senna just arrived in June. So far, it’s had one recall item that was prompt taken care of.
In summary, we have now owned 8 McLarens, including 4 currently, over the past 8 years. Two have been used as daily drivers over the last six years. None of the McLarens have ever left us stranded and they have been by far the most reliable cars we have owned over the past couple of decades.
Recently I have had quite a few people reach out and ask me about McLaren’s reliability. I thought this was a bit odd so I checked to see what might be driving this sudden onslaught of queries. Apparently, a few vloggers have recently posted videos on YouTube bashing McLaren and complaining of major reliability issues. To be honest, I haven’t watched any of the videos as I don’t spend any time on YouTube. Hence I really don’t have any idea what the issues being pontificated upon are. What I do know is what our experience has been across 7 different McLarens in both the UK & US in the last 7 years ( https://karenable.com/my-mclaren-history/ ). Of the 7 McLarens we have owned, 3 are still in our stewardship, and we have put close to 80,000 miles on this collective group. In terms of issues and servicing, our history is:
McLaren #1 – 2013 RHD 12C Spider: This is the only McLaren we have owned that had steel brakes. I made the mistake of washing it once and putting it away with the brake discs still wet. The right rear caliper froze on the disc and we had to flatbed it to the service center to get it released. Also upgraded the infotainment system from IRIS v1 to v2 as the v1 was pretty useless. Only other time this 12C saw the service center was for its annual service.
McLaren #2 – 2012 LHD 12C Coupe: The only issue I ever had with the 12C Coupe was a faulty left front tire sensor. I had to take the car in twice before it was finally rectified. For most of my ownership, this 12C lived in Germany and spent many high-speed hours on the autobahn.
McLaren #3 – 2014 LHD 12C Spider: The only issue we ever had with our final 12C Spider was a temperature sensor that needed replacing. The car was out of service for a day. Other than that, it only saw the dealership for its annual checkup. This 12C Spider was my daily driver for a bit over a year.
McLaren #4 – 2015 P1: We had two issues with the P1, a loose rear side turn signal light and the IRIS Infotainment System failed and needed to be replaced. Other than that, it was just routine annual service.
McLaren #5 – 2015 650S Spider: This car has been my daily driver for the last 3 ½ years. No issues and only time it has been back to the dealership is for its yearly service.
McLaren #6 – 2016 675LT Spider: This car has done a few 1,500 miles road trips and been driven hard up in the mountains. Never had a single issue and it only has seen the inside of the workshop for its annual services.
McLaren #7 – 2018 720S: Never had a single problem and it just had its first completely routine annual service.
In summary, we did have a few minor issues with the early McLarens. None of these I would consider even remotely concerning, serious, or out of the ordinary. The later McLarens have all been poster children for reliability. I also have never had to add a single drop of oil or coolant to any of the McLarens that we have owned. When I compare this list to a similar one for other manufacturers, McLaren’s build quality and reliability has certainly been best in class in my experience.
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I’ve owned four McLaren‘s and like you I’ve experienced very few issues. Those that did show were minor and not worth mentioning. Generally, most brands new cars perform well in reliability. They have to as the market is so competitive and today’s tech and robotic assembly dictates precision. Gone are the days of manual intervention to turn fuel supply or spark plus gap settings. This has to be a good thing and has proven so. Well done in supporting McLaren – it’s a good young brand trying it’s utmost to be the best, and in many respects doing just that. This said, Ferrari is a great brand too. Perhaps an 812 GTS could one day reside in your garage?
This is the type of reports I like reading. Someone having a reliable experience, and when you’re paying for these cars you should expect something approaching perfection, and enjoying every moment of it too.