June 27, 2013

A Marginally Useless Long Term Automotive Reliability Study

A friend and I were talking about cars.  His car recently died on him.  It needs a new transmission but that would cost more than the car is worth.   The car lasted him around 14 years and he got maybe 130,000 miles out of it.   My previous car had a fairly similar track record with about 12 years and about 130,000 miles before it needed a major repair.   I think getting 130,000 miles out of a car isn't so bad.  Its not great and I hope that todays cars will be good for 150,000 miles, but mid 90's cars lasting 130,000 miles wasn't so bad.

In the same topic JD Power recently released their latest 2013 survey results.    I saw someone say that their results are 'useless' because they only go back 3 years.   OK that kinda makes sense, as a better measure of how reliable a car is would be what % of cars can make it 150,000 or 200,000 miles.    The 3 year JD Power study isn't long enough to tell you that.   I think it is still nice to know which cars have more problems within the first 3 years since thats pretty meaningful.   A very well made car will have low failure rate in the first three years and a poorly built car is more likely to fail within three years.   Still it would be useful to know how often a particular car might last for 200,000 miles without being a total loss.   

I then went hunting for information on the % of cars that last over 10 years.   I found one article on that kind of topic.  I got it from a CBC news article written in 2007 so its a bit old and from Canada.   I figure Canadian data is probably just about the same as American.  I know its a little different since Canadian auto market is a little different than the US but I'm thinking that most of the cars sold in North America are basically the same exact cars with different numbers on the speedometer. 

Now this information is from 2007 and its talking about cars on the road 11-15 years later.  That means we're dealing with the reliability of cars bought 11-15 years before 2007 or back in 1992 to 1996.   Thats now 17-21 years ago.   A lot can change in a market in 17-21 years.   SO unless you're in the market for a mid 1990's car then this information isn't really too practical.   For example, look at how Hyundai is WAY down on the bottom of that list.   Today Hyundai has made great strides in reliability and today they are above average in the 2013 JD Power Initial Quality Survey.    What I think is better is to watch the longer term trends.   You'll notice that Porsche is at the top of the list below and Porsche also happens to be #1 in the latest 2013 JD Power IQS.   Toyota and Cadillac are both  well above average in both lists.  Dodge and Subaru are both below average. 



Anyway here is the list for whatever its worth:

Percent of cars on the road in Canada 11-15 years later by make as of 2007:


Porsche   98.7%
 Volvo   87.2%
 Lexus   83.7%
 BMW   83.6%
 Mercedes-Benz   82.6%
 Toyota   78.2%
 Audi   76.5%
 Honda   76.5%
 Acura   75.9%
 Cadillac   74.6%
 Lincoln   72.8%
 Saab   72.2%
 Saturn   69.2%
 Buick   68.8%
Chrysler   68.8%
 Mazda   64.8%
 VW   63.1%
 Nissan   61.0%
 Subaru   59.1%
 Mercury   54.9%
Dodge   54.6%
 Pontiac   53.6%
 Ford   53.6%
 Plymouth   52.5%
Chevrolet   48.6%
Hyundai   32.8%
Suzuki   30.8%
Lada   5.1%

Source : DesRosiers Automotive/R.L. Polk

p.s. I don't know what a Lada is either but I'm glad I didn't go to Canada and buy one.

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