When buying a car, what do people really want to know about its reliability? Often: what are the odds it will turn out to be a lemon? And does it have a good shot at requiring no repairs at all?
Consumer Reports and J.D. Power have never answered these questions. They’ve only provided vague dot ratings that indicate how a car compares to the average for all cars. Even TrueDelta, which has been providing car models’ average repair frequencies, and not just dots, has not been directly answering these questions. Instead, car buyers have had to infer their odds of getting a lemon from the average repair frequency.
With the latest update to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey results, released today, this will no longer be necessary. This update includes two new statistics: “Nada-odds” and “Lemon-odds.” From a car model’s Nada-odds, car buyers can learn how many cars out of a hundred required no repairs at all—nada—in the past year. And from its Lemon-odds they can learn how many out of a hundred had to go to the repair shop three or more times in the past year.
It turns out that the odds of getting a problem-free car are higher than most people probably suspect, while the odds of getting a lemon are probably much lower. Many of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 models included in these results had a three-in-four chance—or better—of requiring no repairs at all, not even a minor one, in the past year. With all but the least reliable fairly new cars the odds are at least 50-50. This is why, whenever a car model gets a “worse than average” reliability rating, there are plenty of owners who say this cannot be true because their car has required no repairs at all since they bought it a year ago.
And the Lemon-odds? With many fairly new cars the chances of a lemon are under one in a hundred, and under one-in-twenty is the norm. Only with the very least reliable cars are the odds worse than one-in-ten. The horror stories are real, just a lot less common than many people think.
These new stats require more data on more cars. So this initial set of results covers only 100 models, 64 of which are visible to the general public. As the number of participants grows, TrueDelta will provide these stats for more and more models.
With prompt quarterly updates, TrueDelta can provide reliability stats for new models well ahead of other sources. Three months ago TrueDelta released the first reliability stat anywhere for a 2010 model. The updated results, covering owner experiences through September 30, 2009, include additional 2010 models. The redesigned Toyota Prius and Mazda3 have required very few repairs so far, while the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe has been about average.
[Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta]