TrueDelta's Car Reliability Survey: Good and Not-So-Good Germans

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh
truedelta s car reliability survey good and not so good germans

If German cars had a stellar reputation for reliability, Lexus would not be where it is today. TrueDelta’s latest Car Reliability Survey results, based on owner experiences through the end of March 2010, provide some evidence that a corner has been turned, but other evidence that work remains to be done.

Two years ago the current Mercedes C-Class had a relatively trouble-free launch, and in the latest results the 2008 is better than average. Nearly three-quarters of owners haven’t had a single repair in the past year.

The redesigned-for-2010 Mercedes E-Class appears poised to go down the same path. TrueDelta’s first reliability stat for the car, 56 repair trips per 100 cars per year, is very close to the average for all 2010 cars. For an all-new car with above-average complexity this is quite good. It’s also far better than the record compiled by the make’s SUVs.

Initial stats for the new MkVI Volkswagen Golf, GTI, and Jetta SportWagen are mixed. Gas-powered 2010s barely managed an “about average” score (74, lower is better) while the diesel-powered TDIs, plagued by faulty O2 sensors, scored considerably worse than the average (143). Both scores are considerably worse than those for the 2008 and 2009 model year cars.

TrueDelta also has its first stats for the 2010 Ford Taurus. With a reported repair frequency of 73 repair trips per 100 cars per year, the redesigned sedan has, like the gas MkVI VWs, barely managed an “about average” score. The related Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS had similar scores a year ago, and have since improved. The second model year of the Flex scores a “better than average” 25.

In February TrueDelta reported a “worse than average” initial reliability statistic for the new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain. Though only three months have passed, this score has improved dramatically from 94 to an “about average” 48. This suggests that GM quickly identified early glitches and rapidly implemented fixes for them.

Will the new VWs improve like the Equinox and Terrain have? With prompt quarterly updates, TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey will continue to track these and hundreds of other cars well ahead of other sources. Full results: Car Reliability Survey results

Participants in the survey receive full access to the results for free. The more car owners participate, the better the information TrueDelta can provide.

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3 of 33 comments
  • Telegraph Road Telegraph Road on May 28, 2010

    It would be helpful, Michael, if you provided standard errors or confidence limits for your reported statistics. The small sample sizes require this.

    • Michael Karesh Michael Karesh on May 28, 2010

      The amount of information I currently provide with the results generates a fair number of complaints. Many people are looking for less rather than more. I used to provide confidence intervals, and the standard errors are actually in the results table in the database, but they confused a lot of people. A solution might be to somehow layer the information on the site--I need a really good designer. There is also the question of how to appropriately calculate the standard errors. Currently the the formula I use assumes that cars are the relevant unit. Combine this with the interval values for individual cars (0, 1, 2 repairs trips) and the tendency of the results to cluster around a half, and you necessarily get large standard errors, since every single car is distant from the average and so contributes substantially to the calculated error. It might make more sense to treat individual months or quarters as the relevant unit, but I haven't further explored this.

  • Equinox Equinox on May 29, 2010

    I notice Audi is missing from the article as well as all the comments. Any ideas on how the A4 is doing compared to the Merc and the BMW?

  • MRF 95 T-Bird In 1986 the Yugo was listed as $3990, which was the lowest priced car in America at the time. The base Hyundai Excel was listed at $1k more at $4995. I knew someone at the time who purchased a base Excel hatchback in red with a four speed. I think he added an aftermarket stereo. He was trading in a Renault Alliance that he purchased a few years earlier for about $5k.
  • SCE to AUX Good summary.I still think autonomous driving should be banned until some brave mfr claims Level 5 capability, and other distractions like games and videos should only be available for stationary vehicles.As for the A/C, I just turn a knob in my Hyundai EV.
  • MrIcky My bet is flood.
  • Lou_BC "A Stellantis employee recommended the change after they had a near-miss with an emergency vehicle they couldn’t hear."I was at a traffic light and the car next to me had the stereo cranked. My whole truck was vibrating. A firetruck was approaching lights and sirens. They should have seen it since it was approaching from their side. Light changed and they went. It was almost a full on broad-side. People are stupid. A green light at an intersection does not mean it is safe to go. You still have to look especially at a "fresh" green. Idiots run the light, an emergency vehicle is coming, or it's icy and vehicles can't stop.
  • Lou_BC My kids drove around in a 2 wheel drive Chevy Colorado crew cab I bought off a neighbour when they were moving to Alberta. We kept it 4 years but sold it recently due to various engine codes popping up and the engine sounding more tired. It was one of the inline 5's known to have soft valve seats. All I had to repair was new front brakes and rotors, a wheel bearing and a battery. Both kids wrecked a tire clipping a curb. My oldest backed into it with his pickup which required a grill and headlight replacement. We bought a 2008 Corolla as a replacement for my 19 year old. It came with 4 new summers and a set of decent winter tires on rims. We'll run that until it looks like it will implode/explode. My oldest currently has 3 Cherokees (2 for parts), an F150 "Jelly bean", and a Mercury Grand Marquis. Insurance is very expensive for young drivers. That's why beaters can save some money. I haven't put them on my new truck's insurance since that would add around 90 per month in costs. I'll add my oldest to it temporarily so he can use it to get his "full" driver's license.