By on March 2, 2011

Thanks in part to the help of people from TTAC, TrueDelta received a record number of responses to January’s Car Reliability Survey—over 21,000. Updated car reliability stats have been posted to the site for 534 cars, up from 488 three month ago. There are partial results for another 378. These stats include car owner experiences through the end of December 2010, making them at least eight months ahead of other sources.

Some highlights:

We now have a solid result for the new 2011 Ford Fiesta, and at 88 repair trips per 100 cars per year it’s not good. The Fiesta has suffered from common problems with the dual clutch transmission and the fuel gauge. There’s a simple fix for the most common transmission problem, essentially cleaning an electrical ground and reprogramming the computer. But a few of these transmissions have failed entirely. The 2010 Ford Taurus has also been afflicted by a few common, if generally minor, problems. Ford does not appear to have tested either model thoroughly enough.

The “retro glitch” award goes to the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, courtesy of headliners prone to falling down. Did you think this once very common problem had been eradicated? Apparently not. And yet the aesthetically retro Camaro has had few problems of any kind in the past year.

The 2009 and 2010 Audi Q5 repair frequencies are now sky high thanks to plastic water pumps that are almost guaranteed to fail—another common problem that should have been caught prior to SOP. Audi A4s and A6s also suffer from the same faulty pumps, but not as often. These pumps have now been recalled.

Though thoroughly redesigned, the 2011 Infiniti M has been very reliable so far. The 2010 Hyundai Genesis sedan, on the other hand, remains average in its second model year thanks to a common problem with the power adjuster for the steering column. Which, ironically, is a problem that was once common in the Infiniti EX.

Japanese cars do tend to be more reliable, but they aren’t perfect. Older Subarus suffer from failing head gaskets and become expensive to maintain once the odometer passes 100k. Mazdas tend to rust prematurely where the roads are salted. And 1999-2003 Hondas with V6 engines and four-speed automatics remain susceptible to transmission failures. Of these three manufacturers, Honda is most likely to accept some responsibility and provide out-of-warranty assistance.

TrueDelta also has updated “nada-odds” and “lemon-odds” stats. These report the percentage of cars with no repairs and the percentage with 3+ repair trips in the past year, respectively. Among the 2010 for which we have these stats, the Audi Q5, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and Ford Taurus were the most likely to require repairs, and by a substantial margin. In all three cases the chances of having at least one repair have been about fifty-fifty. The 2010 Jaguar XF would have been about the same if we’d had enough responses for it. The 2009 is about the same.

With the most reliable models (Toyota Prius, Toyota Yaris, Honda Insight, Honda Fit, Honda CR-V) your chances of a repair-free car throughout 2010 were about nine in ten.

Only among the least reliable cars (generally 8-plus-years-old and European) are your odds of 3+ repair trips in a year greater than one in ten.

We’d like to provide these stats for all cars—just a matter of getting more owners involved.

To view the updated results:

Car Reliability Survey results

Nada-odds

Come across something interesting in the results? Please post it in the comments here.

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29 Comments on “TrueDelta Updates Reliability Survey Results...”


  • avatar
    210delray

    Ah, drooping headliners, the bane of 80s GM cars.  I also remember riding in a carpool with a woman who owned an aging 1974 AMC Matador coupe with this malady.  She used a multitude of giant safety pins to hold up the headliner.

    In my own ’98 Nissan Frontier, the headliner started to give way in ’07 and then dropped completely the following year.  Luckily, the truck is a regular cab, so the perimeter clips and the sunvisors in their normal up position keep the headliner from touching my head.

  • avatar
    salhany

    Plastic water pumps? Really? Is this a common practice with other manufacturers? It strikes me as remarkably Trabant-esque to have a plastic water pump, particularly for an upscale marque like Audi. Ridiculous.
     

    • 0 avatar

      Chrysler minivans from the early 2000s also have water pumps that are prone to fail, though not as early or as often as those in the Audis. I think they might have also used plastic internals–anyone here know?

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      BMW used plastic impellers for their water pumps in their mid- late-90′s 3 and 5 series.  Failure was common and sometimes catastrophic.  My old E39 dodged that bullet, but I knew a few that didn’t.  Seems like an odd place to cheap out.

    • 0 avatar

      The plastic bits are probably more about weight saving than cost savings.
      It does seem that plastic pumps are common.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Michael, have you added the Taurus X yet?  Last time I checked, it wasn’t on TD.  I’ll add my ’08 SEL when you do.  My Accord is already part of the survey.

    Thanks for this data, always a great read.

    • 0 avatar

      We’ve always had it, but as a Taurus, bodystyle wagon. I don’t have the Taurus X as a separate model. One of those things I’d do differently if I was starting over.
      Please send me an email so we can add the Taurus X and get it caught up.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Michael -
       
      Do you have any data on where these Tauruses are experiencing the trim issue?  I haven’t noticed it on any of the cars on the lot, and none of my customers have experienced it yet as far as I know.  Could it be that the trim peeling is due to exposure to the various salts and chemicals put on the road to prevent icing up north?  Obviously that’s something that shouldn’t be happening, cars need to be able to hold up no matter where they are, but I’m curious as to why I haven’t seen it happening yet.

    • 0 avatar

      I have the state or province in which the car is located, but haven’t checked to see if this could be a factor.
      There are now also multiple reports for problems with the transmission shift quality (admittedly a common complaint with many manufacturers these days) and the optional blind spot warning system.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I haven’t heard complaints about the transmission shift quality, but I did experience a car that had a blind spot sensor fault.  I don’t know what needed to be done to fix it, but service had it in and our inside of an hour and working, so either the part was already in stock or it just needed a software flash.
       
      As the electronics in cars get more and more advanced I think we will see more early issues being due to firmware rather than bad parts.  It makes a little bit more of a headache to get all of these complex systems working right out of the gate, but on the plus side, usually the fixes are pretty simple.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “…the bane of 80s GM cars” I thought that only happened on all 1980′s Chryslers? I simply can’t believe GM would EVER have this issue. ;)

  • avatar
    JMII

    My ’02 Dodge Dakota and my wife’s ’00 Passat had the failing headline feature. I saw a mid-00s Civic yesterday in traffic with the same problem. Thus I can only blame the humidity and heat down here in South Florida. But yes almost EVERY 80s domestic vehicle I’ve seen has this feature too. I’m waiting for the day when they just give up and PAINT the roof with some kind of soft, rubber-based sound damping material instead of a cheap fabric glued to cardboard.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    Michael we changed our email address when we moved to Tampa…how do we updtae and get back on your program?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Ford better get its act together on the Taurus, considering what they’re asking for them.  Audi buyers will put up with a lot, but I suspect people who buy big Fords have reliability pretty high on their list of reasons for buying.

    • 0 avatar

      While a couple of the Taurus owners involved have had their cars bought back, most of the problems these cars are having have been very minor and their owners see them as such. One example: chrome trim tends to peel off the tail lights. Not a big deal, but something that nevertheless should have been caught during development.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Good to know,  but even cosmetic issues can greatly effect perceptions of quality and value, especially at Taurus’ price point.  But yes, not as bad as weeks in the shop waiting for repair.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Michael, I have HUGE respect for your system but I’m left scratching my head on the Prius falling into the likely no repair bucket seeing how the model years you listed had at least one recall for brakes, and some models had multiple recalls.

    I realize you’re under the same issue as every other one of these surveys, the bias of the owner’s themselves and what they decide to report and not report – or did you filter out recall repairs (I can’t remember if there was an option in your survey for – fixed by recall or not).

    Again – not directed at you at all nor Toyota, but it seems to me if you owned a 2010 Prius there was a near 100% chance it needed a dealer provided repair in the last 12 months.

    • 0 avatar

      The stats include no repairs that are entirely preventive, whether these are due to a recall, a TSB, or because the owner was “in there” and decided to replace a few additional parts.
       
      So if a recall fixes a problem before it happens, it doesn’t count as a repair.
       
      All of the reliability surveys handle recalls this way. Otherwise manufacturers would be even more reluctant to recall vehicles, and the public interest would not be served.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Got it and makes 100% sense – thanks!

  • avatar
    rtt108

    Ah … good timing.  I’m starting to think about trading in my 06 Toyota Matrix, as it’s developing a number of transmission problems at only 80K mi.  (just dropped a grand on a clutch, and now I have a vibration from the tranny and it’s getting difficult to change gears.  Like shifting a box of rocks.)  I don’t have time for a car that I can’t trust.

    CR-V is a definate possibility.  Good to see it rates well.  Forester is another car I like (better looking, better AWD, and I really would prefer a manual transmission), but it looks like it’s not as well made as the CR-V.

    hmmm …

    • 0 avatar

      You might want to look at changing to a different fluid in the transmission. I’m no expert in the matter–others here might be–but I’m aware of quite a few cases when switching to a different, often synthetic fluid and perhaps a friction modifier as well greatly improved the performance of a manual transmission.

      Subarus tend to do well for the first 100k miles. After that they sometimes get expensive. This is of course based on older Subarus, since newer ones rarely have over 100k miles on them. So the new ones could be better.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I really hate to admit it, but our 22K picnic table – er – 2002 CR-V has been a very good car. This is in spite of rock-hard park bench seats, hard plastic that outdid Chrysler, no matter how many textures that were molded into it, lots of noise and a lousy stereo that hates home-recorded CD’s. Ours has 88k on the clock, almost nine years old. My wife loves it.

    • 0 avatar
      rtt108

      Already did the new fluid thing.  Once at about 50K with the proper OEM stuff, and once with Synthetic when the clutch was done.  No difference whatsoever.

      The tranny never did shift well.  It’s just slowly degrading over time.

      I actually switched cars, and am driving my wife’s Civic.  It’s night and day.  The Civic is SO much better.  I’m hoping that by putting a lot less miles on the Matrix I can wait longer before we have to fork over for another repair, or replacement.  Not to mention not having to buy yet another set of tires !  It eats tires.  3 alignments from 3 shops.  Nothing seems to help.

      I wonder if I can find a nice used Yugo somewhere.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    The Fiesta transmission reports are troubling. Is this the same transmission that will be in the upcoming Focus? If so, then this may not bode well for that car.
     
    Weird to hear about the rusting in the Mazdas. What could be distinctive about Mazdas to cause this?
     
    The long term ownership costs of the Subarus is also disturbing. I will have to take this into account for my next car purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      It’s a brand new transmission being installed in a brand new factory.  IIRC, all of the Fiesta Movement cars were manuals, and built in Europe.
       
      I’ve noticed that the Powershift box feels more natural in Fiestas that I’ve driven recently compared to some of the first ones off the line, so it’s likely that they are all coming with the upgraded transmission firmware now.  Yes, it’s a bit annoying to have a glitch in a major system, but I think it was likely a tuning issue, not a major engineering one.  First year glitches are annoying, but at least they are getting fixed quickly.

    • 0 avatar

      The Powershift transmission had one very common problem, and as noted they have a fairly simple fix for it. Unfortunately, while the fix is simple, the problem made it impossible to drive the cars–the transmission refused to shift into drive. At least one of the total failures followed from a major leak. The new transmission apparently grinds its internals to bits when there’s no fluid.

      As for rust and Mazdas, Mazda simply doesn’t seem to employ sufficient rust prevention techniques either in how the bodies are designed or in how they are finished. Unlike other Mazdas the CX-9 has cladding around the insides of the wheel openings, so it should fare better.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      ” The new transmission apparently grinds its internals to bits when there’s no fluid.”
      I’m no expert, but isn’t that true of all transmissions?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Michael -
       
      What fluid leaked and caused the issue?  To my knowledge since it’s a dual dry-clutch system, there is no transmission fluid.  The gear changes are said to be electromechanical, not hydraulic, so what fluid is required and where does it go?


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