Auto Broker Magic

Josh Rosenberg

Used Car Reliability Ratings
For Older Used Vehicles

(Note: These two studies are for pre-2010 vehicles.)

When you're buying a used car, reliability, quality and dependability are a critically important factor to evaluate. After all, you want to avoid the expense, hassle and lost time of a car sitting in a repair shop all too often.

The problem is that real hard and objective data is hard to come by. This isn't information the car manufacturers readily share in a comprehensive way. Perhaps they're a little "sensitive" about it.

Well, in a long study on the reliability and repair records of 3 - 9 year-old automobiles by Warrenty Direct, released in February (2007), we're given some real objective comparisons ... and over such a large number of vehicles that it's being touted as the largest study of its kind.

You see, this company is a huge underwriter of used car warranties. They cover over 450,000 vehicles in the United States and the United Kingdom which include 33 different manufacturers.

All they had to do was tabulate their claim records. And what can be more authentic than real people, putting mileage on real cars and encountering real problems ... and having them reported?

Here's The Car Rating Results:

The results show the number of failures reported for every 100 vehicles (3 -9 years-old) covered by Warranty Direct's policies.

And just so you understand what the numbers mean: Mazda, with a score of 8.04%, would mean that nearly 92 percent of the Mazda cars covered experienced no mechanical failure of any kind ... pretty darn good.

 1. Mazda - 8.04%
 2. Honda - 8.90%
 3. Toyota - 15.78%
 4. Mitsubishi - 17.04%
 5. Kia - 17.39%
 6. Subaru - 18.46%
 7. Nissan - 18.86%
 8. Lexus - 20.05%
 9. Mini - 21.90%
10. Citroen - 25.98%
11. Daewoo - 26.30%
12. Hyundai - 26.36%
13. Peugeot - 26.59%
14. Ford - 26.76%
15. Suzuki - 27.20%
16. Porsche - 27.48%
17. Fiat - 28.49%
18. BMW - 28.64%
19. Vauxhall - 28.77%
20. Mercedes-Benz - 29.90%
21. Rover - 30.12%
22. Volvo - 31.28%
23. Volkswagen - 31.44%
24. Jaguar - 32.05%
25. Skoda - 32.12%
26. Chrysler - 34.90%
27. Audi - 36.74%
28. Seat - 36.87%
29. Renault - 36.87%
30. Alfa Romeo - 39.13%
31. Saab - 41.59%
32. Land Rover - 44.21%
33. Jeep - 46.36%

Any Real Surprises?

Perhaps some eyebrows rise seeing Mazda at #1. But I have to say, we were only "pleasantly surprised".

In our 4-plus years of turning the car business upside down, we've sold far more Mazdas than Toyota or Honda models. We were just always impressed with them, particularly when comparing prices. Thought they were a lot of car at an affordable price and our customers have had nothing but good experiences. Well, I guess now the rest of the world knows.

How about Kia at #5? Yes, we've considered them a rising star for some time now. Look for more good news from them going forward ... and Hyundai as well.

How about poorer ratings for some of the luxury cars such as BMW and Mercedes? Well, this really shouldn't shock anyone. There's a lot of life in these brands, but higher maintanence costs have always come with them.

It's too bad we don't see American car makers in the top 10. But again, that's still no surprise (although I thought Chrysler would have done better). But we think this could be changing in the not too distant future.

We see the American manufacturers making strides in this area. Also having some positives to share is Consumer Reports, who recently reported in its 2006 Annual Car Reliability Survey that the Fusion and Milan outscored the Honda Accord V6 and Toyota Camry V6 in predicted reliability.

The Zephyr also did very well in the upscale cars category, scoring just behind the Lexus ES350. Some other domestics also did well, including the Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Pontiac Vibe.

Note that we don't see GM (or Acura) among the 33 manufacturers listed above. I don't know why. Perhaps Warranty Direct does not have warranties for those makes.

A 2011 Used Car Reliability Study:

In a study by J.D. Power and Associates that is based on consumer feedback after three years of ownership, and dealing with specific models as opposed to an overall automaker, the results were as follows:

-Sub-Compact Car: Honda Fit
-Compact Car: Toyota Prius
-Compact Sporty Car: Mazda Miata
-Midsize Sporty Car: Ford Mustang
-Midsize Car: Ford Fusion
-Large Car: Buick Lucerne
-Compact Premium Sporty Car: Mercedes-Benz CLK
-Entry Premium Car: Lincoln MKZ
-Midsize Premium Car: Acura RL
-Large Premium Car: Cadillac DTS
-Compact Multi Purpose Vehicle: Scion xB
-Compact Crossover/SUV: Honda CR-V
-Entry Premium Crossover/SUV: BMW X3
-Midsize Crossover/SUV: Toyota 4Runner
-Large Crossover/SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe
-Large Pickup: Toyota Tundra
-Midsize Pickup: Toyota Tacoma
-Midsize Van: Toyota Sienna
-Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX 350
-Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Lincoln Navigator

Hope this helps with your used car buying.

All the best - Josh

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