TrueDelta Announces Reliability Survey Results

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh
truedelta announces reliability survey results

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.

Car Reliability Survey results

Nada-odds and Lemon-odds

[Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta]

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  • Shaker Shaker on Nov 24, 2009

    I contribute as well, and it's pretty easy - especially since my '08 Elantra hasn't needed any repairs (but it's a 5spd with 6500 miles on it ;-)

  • Matt Cooper Matt Cooper on Nov 24, 2009

    Michael, I'd love to join TrueDelta, but I don't give out my email address to any sites anymore. Instead, I use with an extensive whitelist (which TD would immediately join). Unfortunately, you're still blocking spamgourmet addresses at the door - I've been checking back for years. I don't think TD will be the source of any spam. I just route all mail there so I can 1) track where I gave out the address and 2) not have to update 500 websites when I change email addresses. I'd do this on my own domain if I ever got around to having the time, and you'd have no way to know that I'd given you a "throw-away" address. If the issue is getting surveys filled out, why not track survey completions instead?

  • Tassos those 90s pathetic orange pixels are inexcusably lame in a 2010.The interior is filled with Grey Rubbermaid plastic and the tiny sliver of real or fake wood is an utterly pathetic attempt to pretend it's upscale (don't even THINK of "Luxury")Merc SLs with similar metal retractable roofs look so much better inside and out.Regardless of what you paid for this way undepowered near-luxury pretend-sports car, you would have done so much better with a PORSCHE BOXSTER...
  • Dukeisduke That's a cool picture (the one under the bridge) - where was it taken? Google Image Search doesn't turn up any matches.
  • Dukeisduke Okay, yeah, they should fix this, but, "URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE"? I think we're reaching Peak Idiocracy.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a great review, and very accurate from my perspective as the owner of a closely related, but longer and taller, E93 335i convertible. So much in this review is familiar. Here are the things that are a bit different about the 335i:[list][*]My car is a manual. Shifter action is good, with positive engagement, although a bit more play and rubbery feeling in the shifter than you would get with, say, a six-speed Honda. The clutch is a bit disappointing. It has a "clutch dampening valve" intended to protect against the most abusive clutch dumps. The valve throws my timing off a bit and I have had a hard time learning to drive this car with perfect smoothness, especially in the 1-2 shift. I may remove the valve at some point.[/*][*]My car has the turbo (in single-turbo N55 form). On the plus side, you get what feels like significantly more power than the rated 300 hp once on the boost, and even in fully stock form you get entertaining whooshing noises from the blowoff valve. On the minus side, there is some turbo lag, more than you get in many modern turbo cars, and fuel economy is, well, not close to what Corey is getting. The turbo car also comes with an active exhaust system that is extremely quiet when puttering while making some nice inline-six noise at wide-open throttle.[/*][*]There are back seats! I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. The six-year-old fits perfectly. The nine-year-old still fits, but that will likely change within the next three years. These seats are not usable for adults unless the front-seat occupants squeeze forward more than normal. E92 coupes are slightly roomier in back, and E90 sedans are substantially roomier.[/*][*]My car has the M Sport suspension, which does not have variable dampers. It's firm enough that I have to be careful to avoid even small holes on city streets if I don't want to get jarred. But if you can avoid the holes it feels good, navigating expansion joints and such without uncomfortable impact, while maintaining impressive body control for a porky 3900-pound convertible.[/*][*]My car has iDrive and a screen, as well as parking sensors. But it does not have a backup camera. Graphics on the screen are pretty good by 2011 standards, which is to say not acceptable by modern standards, but the system is easy enough to navigate and works pretty well. I prefer the rotary controller to a touch screen for fingerprint reasons.[/*][*]The parking sensors are by far the best of any car I've ever owned, and they are so accurate I really don't need a camera. The sensors go to a solid beep when the appropriate end is about 4" from an object, and I can comfortably cover about half that distance with no fear of bumping. They also project legimately useful graphics on the iDrive screen showing where the object is. I park in tight city settings enough that I really appreciate the accuracy. Also in the city parking mold, my car has power folding mirrors, which I wish every car would.[/*][*]Like you, I have the mid-level "Hi-Fi Professional" stereo setup, but in the four-seat convertible there is not a dedicated subwoofer. Bass is a bit on the weak side. Sound quality is about comparable with the JBL system in my Toyota Highlander, which is to say it's good enough for listening in the car but is not going to impress anyone.[/*][*]There are small leaks from the joints between the top and the A-pillars in my car. They won't soak the interior, but they will result in a few drops of water on the front seats after a hard rain. I'm still experimenting to see if regular applications of rubber protectant can restore the seals enough to eliminate the leaks. There are no leaks from any other part of the top mechanism.[/*][*]I've only owned the car for about eight months and 1500 miles, but so far nothing has broken and every feature on the car works correctly. A purchase-time inspection found only an incorrectly secured fan shroud and no other problems, and there is a mostly complete service history, so this was a well-maintained car to start with.[/*][/list]
  • Lou_BC This offer reminds me of those plans where you get something free but if you fail to cancel prior to the expiry of the "Free" plan you end up on the hook for a lengthy contract. Tesla wants to attract people to their electrical company. It's smart. Make money selling the car, make money with subscription services on the car, and make money selling the fuel to power the car at home and at charging stations.