TrueDelta Updates Reliability Data

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh
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truedelta updates reliability data

We’re all aware that buying a first-year car can be risky, especially early in its production run. But how soon does the risk go away? Conversely, a new car model can initially seem problem free, only to have a common problem pop up once the cars have a few thousand miles on them. To cover both scenarios, TrueDelta promptly updates its car reliability stats four times a year, not just once a year after a half-year delay. Our recently updated reliability stats over owner experiences through the end of September 2011.

Put another way, the stats you’ll find elsewhere cover the same time period TrueDelta’s did two updates ago, back in May. How much difference can half a year make? In the case of some new Fords, quite a bit. A year ago the Fiesta had a reported repair frequency of 130 repair trips per 100 cars per year, about three times the average. Six months ago this had improved to 102, still much worse than average but heading in the right direction. With the latest update it’s 66 and within the range we consider “about average,” if still a little on the high side. Our earliest data for the 2012 Ford Focus suggested that it might similarly have a buggy launch, but after including more recent months its stat is 42 repair trips per 100 cars per year, very close to the average. Ford appears to have fixed the early bugs very quickly. But not quickly enough: other sources, using survey data from last spring, will report “worse than average” for at least the next year.

The Chevrolet Cruze appears to have suffered a similar fate. With our latest update, it’s better than average, with a score of 24. Three months ago its repair frequency was about twice as high, 51. We didn’t have enough data six months ago. Judging from other sources, the repair frequency was even higher then, perhaps around 100. Thanks to quarterly updates, though, we won’t be reporting that the car remains “much worse than average” for the next year.

This update also includes our first reliability stats for an electric car, the Nissan LEAF. Only 16 cars this time around—we’ll have far more with the next update, in February—but notably none have reported a problem that could not be fixed by updating the software (one software bug affected the air conditioning system). Will the LEAF turn out to be as reliable as the Prius, which is among the most reliable models in the survey? With 41 owners reporting for the 2011 Prius, not a single one reported a non-software repair.

We’ll update these stats again in February. The more people participate, the more models we can cover and the more precise these results will be.

To view the updated repair trips per year stats:

Car Reliability Survey results

And for the percentage of cars that required no repairs or 3+ repair trips in the past year:

Repair odds stats

Come across something interesting? Have a question? Post it in the comments.

Michael Karesh operates, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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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4 of 16 comments
  • Orick Orick on Dec 02, 2011

    that reminds me to update my latest survey. thanks for the great work, Michael. It's great to be able to read the details of the problems as well in my car buying decision.

  • Marjanmm Marjanmm on Dec 02, 2011

    I see 2011 Jetta has average reliability, even close to above average. In fact the latest Jetta with below average reliability is 2007, all newer ones are either average or above average contrary to what can usually be read in the comments on this site.

    • See 1 previous
    • Michael Karesh Michael Karesh on Dec 03, 2011

      @Ubermensch The 2006 and 2007 were looking pretty good until recently. Looks like the reliability has improved enough that the problems might stay away until year 5. Beyond this, I've noticed that even when the average for a German car model isn't bad, that when one is bad it's too often very, very bad. And when people have a true nightmare they'll talk about it enough to seem like it's all of them.

  • Tassos Unlike Tim, I don't use this space as a wastebasket for ANYTHING BUT a proper used car.If you seriously need a car AND you are as destitute as Tim's finds imply, HERE IS A PROPER ONE FOR YOUR NEEDS:You can probably get it for only $4k, WITH Leather, Factory Navigation, plenty of room and a V6. even considered getting it myself as an extra reliable car.
  • Jeff Of all the EV trucks I like the Rivian the best but I am still years away if ever from buying an EV.
  • Kwik_Shift I definitely like the looks of the newest 300s over the Chargers.
  • SCE to AUX "Should car companies shack up with tech giants in order to produce legible infotainment systems and the like? Or should they go it alone?"Great question(s).The River Rouge days are gone, where Ford produced whole cars out of raw materials entering the plant at the other end. Nearly everything is outsourced these days - sometimes well, sometimes disastrously.But the problem with infotainment systems is that they are integrated with the car's operation. VW has delayed entire products for issues with infotainment.For me, the question boils down to a contractual arrangement - who owns and maintains the code forever? Since more and more of the car's function is tied to the infotainment system, I'd argue that the car mfr needs to own it - especially the larger ones.Do mfrs really want to share intellectual property with Huawei just to fast-track some code they've managed themselves in the past?
  • Kwi65728132 I always did like the styling of the 300C and it was on my short list for a new (to me) rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 luxury sedan but I found a Hyundai Equus that was better optioned than any 300C I could find and for several grand less.