The Truth About Cars » most reliable cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » most reliable cars The Truth About JD Power’s 2010 Vehicle Dependability Survey Thu, 18 Mar 2010 19:46:08 +0000

I conduct a car reliability survey at Since we promptly update our results four times a year, we can report on new models ahead of anyone else. Last year, we announced that the 2009 Jaguar XF was faring poorly. This provoked a blistering backlash from owners at a particular Jaguar forum. In the end, threads on reliability were deleted and future ones all but banned in the interest of preserving what remained of the UK auto industry.

The outraged owners argued that TrueDelta’s results could not be correct, since Jaguar had just been declared the most dependable make by J.D. Power. I pointed out that the VDS covers the third year of ownership, 2006 in that case, and that Jaguar had discontinued, redesigned, or replaced every model in its line save the XJ in the interim. So the results did not apply to the XF, or the current XK for that matter.

Well, J.D. Power has now released the 2010 Vehicle Dependability Survey (VDS), which covers 2007s in their third year of ownership, and, as predicted, the redesigned XK has, all by its lonesome, sunk Jaguar’s ranking from 1st to 23rd. And it’ll only get uglier once the XF is reflected in these stats in another two years.

#1 this year: Porsche. Many people will wonder how Porsche fared so well. One likely factor: Porsches are often weekend cars that aren’t driven much. J.D. Power might consider doing what TrueDelta does, and post average odometer readings. A larger factor: THERE WAS NO 2007 CAYENNE—Porsche skipped straight from 2006 to 2008. The Cayenne is likely more troublesome than the sports cars, and is certainly driven more. So don’t expect a top VDS score for Porsche next year, when the Cayenne is again part of the mix.

“Long term” for J.D. Power continues to mean “the third year of ownership.” It used to mean the fifth year, but manufacturers have little use for fifth-year data, and this survey primarily exists to serve manufacturers willing to pay large sums for detailed results.

Many car buyers, though, are much more interested in how cars fare after the 3/36 warranty ends. J.D. Power has no information for them, hoping that car buyers will accept third-year problem frequencies as a sufficient indicator of how a car will perform over the long haul. Unfortunately, in many cases it is not. TrueDelta’s data suggest that all too often cars take a turn for the worse either soon after the warranty ends or after 100,000 miles.

As usual, the public gets brand-level scores rather than model-level scores from J.D. Power. Brand-level scores are of limited use for a car buyer, and can actually misinform as much as they inform. After all, people don’t buy the entire line. They buy a particular model. And the scores of models can vary widely within a brand.

Much is made of which brands did better this year (Porsche, Lincoln), and which did worse (Jaguar). Well, as noted above, the brand averages can be heavily influenced by the introduction of a single new design or the absence of a single old design.

For these and other reasons a focus on model-level scores would be much more valid and useful.

Also worth noting: as in the past most makes are tightly bunched around the average, 155 problems per 100 cars this year. Consumer Reports considers any score within 20 percent of the average in its own survey to be “about average.” Applying this metric to J.D. Power’s results, 21 of the 36 brands are “about average.”

J.D. Power notes that for Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln, and Mercury perceptions of reliability lag reality. No surprise, since (as I’ve found all too often) people often judge (and more often than not reject) data based on how these data fit their perceptions rather than judging their perceptions based on how they fit the data.

J.D. Power’s explicit solution: convince consumers of gains in reliability. The implicit solution: pay to include VDS results in your ads. But are perceptions based on the VDS any more likely to be correct? Or, as seen in the Porsche and Jaguar cases, are they just as often part of the problem?

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of vehicle pricing and reliability data

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Reliability Statistics Bonanza: Thirty Years Of Pannenstatistik Wed, 20 Jan 2010 22:44:31 +0000 ADAC tows and compiles Pannenstatistik

ADAC is who responds to essentially every automotive Panne (breakdown) in Germany. And with the Germanic proclivity for thorough record keeping, they have kept them all, and analyzed them more thoroughly than any of Freud’s patients ever were. Did your mother have a flat in 1983? ADAC knows. And they’ve been using it to publish annual best and worst reliability rankings since 1978. If you caught the Toyota Starlet CC, you’ll know that it was the queen of the ADAC numbers, and the bane of Mercedes and the other (once) proud builders of  the world’s most presumably durable iron. Since ADAC doesn’t have an easy way to see all thirty year’s worth of the good and naughty, my Germanic side kicked in and I spent a chunk of last night transcribing them unto a spreadsheet, because…well, that’s just how Germanic I am.

A few caveats: The category definitions changed slightly over the years, but they’re close enough. Also, these only show the winners in their respective categories, not an overall ranking. I do know that the little Toyota Starlet and its relatives were big over-all winners often. And to anticipate your concerns, ADAC notes mileage on each vehicle of every call in order to adjust the raw data. And they do the actual response under contract for many of the manufacturer’s mobility program, so they’ve got that covered too. The Germans are very thorough.

I almost left off the most recent decade because there are some questions about whether the numbers are becoming increasingly irrelevant and less reliable due to a number of circumstances. But the number from the eighties and nineties are considered by the automotive manufacturers as very accurate. The reality is that mechanical breakdowns have been dropping pretty steadily the whole time, so that the relative difference between cars is becoming less relevant. Or is that an excuse by the Japanese makes because they don’t show up as often? The German brands are certainly trumpeting their recent  improvements. You be the judge.


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