Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: "They eat fish soaked in lye"
1996 Gutted, built
XP class Impreza L
10 most reliable cars
Four years ago, Motor Trend named the Toyota Tundra the 2008 Truck of the Year, calling it one of the biggest, strongest and most capable trucks on the market. Its launch, said the magazine, was “a seismic event for the industry” – a Japanese truck that could finally challenge its Detroit rivals.
The coveted award was just one of many accolades that have since been showered on the Tundra. J.D. Power & Associates last year named the 2008 Tundra the most reliable pickup after three years of ownership, and Consumer Reports called the Tundra a “good bet” based on its history of “better than average” reliability.
Ask an auto mechanic, however, and you might get a different story. The ’08 Tundra ends up in the shop more often than most vehicles and the repairs typically cost Tundra owners a pretty penny, according to CarMD, which analyzes repair trends on roughly 136 million vehicles up to 10 years old.
CarMD gives the 2008 Tundra a “D” grade due to frequent failures and moderately high repair costs. The most common repair on the truck is “Replace Air Injection Pump” at an average cost of $969.
Car shoppers have no shortage of resources available when researching which vehicle to buy. But the problem with most vehicle rankings, surveys and awards is that they are usually opinion-based and are typically skewed toward new cars.
Consumer Reports comes up with its reliability ratings by asking its subscribers to report serious problems they’ve had with their vehicles in the prior 12 months. It then uses that data to predict how well cars on sale now will hold up. Predicted-reliability scores are based on a car’s track record over the three most recent model years (provided the model wasn’t redesigned in that time).
But today’s vehicles are built to last longer – the average age of cars on the road today is almost 11 years — so even three years isn’t long enough to rate the true reliability of a vehicle.
CarMD says its Vehicle Health Index, based on actual repair data, looks past the new car ‘honeymoon’ period to help car shoppers get a true picture of what to expect as vehicles age. It looks at real-life repair data for one full calendar year on 10 model years worth of vehicles, weighing the frequency of repairs and the cost of those repairs equally. It gives each vehicle a letter grade for reliability, along with a list of the most common repairs and the repair costs, based on the car’s mileage. This helps buyers anticipate what problems might crop up at a certain mileage, and helps them figure possible repair costs into their budget and even decide whether to buy an extended warranty.
The 2007 Honda Civic is another example of a highly rated car that might need costly repairs down the road. Consumer Reports rated the 2007 Civic tops in vehicle dependability for its class. But CarMD gave it a “C”, with frequent failures and average repair costs. The most frequent repair is “Replace ABS Module Assembly” at a cost of more than $942.
Where does CarMD get its crystal ball? From your car’s “check engine” light. Since 1996, the U.S. has required each vehicle to have an onboard diagnostic computer to monitor everything from engine to transmission sensors to look for emissions-related problems. The “check engine” light alerts drivers to problems that could be as simple as a loose gas cap or a misfiring spark plug to something far more important – and costly – like a faulty oxygen sensor or catalytic converter.
CarMD downloads data from each of these “check engine” incidents, and combines it with repair information uploaded from a network of 3,000 participating service technicians at dealerships and independent repair shops. The result is a rich database about how certain vehicles perform over time.
For its newly released 2012 Vehicle Health Index, CarMD analyzed more than 163,000 specific repairs during a one-year period ending Sept. 1, and estimated repair costs, based on several standard sources.
To measure the frequency of repairs for a particular vehicle, it compared the percentage of reported check engine failures for that model to its share of all 136 million 2002-2012 model-year vehicles on the road. For example, if 20 percent of check engine light problems reported came from a certain vehicle but it made up only 10 percent of the vehicle population it would have an index of 2.00 (20 percent divided by 10 percent). It’s most likely a car to avoid. An index of 1.00 means that the frequency of failures is matched to its percentage of vehicles on the road, and thus, has average reliability.
The most reliable vehicles had an index far less than 1.00, including the 2010 Toyota Corolla (.080), 2008 Ford Taurus (.083), 2010 Subaru Forester (.099) and 2010 Hyundai Sonata (.111).
Here’s a look at the 10 Most Reliable Vehicles, according to CarMD:
2010 Toyota Corolla
The Corolla consistently ranks high in reliability studies and CarMD's analysis of vehicle repairs confirms it. It has few problems, and the average cost of repairs is $283.13. Despite a rash of highly publicized safety recalls, Toyota is the most reliable of any manufacturer, according to CarMD.
2008 Toyota Yaris
The tiny Yaris is a good bet, based on its showing in CarMD's analysis of vehicle repairs. It had a low incidence of "check-engine" problems and the average repair cost was $259.33.
2009 Honda Pilot
The Pilot doesn't even show up on J.D. Power's annual Vehicle Dependability Study, but CarMD says it's the most reliable full-size SUV on the road. Average repair costs are just $141.
2009 Honda Accord
The Accord is another vehicle that's not included in the J.D. Power dependability rankings, but its low failure rate and modest repair costs ($201.74) earned it a Top 10 ranking at CarMD.
2010 Subaru Forester
Subaru has some of the most dependable vehicles on the road, which probably explains why Subaru owners hang on to them longer than most other brands. The Forester rarely needs repairs, and when it does, the average cost is just $116.33.
2007 Lexus ES 350
The Lexus ES 350 is rated the most reliable luxury model on CarMD, with average repair costs of $377.71. But a "check engine" light is fairly rare in this car.
2011 Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai had the lowest average repair cost for the Top 10 manufacturers, at $271.86. Toyota's average, by comparison, was $490.72. But Toyotas have fewer repair incidents, so it outranks Hyundai overall. The Sonata, with average repair costs of $336.30, was the top-ranked vehicle from the Korean manufacturer.
2011 Chevrolet Impala
GM will introduce a newly redesigned Impala next year. It can only hope it's as reliable as the outgoing one, which had few problems and average repair costs of just $184.30.
2010 Subaru Outback
Subaru had two cars in the Top 10. The Outback holds up well, and repair costs average just $110.43. A testament to the longevity of Subarus: the most common repair is replacement of the catalytic converter, a part which fails only after extensive wear and tear.
Funny that the Toyota Tundra was best on CR's list, but lousy in the rear world.