In just the second year of its study, CarMD found that Toyota (including Scion and Lexus) has once again held its ground as the most reliable automaker having the fewest issues that would set a check engine light. Likewise, Hyundai stays at the runner up spot. BMW sits in the third spot after not being named to the list at all last year. Honda and Volkswagen round out the top five. In terms of cost to repair, it isn't that surprising that BMW has the most expensive repair costs at an average of $502.48, but we were definitely surprised to see Toyota listed in the two spot with average repairs of $490.72. American automakers General Motors and Ford dropped out of the top five to the eight and nine spots, respectively.
Overall, the most reliable car on the list is the 2010 Toyota Corolla just barely ahead of the 2008 Ford Taurus and the 2008 Toyota Yaris. Of the top 100 cars, 16 of them were Toyotas with Ford following close behind with 15 cars on the list. Ford did take the top spot when it in the truck category and Subaru was named the best in the wagon and crossover SUV category. The study even breaks down the top five causes for a check engine light by automaker.
Scroll down for the official press release, and be sure to check out the full CarMD reliability study.
Offsetting surge in repair costs, data shows manufacturers continue to improve reliability
IRVINE, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2012) – CarMD.com Corporation, a leading provider of automotive information and products, today released the second annual CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™ Manufacturer & Vehicle Rankings and Lists, providing the industry and consumers with the first year-over-year comparison of makes and models with the lowest combined "check engine" repair incidents and costs. Based on more than 163,000 specific repairs performed from Sept. 1, 2011 to Sept. 1, 2012, the Index encompasses approximately 136 million model year 2002 to 2012 vehicles. The CarMD Index ranks the top 10 manufacturers, top 100 vehicles, top three vehicles by category and most prevalent repairs by make. Current and archived indices are available at http://corp.carmd.com.
"Sourced directly from CarMD's network of thousands of certified automotive technicians, this ranking of top manufacturers and vehicles provides an unbiased and unprecedented view into vehicle reliability, based on total vehicle population and real-life repairs," said Art Jacobsen, vice president, CarMD. "Unlike any other ranking or award, CarMD's Index transcends the new car 'honeymoon' period to help car shoppers get a true picture of what to expect as vehicles age."
Drivers can now see a list of common problems and repair costs by year, make, model and mileage with the free online CarMD® Vehicle Health ScoreCard™ tool, available at www.carmd.com/ScoreCard.
Top Ranked Manufacturers
According to the 2012 CarMD Vehicle Health Index, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., is the no. 1-ranked manufacturer in the U.S. for the second consecutive year. Toyota earns the top spot with the lowest Index rating of 0.58, which is an improvement from its 0.67 rating in 2011 (the lower the rating score, the better the overall ranking). Rounding out the top five vehicle manufacturers of 2012 are no. 2 Hyundai Motor America, no. 3 BMW USA, no. 4 Honda Motor Co., Inc. and no. 5 Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Manufacturer / Overall CarMD 2012 Index Rating / Average Repair Cost (Parts & Labor)
Toyota / 0.58 / $490.72
Hyundai / 0.67 / $271.86
BMW / 0.84 / $502.48
Honda / 0.98 / $466.77
Volkswagen / 0.99 / $392.00
Nissan / 1.00 / $366.53
Kia / 1.04 / $320.08
General Motors / 1.12 / $290.50
Ford / 1.17 / $340.96
Chrysler / 1.23 / $287.93
(Top 10 vehicle manufacturers based on model year 2002-2012 vehicles needing repairs between Sept. 1, 2011 and Sept. 1, 2012, and determined by the manufacturers whose vehicles had the fewest percentage of repair incidents combined with the lowest cost per repair, per number of registered vehicles on the road. Sources: CarMD.com Corp., with vehicle population data provided by R.L. Polk.)
CarMD Ranks Top Manufacturers and Vehicles
This year's Index shows that by and large today's manufacturers continue to improve their overall vehicle reliability demonstrated by improvements in rating scores, with GM and Ford as exceptions. Toyota and Hyundai each held their spots as the top two-ranked manufacturers, with Toyota's Index score improving, helped by lower repair incidents. With the lowest average repair cost among the top 10 manufacturers, Hyundai improved its score over last year from 0.85 to 0.67 – achieving the exact score that earned Toyota the no. 1 spot in 2011. Since last year, domestic manufacturers dropped out of the top five, with Ford moving from no. 4 to no. 9 and GM dropping from no. 5 to no. 8. Both GM and Ford experienced a slight drop in repair incidents, but an increase in average repair costs. GM's average cost for "check engine"-related repairs rose 18 percent from $245.27 in 2011 to $290.50 in 2012. Ford's average repair costs increased 42 percent from $240.68 to $340.96.
Top Ranked Vehicles
Sourcing the nation's largest database of "check engine"-related problems and repairs, the CarMD Index ranks and rates the reliability of a decade span of makes and models, offering a unique resource for consumers when making new and pre-owned car and truck purchases. The top 100 most reliable vehicles represent the best 5 percent of vehicles from nearly 3,000 different registered vehicle types on the road today, with the complete list available at http://corp.carmd.com.
"Thanks to on-board diagnostic technology that optimize vehicle performance, cars are getting more and more reliable with every succeeding generation," said Jacobsen, "This technology and related data mean manufacturers are more adept at building reliable vehicles, and with diagnosing and repairing things that do go wrong. The days of avoiding a vehicle or brand because of lesser reliability or stigma are past. The worst car on the list today is still more reliable than virtually any vehicle made 20 years ago."
No. 1-ranked manufacturer Toyota accounts for two of the top 10 and 18 of the top 100 vehicles (16 Toyota and two Lexus vehicles). The no. 1- ranked 2010 Toyota Corolla has the lowest combined repair incidents and lowest average repair costs per number of registered vehicles with the best CarMD Index rating of 0.080. Ford has a personal best 15 vehicles in the top 100, led by the no. 2-ranked 2008 Ford Taurus. Subaru has 11 vehicles in the top 100, including the no. 6-ranked 2010 Subaru Forester and the no. 10-ranked 2010 Outback. Chevrolet ranks fourth among manufacturers with the most vehicles in the top 100, with nine, led by the 2011 Chevy Impala (no. 9). Rounding out the brands with the most vehicles in the top 100 is Honda with six overall, including two in the top 10: the 2009 Honda Pilot (no. 4) and 2009 Accord (no. 5).
This Index also ranks the top three vehicles by category: Compact, Minivan, Sedan, Full-Sized SUV, Wagon/Crossover SUV, Truck and Luxury. This year marks the first time that a manufacturer earned all three of the top spots in their respective category, and it happened not once – but twice. Subaru swept the Wagon/Crossover SUV category with its 2010 Forester, 2010 Outback and 2011 Forester. Ford earned all three top spots in the Truck category with its 2008 Ranger, 2009 F150 and 2008 F150.
Common Repairs by Brand/Make
Different vehicle makes often have a unique set of problems and repairs. The CarMD Index points out common issues and associated repair costs by manufacturer, providing a helpful resource for vehicle owners as they budget to maintain and repair their vehicles. For instance "Replace Oxygen Sensor" accounted for 28 percent of Mini repairs in 2012. Earlier this year, the CarMD Vehicle Health Index revealed that the no. 1 most common repair on vehicles in the U.S. is "replace oxygen sensor." O2 sensors measure the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust and tell a car's computer when there is either too much, or not enough fuel as compared with oxygen for ideal operation. If a faulty O2 sensor is not repaired, the car's fuel economy can drop by as much as 40 percent. Other examples: Loose or damaged gas caps account for 21 percent of Scion repairs; "replace Ignition Control Module" accounted for 26 percent of Saab repairs; and Subaru vehicles tended to require the replacement of their catalytic converter(s) (22 percent).
About The CarMD Vehicle Health Index
The data for the 2012 CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™ Manufacturer & Vehicle Reliability Rankings was procured from CarMD's network of thousands of certified automotive technicians and database of more than 3 million verified repairs. The November 2012 Index statistically analyzes repairs that apply to roughly 136 million model year 2002 to 2012 vehicles, taking place in the U.S. from Sept. 1, 2011 through Sept. 1, 2012. In determining the top 10 manufacturers, CarMD included those whose makes and models account for at least 1% of the U.S. vehicle population according to R.L. Polk data, and 1% of CarMD's data. Brands were grouped under their parent manufacturer (i.e. Lexus and Scion under Toyota; Acura under Honda; Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn under GM; Infiniti with Nissan, etc.) For more information, including the complete Index, methodology and archived data, visit http://corp.carmd.com.