We’re all aware that buying a first-year car can be risky, especially early in its production run. But how soon does the risk go away? Conversely, a new car model can initially seem problem free, only to have a common problem pop up once the cars have a few thousand miles on them. To cover both scenarios, TrueDelta promptly updates its car reliability stats four times a year, not just once a year after a half-year delay. Our recently updated reliability stats over owner experiences through the end of September 2011.
Put another way, the stats you’ll find elsewhere cover the same time period TrueDelta’s did two updates ago, back in May. How much difference can half a year make? In the case of some new Fords, quite a bit. A year ago the Fiesta had a reported repair frequency of 130 repair trips per 100 cars per year, about three times the average. Six months ago this had improved to 102, still much worse than average but heading in the right direction. With the latest update it’s 66 and within the range we consider “about average,” if still a little on the high side. Our earliest data for the 2012 Ford Focus suggested that it might similarly have a buggy launch, but after including more recent months its stat is 42 repair trips per 100 cars per year, very close to the average. Ford appears to have fixed the early bugs very quickly. But not quickly enough: other sources, using survey data from last spring, will report “worse than average” for at least the next year.
The Chevrolet Cruze appears to have suffered a similar fate. With our latest update, it’s better than average, with a score of 24. Three months ago its repair frequency was about twice as high, 51. We didn’t have enough data six months ago. Judging from other sources, the repair frequency was even higher then, perhaps around 100. Thanks to quarterly updates, though, we won’t be reporting that the car remains “much worse than average” for the next year.
This update also includes our first reliability stats for an electric car, the Nissan LEAF. Only 16 cars this time around—we’ll have far more with the next update, in February—but notably none have reported a problem that could not be fixed by updating the software (one software bug affected the air conditioning system). Will the LEAF turn out to be as reliable as the Prius, which is among the most reliable models in the survey? With 41 owners reporting for the 2011 Prius, not a single one reported a non-software repair.
We’ll update these stats again in February. The more people participate, the more models we can cover and the more precise these results will be.
To view the updated repair trips per year stats:
And for the percentage of cars that required no repairs or 3+ repair trips in the past year:
Come across something interesting? Have a question? Post it in the comments.
Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.