By on November 30, 2012

TrueDelta has updated the stats from its Car Reliability Survey to cover through the end of September, 2012.

Elsewhere you’ll read that, for the 2013 Mazda CX-5, “first year reliability has been well above average.” We can’t tell you how the CX-5 performed during its first year, since the first few cars only arrived at dealers late last February (less than two months before that other survey was conducted). We can tell you that, in the seven months after the first Mazdas were delivered, few of them required repairs. Same conclusion, just an average of 3.5 months of data per car instead of a couple of weeks.

We came within a response or two of having a full result for the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports cars. Through the end of September they were looking better than average. But enough owners have recently reported problems with tail light condensation and a chirping fuel pump (the latter probably experienced in our press fleet pre-production car) that their score will worsen with future updates. If no further problems creep up they’ll have middling-to-poor scores for a few quarters, after which they could regain a better-than-average stat.

Among 2012s, the designed-for-Americans Volkswagen Jetta and Passat have improved enough that they’re now about average. Earlier problems largely involved trim and rattles. Meanwhile, the FIAT 500 has worsened in recent months, with no clear common problem. So far this has only taken it from better than average to about average, but if the recent repair frequency continues they’ll fall below average.

Continuing our review of new-for-2012 designs, we’ve yet to have a single repair reported for the Honda CR-V, with 47 owners participating. The redesigned Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, and Subaru Impreza have been nearly as flaw-free. The Toyota Camry and Hyundai Veloster have required repairs a little more often, but are also clearly better than average. More of a surprise: the all-new Audi A6 and A7 have been as glitch-free as the Camry and Veloster.

In the next grouping, the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Sonic are both about average. Finally, no 2012s for which we have at least 25 responses are substantially worse than average.

For a “sad face” (worse than average score) you’ll have to go back to the 2011 model year, where you’ll find two, for the Infiniti M (experiencing the sort of glitches people normally expect from Audis) and the MINI Cooper (common problem with the thermostat). With first-year common problems with the air suspension and panoramic sunroof now behind it, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has improved to about average.

You’ll find far more sad faces among older cars, especially European ones.

To check out the stats for other models and years, and to sign up to help with the survey:

Car Reliability Survey results

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and pricing information.

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22 Comments on “Updated Car Reliability Stats: Who’s Up, Who’s Down...”


  • avatar
    Rvinyl

    Well, I must say I’m not surprised to see the Veloster at the top of the list since it was conceived as a tuner car (see here: http://blog.rvinyl.com/2011/10/12/2012-hyundai-veloster/). Still, it’s always kind of funny how VWs do in these things. I mean is reliability supposed to be the result of good engineering?

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Micheal, can you please quantify what “average” is these days?

    I always see it tossed around that the cars at the bottom of the reliability surveys today would have been at the top 10-15 years ago. Is this true?

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, I think it is. As recently as the 1990s there wasn’t a question of whether a car would have problems when delivered. The only question was how many. People expected to take the car back to the dealer a few weeks after delivery to have various glitches fixed.

      These days, even the least reliable new models have about a 50-50 shot at having no problems at all during the first year of ownership. I can’t compute an industry average for the 2012s, since we don’t cover all models, but it seems to be about 35 to 40 repair trips per 100 cars per year.

      We also have a stat for the percentage of cars that required no repairs in the past year. Even the worst recent models for which we have enough data, the 2009 and 2010 GM Lambdas, had a 50 percent chance of no repairs at all in the past year. With the worst older cars for which we have enough data, this number is still 30.

      http://www.truedelta.com/lemon-odds-results/9-2012

      • 0 avatar
        LeCar

        I am planning on a new car purchase for the 2014 model year; considering a MINI hardtop but concerned about the 3-cylinder engines that may be used on everything below the John Cooper Works units. Does anyone have the math on longevity of 4 cylinder vs 1, 2 or 3 cylinder?

        It used to be that a car, even a 4 cylinder, was just getting broken in at 25k miles whereas a motorcycle was about used up at that mileage. Something about piston miles traveled or something like that. Akin to the argument in favor of the ‘slow-turning’ American V8′s vs those 3 or 4 cylinder “furrin’ jobs.” I think I should be concerned since I will probably have to do a fair amount of 80 mph Interstate driving. A decently equipped ‘S’ hardtop is certainly not inexpensive; having to go to the JCW models puts a MINI in too much price competition with other cars.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Do you really have enough samples of Audi A6, A7 and Infiniti M’s to form any conclusions?

    • 0 avatar

      35 of the Infinitis, 39 of the Audis. If you asked 30+ owners of a car if they’d had problems, and quite a few of the first group said they had, but hardly any of the latter group had problems, would you form any conclusions?

      The other people, with a larger minimum sample size but methods I wouldn’t personally employ, report average reliability for the A6 and much better than average reliability for the A7. Aside from sheetmetal and the rear cargo opening (with hatches generally more prone to rattles), these cars are identical.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I just hope a lot of TTAC readers are on TrueDelta.com. I participate in hopes of cutting down on the “floor mats gather dirt; horrible car” types.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I must apologize for not updating on Truedelta the number of repair trips my Cobalt has undergone recently. The reason is because there have been SO BLOODY MANY.
    In 20 months of ownership, from new, this POS car has had the following replaced:

    -Steering column (x2, one recall and another replacement, and it is yet again making a clunky noise).
    -Sway bar bushes
    -Roll bar bushes
    -Door seals
    -Gear stick assembly
    -Both front shocks

    I’m beginning to hate this car.

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    interesting numbers for cars that are mainly 3.5 months old…
    ive got a 20 year old ford truck that has been driven rough most of its life in the central ny rust belt and in the past year i have had exactly 0 problems and 0 trips to the mechanic.. while returning 22 mpg. maybe i got one of the good ones, who knows

    • 0 avatar

      Repair frequencies actually appear to fall after a certain point for many cars. I suspect this is partly because people start letting the small stuff slide, and are less likely to see minor failures as problems.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The fact that it is still running means you got one of the good ones. The bad ones met the crusher a decade ago.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        A lot of very old cars in my area as well, since the great Southwest desert knows no rust. But of those many old cars, very few of them are still factory original, and many of them had everything that could wear out, replaced or rebuilt.

        You can keep anything running as you replace or repair whatever breaks.

        What seems to be killing old cars in my area is mostly the E10 gasoline mandated for New Mexico; it eats through the fuels system and several engine fires have resulted.

        But the crushers in my area are working overtime. The real money seems to be in recycling old cars and selling off the metals and plastics. There isn’t a day that goes by that does not see several flatbed trucks on Hwy54 loaded with crushed and flattened autobodies, stacked ten high and forty feet long. I saw several on Thanksgiving Day, from my house.

        It used to be that if you needed parts for an old car, you could go to the nearest junk or wrecking yard and cannibalize old cars. Not so much anymore. Ever since Mexico banned the import of any vehicle older than 10 years, people looking for parts are SOL. Many of the parts dealers, like Autozone, NAPA, O’Reilly’s, Carquest, and others have also given up carrying parts for old cars.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Another data point showing that the bar for “average” is getting quite high and the issues to fall into the negative are becoming increasingly minor.

    We’re really blessed right now, living in a golden age of cars with amazing horsepower, efficiency, technology, safety, and drive-ability that would have seemed the stuff of science fiction 20 years ago.

    I was just reading in the latest Consumer Reports owner loyalty survey that only car came in below 50% when asked, “would you own car XYZ again.”

    Only ONE car. Every other vehicle has better than 50%. That’s really amazing when you think about it.

    I know when people ask me in the B or C segment what car should the look at I tell them, “all of them,” because there really isn’t a stinker among them. It really comes down to your driving style, your taste in style, and your specific needs.

    • 0 avatar

      I similarly tend to tell people to drive every car they might like, and see which one they actually do like best. They often come to me asking about the “best car,” but as you note it’s not so simple.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’m trying to tell a coworker just that. His 2007 Accord was partially flooded in Hurricane Sandy, and not being the type to buy the salvage rights and fix the interior on his still running car, he is in the market for a used replacement. Wanting to keep some of the cash from the settlement, he is looking at vehicles for 10K or less. He is focusing on Honda or Toyota, which when looking for bang for the buck used, is not really the way to go. I had him log on to TD at work and do some comparisons and he was quite surprised to see brands that he viewed as “compromising quality” were in fact not a compromise at all, at least in terms of the reliability stats. Hopefully he will come to the conclusion that most vehicles today are pretty damn good…

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @goldenhusky

        GM W-Bodies from 2005 forward are a STEAL, and if you get them with the 3.8 in particular are moderately fun to drive and as reliable as the sunrise. The 3.5 is pretty raspy and lacks torque, but if you baby the gas pedal you can get mid-30′s on the highway.

        No one is going to look twice at a GM W-body in the urban canyons and suburban sprawl of NYC and New Jersey, so break-ins aren’t going to be a huge concern.

        I’d look for a Grand Prix in particular, it was a rental queen and Pontiac is dead – can easily find one that was well cared for, well equipped, with the L67 NA 3.8 V6 (no supercharger) for under $10K – all day long.

  • avatar
    SqueakyVue

    “We can tell you that, in the seven months after the first Mazdas were delivered, few of them required repairs.”

    How is this possible if you are only going on user reported data?


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