Updated Car Reliability Stats: Who's Up, Who's Down

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh

TrueDelta has updated the stats from its Car Reliability Survey to cover through the end of September, 2012.

Elsewhere you’ll read that, for the 2013 Mazda CX-5, “first year reliability has been well above average.” We can’t tell you how the CX-5 performed during its first year, since the first few cars only arrived at dealers late last February (less than two months before that other survey was conducted). We can tell you that, in the seven months after the first Mazdas were delivered, few of them required repairs. Same conclusion, just an average of 3.5 months of data per car instead of a couple of weeks.

We came within a response or two of having a full result for the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports cars. Through the end of September they were looking better than average. But enough owners have recently reported problems with tail light condensation and a chirping fuel pump (the latter probably experienced in our press fleet pre-production car) that their score will worsen with future updates. If no further problems creep up they’ll have middling-to-poor scores for a few quarters, after which they could regain a better-than-average stat.

Among 2012s, the designed-for-Americans Volkswagen Jetta and Passat have improved enough that they’re now about average. Earlier problems largely involved trim and rattles. Meanwhile, the FIAT 500 has worsened in recent months, with no clear common problem. So far this has only taken it from better than average to about average, but if the recent repair frequency continues they’ll fall below average.

Continuing our review of new-for-2012 designs, we’ve yet to have a single repair reported for the Honda CR-V, with 47 owners participating. The redesigned Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, and Subaru Impreza have been nearly as flaw-free. The Toyota Camry and Hyundai Veloster have required repairs a little more often, but are also clearly better than average. More of a surprise: the all-new Audi A6 and A7 have been as glitch-free as the Camry and Veloster.

In the next grouping, the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Sonic are both about average. Finally, no 2012s for which we have at least 25 responses are substantially worse than average.

For a “sad face” (worse than average score) you’ll have to go back to the 2011 model year, where you’ll find two, for the Infiniti M (experiencing the sort of glitches people normally expect from Audis) and the MINI Cooper (common problem with the thermostat). With first-year common problems with the air suspension and panoramic sunroof now behind it, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has improved to about average.

You’ll find far more sad faces among older cars, especially European ones.

To check out the stats for other models and years, and to sign up to help with the survey:

Car Reliability Survey results

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source 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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  • APaGttH APaGttH on Nov 30, 2012

    Another data point showing that the bar for "average" is getting quite high and the issues to fall into the negative are becoming increasingly minor. We're really blessed right now, living in a golden age of cars with amazing horsepower, efficiency, technology, safety, and drive-ability that would have seemed the stuff of science fiction 20 years ago. I was just reading in the latest Consumer Reports owner loyalty survey that only car came in below 50% when asked, "would you own car XYZ again." Only ONE car. Every other vehicle has better than 50%. That's really amazing when you think about it. I know when people ask me in the B or C segment what car should the look at I tell them, "all of them," because there really isn't a stinker among them. It really comes down to your driving style, your taste in style, and your specific needs.

    • See 2 previous
    • APaGttH APaGttH on Dec 01, 2012

      @goldenhusky GM W-Bodies from 2005 forward are a STEAL, and if you get them with the 3.8 in particular are moderately fun to drive and as reliable as the sunrise. The 3.5 is pretty raspy and lacks torque, but if you baby the gas pedal you can get mid-30's on the highway. No one is going to look twice at a GM W-body in the urban canyons and suburban sprawl of NYC and New Jersey, so break-ins aren't going to be a huge concern. I'd look for a Grand Prix in particular, it was a rental queen and Pontiac is dead - can easily find one that was well cared for, well equipped, with the L67 NA 3.8 V6 (no supercharger) for under $10K - all day long.

  • SqueakyVue SqueakyVue on Dec 03, 2012

    "We can tell you that, in the seven months after the first Mazdas were delivered, few of them required repairs." How is this possible if you are only going on user reported data?

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  • GIJOOOE “Sounds” about as exciting as driving a golf cart, fake gear shifts or not. I truly hope that Dodge and the other big American car makers pull their heads out of the electric clouds and continue to offer performance cars with big horsepower internal combustion engines that require some form of multi gear transmissions and high octane fuel, even if they have to make them in relatively small quantities and market them specifically to gearheads like me. I will resist the ev future for as long as I have breath in my lungs and an excellent credit score/big bank account. People like me, who have loved fast cars for as long as I can remember, need a car that has an engine that sounds properly pissed off when I hit the gas pedal and accelerate through the gears.
  • Kcflyer libs have been subsidizing college for decades. The predictable result is soaring cost of college and dramatic increases in useless degrees. Their solution? More subsidies of course. EV policy will follow the same failed logic. Because it's not like it's their money. Not saying the republicans are any better, they talk a good game but spend like drunken sailors to buy votes just like the libs. The sole function of the U.S. government is to take money from people who earn it and give it away to people who didn't.
  • CecilSaxon Sounds about as smart as VW's "SoundAktor"