TrueDelta Updates Reliability Survey Results

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh

Thanks in part to the help of people from TTAC, TrueDelta received a record number of responses to January’s Car Reliability Survey—over 21,000. Updated car reliability stats have been posted to the site for 534 cars, up from 488 three month ago. There are partial results for another 378. These stats include car owner experiences through the end of December 2010, making them at least eight months ahead of other sources.

Some highlights:

We now have a solid result for the new 2011 Ford Fiesta, and at 88 repair trips per 100 cars per year it’s not good. The Fiesta has suffered from common problems with the dual clutch transmission and the fuel gauge. There’s a simple fix for the most common transmission problem, essentially cleaning an electrical ground and reprogramming the computer. But a few of these transmissions have failed entirely. The 2010 Ford Taurus has also been afflicted by a few common, if generally minor, problems. Ford does not appear to have tested either model thoroughly enough.

The “retro glitch” award goes to the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, courtesy of headliners prone to falling down. Did you think this once very common problem had been eradicated? Apparently not. And yet the aesthetically retro Camaro has had few problems of any kind in the past year.

The 2009 and 2010 Audi Q5 repair frequencies are now sky high thanks to plastic water pumps that are almost guaranteed to fail—another common problem that should have been caught prior to SOP. Audi A4s and A6s also suffer from the same faulty pumps, but not as often. These pumps have now been recalled.

Though thoroughly redesigned, the 2011 Infiniti M has been very reliable so far. The 2010 Hyundai Genesis sedan, on the other hand, remains average in its second model year thanks to a common problem with the power adjuster for the steering column. Which, ironically, is a problem that was once common in the Infiniti EX.

Japanese cars do tend to be more reliable, but they aren’t perfect. Older Subarus suffer from failing head gaskets and become expensive to maintain once the odometer passes 100k. Mazdas tend to rust prematurely where the roads are salted. And 1999-2003 Hondas with V6 engines and four-speed automatics remain susceptible to transmission failures. Of these three manufacturers, Honda is most likely to accept some responsibility and provide out-of-warranty assistance.

TrueDelta also has updated “nada-odds” and “lemon-odds” stats. These report the percentage of cars with no repairs and the percentage with 3+ repair trips in the past year, respectively. Among the 2010 for which we have these stats, the Audi Q5, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and Ford Taurus were the most likely to require repairs, and by a substantial margin. In all three cases the chances of having at least one repair have been about fifty-fifty. The 2010 Jaguar XF would have been about the same if we’d had enough responses for it. The 2009 is about the same.

With the most reliable models (Toyota Prius, Toyota Yaris, Honda Insight, Honda Fit, Honda CR-V) your chances of a repair-free car throughout 2010 were about nine in ten.

Only among the least reliable cars (generally 8-plus-years-old and European) are your odds of 3+ repair trips in a year greater than one in ten.

We’d like to provide these stats for all cars—just a matter of getting more owners involved.

To view the updated results:

Car Reliability Survey results


Come across something interesting in the results? Please post it in the comments here.

Michael Karesh
Michael Karesh

Michael Karesh lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with his wife and three children. In 2003 he received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. While in Chicago he worked at the National Opinion Research Center, a leader in the field of survey research. For his doctoral thesis, he spent a year-and-a-half inside an automaker studying how and how well it understood consumers when developing new products. While pursuing the degree he taught consumer behavior and product development at Oakland University. Since 1999, he has contributed auto reviews to Epinions, where he is currently one of two people in charge of the autos section. Since earning the degree he has continued to care for his children (school, gymnastics, tae-kwan-do...) and write reviews for Epinions and, more recently, The Truth About Cars while developing TrueDelta, a vehicle reliability and price comparison site.

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9 of 29 comments
  • Rt Rt on Mar 02, 2011

    Ah ... good timing. I'm starting to think about trading in my 06 Toyota Matrix, as it's developing a number of transmission problems at only 80K mi. (just dropped a grand on a clutch, and now I have a vibration from the tranny and it's getting difficult to change gears. Like shifting a box of rocks.) I don't have time for a car that I can't trust. CR-V is a definate possibility. Good to see it rates well. Forester is another car I like (better looking, better AWD, and I really would prefer a manual transmission), but it looks like it's not as well made as the CR-V. hmmm ...

    • See 2 previous
    • Rt Rt on Mar 02, 2011

      Already did the new fluid thing. Once at about 50K with the proper OEM stuff, and once with Synthetic when the clutch was done. No difference whatsoever. The tranny never did shift well. It's just slowly degrading over time. I actually switched cars, and am driving my wife's Civic. It's night and day. The Civic is SO much better. I'm hoping that by putting a lot less miles on the Matrix I can wait longer before we have to fork over for another repair, or replacement. Not to mention not having to buy yet another set of tires ! It eats tires. 3 alignments from 3 shops. Nothing seems to help. I wonder if I can find a nice used Yugo somewhere.

  • Philosophil Philosophil on Mar 02, 2011

    The Fiesta transmission reports are troubling. Is this the same transmission that will be in the upcoming Focus? If so, then this may not bode well for that car. Weird to hear about the rusting in the Mazdas. What could be distinctive about Mazdas to cause this? The long term ownership costs of the Subarus is also disturbing. I will have to take this into account for my next car purchase.

    • See 3 previous
    • NulloModo NulloModo on Mar 02, 2011

      Michael - What fluid leaked and caused the issue? To my knowledge since it's a dual dry-clutch system, there is no transmission fluid. The gear changes are said to be electromechanical, not hydraulic, so what fluid is required and where does it go?

  • Lou_BC As others have pointed out, some "in car" apps aren't good or you pay for upgrades. My truck did not come with navigation. It was an expensive option. There's a lame GM maps app that you need to subscribe to "in-car" data. The map does not give you navigation other than to tell you where restaurants and gas stations are located. I'd want Android auto since I already pay for the phone.
  • Theflyersfan Given so many standard nav systems aren't the best and updating could mean a dealer trip, and I stream all music, Android Auto is an absolute must. Wireless isn't necessary and some wireless chargers overheat the phone. And there are some hacks that let YouTube stream on the screen - excellent for listening to concerts.
  • Jeff I going to guess by the condition of the body and interior that there is little to no rust on the frame. Appears to be a very well maintained car.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would not buy a new daily car without it.
  • Namesakeone I hate the thought, and I hope I'm wrong. Mazda. They're a small fish in a really big pond, and they made their reputation on sports cars--a market segment that nobody seems to want to buy new anymore.