Car Reliability Stats Updated, Passat Problems Pinpointed

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh

Whenever we post about a Volkswagen, comments about reliability (or, more specifically, the lack of it) inevitably follow. So few will be surprised that, with the latest update to TrueDelta’s car reliability stats, the 2012 Passat again received subpar marks. Though the big sedan’s score is better than earlier, it remains considerably worse than most other 2012s. Digging through the repair reports, a common cause emerges. Ignition coils aren’t failing. Nor are window regulators. Instead, the most common problem for these cars happens to be rattles.

VAG certainly knows how to engineer a car without bits that squeak and jiggle. The far more complex new A6 and A7 have had hardly any problems so far, rattles or otherwise. So what happened with the new Passat? Don’t quickly blame the new Chattanooga plant: the “hencho en Mexico” 2012 Jetta is also prone to rattle. (Mysteriously, the 2011 Jetta fares better.)

These updated reliability stats cover owner experiences through the end of June 2012 (scores elsewhere are about 14 months behind). Among recently redesigned cars, the Passat is the exception rather than the rule. In addition to the A6 and A7, the FIAT 500, Honda Civic, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Veloster, and Subaru Impreza are all doing well so far. Initial data for the 2013 Mazda CX-5 suggest it will be joining them. The Ford Focus isn’t among the best, but “about average” is an improvement over Fords redesigned a year or two earlier (Taurus, Fiesta, Explorer).

TrueDelta will update its car reliability stats again in November. The more people participate, the more models we can cover and the more precise these stats will be.

To view the updated repair trips per year stats:

Car Reliability Survey results

Michael Karesh operates, a provider of car reliability and pricing information.

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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  • Buck__wheat Buck__wheat on Feb 20, 2014

    I keep reading comments about who in their right mind would own a VW. I own a MKIV Jetta. So far it's at 140,000 miles, but has never failed to start, and never had a major issue aside from a window regulator. I've owned a number of VWs, racked up over 300,000 miles on some (a 5 cylinder Quantum and a VR6 GTI) and have never had an engine/turbo/transmission problem. Every vehicle that I've sold has been due to rust (this goes for all my cars, not just my VWs). Looking at rust warranties, VW's and Mini's rust warranty are 5 years longer than the next best one out there among low and mid-priced cars. I drive rental cars at least 200 days a year and have driven just about every manufacturer's car. I'm really not impressed with the vast majority of them and I'll include the current base Jetta in there. Few of them have the steering feel or tracking of VW's in my opinion (again excluding the base Jetta). Only when you get into cars in a higher price class do they seem to match/beat the damping and steering characteristics of my aging Jetta. The two rentals that come to mind are a Volvo S60 and a Cadillac CTS. VW also offers combinations of vehicles that no one else does. I was pretty excited to hear about the Acura TSX wagon coming to the States as an eventual replacement for my Jetta. Acura decided that people who drive wagons don't know how to operate a clutch pedal, so off the list that car came. So in a year or so, I'll be passing the Jetta down to my kids and buying another car. I'm looking around for station wagons, and see only about 6 of them out there. Add a stick shift and you're down to VW. The corrosion warranty and the TDI engine make it almost a forgone conclusion that I'll be buying another VW. I'm sure there will be some of the smarmy Honda and Toyota owners who will accuse me of being a VW PR rep working under cover, and I am only one data point, but I am a data point with well over 1,000,000 VW miles under my belt and a few hundred thousand miles of Ford ownership to my name. My experience is VW's stand out in paint, drivetrain, and interior material wear. They lag in rattles and in the electrical department, but they're nowhere near the level of crap that a lot of TTAC comments portend.

  • Noelleo2112 Noelleo2112 on Nov 10, 2016

    My kid just got a high mileage passat and paid way too much for it. A few google searches about the engine on this thing turns my stomach, a timing belt on one side and another whole timing chain on the other? Im hoping he keeps the old neon with the funny transmission, because it sounds like it will prove to be the more reliable car.

  • Wjtinfwb "If I had asked idiot traitors what they wanted, they would have said faster horses".... What they wanted, vs. what they'll actually pay for are clearly two different things. It's not hard to want the vision of EV's the Biden admin sold everyone; inexpensive, fast charging with long-range, charging on every corner, minimal impact on the environment. The government delivered none of that. They threw automakers under the bus at the last minute after many of them made huge investment in tech, plants, R&D. Then Biden and his hapless bunch just walked away, built no charging stations, no support for natural resources and doubled down by stoking the labor fires increasing automakers costs substantially. EV's are absurdly expensive for the utility they provide and time is demonstrating their resale value to be in par with a 80's GM diesel wearing a Yugo badge. Sorry, it's not the consumers job to make a fairy tale come true. Making and selling cars is extraordinarily capital intensive, the automakers aren't throwing good money after bad betting on a senile old man who has delivered on none of his promises and is rapidly making himself irrelevant in the national conversation.
  • Fred As a British Car Fan I liked them, but then I sat in one and changed my mind. I like the unique looks of the newer ones.
  • FreedMike Not much to look at, but these were sweet to drive.
  • EBFlex Ford finally making a good decision although they should shut down their EV operations and investment all together. Why lose that money too?
  • Mike Lol. This is the king of suvs. And its made by GM.Why is everyone trashing it?Top of its its class for a quarter century.