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Car Reliability Rating

The first reliability measurement based on the cost, frequency, and severity of actual repairs.

Learn About Your Vehicle's Reliability
Honda, Lexus, and Hyundai top RepairPal’s most reliable cars with launch of first ever Reliability Rating

Most Americans count on their vehicle to get to work, transport their family, and run errands. But for many consumers shopping for a new or used car, it is difficult to know whether a specific vehicle will be reliable and end up costing them extra money down the road. RepairPal analyzed millions of repair orders from over 2,000 auto shops across the country to create the first ever Reliability Rating based on actual repairs. While other reliability scores are based on subjective results from consumer surveys, RepairPal’s Reliability Rating uses real-world data to help consumers research the best car for them.

Key Findings on Reliability

Asian automakers dominate the ratings with Honda, Lexus, Hyundai, Mazda, Kia, Toyota, and Acura all scoring an Excellent rating of 4.5 out of 5.

  • Honda led all brands in reliability, with their 3 most popular CR-V, Civic, and Accord models ranking in the top 10 most reliable cars.
  • Lexus was the second most reliable brand overall and highest-ranking luxury brand due to Excellent ratings on the popular ES, IS, and RX models.
  • Kia was the most consistently reliable brand ranking fifth overall. Kia and Mazda were the only brands to score a 4.0 or higher on every model.
  • The Toyota Yaris earned the top spot as the most reliable car due to its low cost of ownership and infrequent visits to shops. The BMW 335d scored lowest in reliability due to its high probability of expensive repairs.

Domestic and European manufacturers rated behind Asian brands with Chrysler and Buick scoring highest for domestic brands and Volkswagen ranking first among European manufacturers.

Reliability Rating Breakdown For All Cars
Cost
The average annual repair cost for all cars is $620 per year. This includes both major scheduled maintenance and unscheduled repairs.
$620
inexpensive
very expensive
Frequency
The average car visits a repair shop approximately once every two years for major unscheduled repair, or 0.5 times per year. The best cars average 2-3 years before needing a major repair while we observed some models averaging multiple visits per year.
0.5
not often
way too often
Severity
On average across all models, 11% of repairs are considered severe. By analyzing cost and frequency of major repairs we can determine the probability of a repair being a major issue.
11%
minor issues
major issues
Most Reliable Car Brands

Everyone wants a reliable car, and the truth is that today’s cars are more dependable than ever. Asian manufacturers account for 9 out of the 10 most reliable car brands. The weighted average reliability of Asian brands rated excellent at 4.5 compared to 4.0 (Good) for domestic and 3.0 (Average) for European brands. While European ratings suffered due to more luxury brands, domestic brands ranked lower due to larger trucks, both of which are often more expensive to maintain long-term. Brands such as Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Buick rated higher than truck-oriented brands like Ford and Ram, or luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Honda ranked first among all brands due to a low annual average repair cost of $399. Additionally, Honda’s three most reliable cars, the Civic, CR-V, and Accord, account for 75% of all Honda’s on the road, which elevated the brand to #1 after calculating a weighted average reliability of all models. Lexus came in at #2 overall and was highest-ranking luxury brand due to Excellent ratings on the popular ES, IS, and RX models. Similar to Honda, these three models represent over 75% of Lexus’ sold. Hyundai and Kia grabbed the #3 and #5 spots respectively demonstrating the high dependability of Korean brands. Kia represented the most consistent brand in the study and along with Mazda were the only brands with every model in their line-up scoring 4.0 or better. Toyota and Acura rounded out the other top brands scoring an Excellent rating of 4.5. Chrysler (#10) and Volkswagen (#11) represented the top domestic and European brands respectively. Chrysler benefitted from having a car-only line-up when compared to other domestic brands like Chevrolet (#17) and Ford (#21) that have a high proportion of trucks. Volkswagen’s highest scoring models included the Beetle, Passat, and Jetta which account for 80% of their vehicles on the road.

The Most Reliable Brands, With Average Annual Repair Costs

These 7 car makes have an excellent Reliability Rating of 4.5.

Excellent
1. Honda
$398
Annual Repair Cost
2. Lexus
$549
3. Hyundai
$439
4. Mazda
$460
5. Kia
$422
6. Toyota
$429
7. Acura
$468
Honda and Toyota Top Most Reliable Cars

As one might expect from their strong quality reputation, both Toyota and Honda accounted for several of the most reliable cars in our study. The Toyota Yaris earned the top spot as the most reliable car due to its low cost of ownership and infrequent visits to shops. The popular Honda Civic, CR-V, and Accord helped Honda take the top spot among all brands. The Lexus ES and Acura ILX were the highest rating luxury models, which is unsurprising given they share platforms with the Camry and Civic respectively. Although the Kia Rio was the only Kia vehicle in the top cars, every Kia model ranked 4.0 or better. RepairPal’s Reliability Rating analyzed millions of vehicle repairs for 2010-2017 model year cars to generate our scores, and models without sufficient data were excluded.

Average of all models
$620
Annual Repair Cost
on average

What is the RepairPal Reliability Rating?

The Reliability Rating by RepairPal is a measurement of vehicle dependability based on the cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance. RepairPal combines an extensive proprietary database including millions of vehicle repair invoices with additional automotive statistics and predictive data science to develop the most genuine reliability metric in the industry. Cars included in the Reliability Rating cover 2010-2017 model year vehicles with controls in place to ensure statistical confidence.

The Reliability Rating allows you to research dependability and ownership costs related to unscheduled repairs and maintenance in addition to comparing reliability factors against other vehicles and industry averages.

RepairPal surveyed automotive buyers to understand how they think about reliability during the purchase process. While parents are most concerned with the safety of their children, other consumers focused on the cost of repairs as the critical component of reliability. While costs of ownership such as car payment, insurance, and gas can be easily predicted, it is much harder to anticipate out-of-pocket costs associated with repair and maintenance. Cost is a major factor in our Reliability Rating, and top brands like Honda, Hyundai, and Kia scored well due to their lower costs of ownership. In addition to cost, other components included within the final Reliability Rating include frequency and severity of repairs.

Cost

The average total annual cost for unscheduled repairs and maintenance across all model years of a vehicle. Higher average cost alone does not necessarily mean a vehicle is less reliable. For example, parts and labor for your vehicle may be expensive, especially if it is a European luxury car, but if severe issues and annual average visits to the shop are low, that's a good indicator of a reliable car.

Frequency

The average number of times the vehicle is brought into the shop for unscheduled repairs and maintenance in a single year. This metric is calculated by tracking millions of unique vehicles over multiple years to determine an average number of visits per year for each make and model. Controls were included to omit small routine visits to shops such as for oil changes.

Severity

The severity component to reliability measures the probability that a repair will be a major issue. An issue is considered severe if a repair requires immediate service, is prohibitively expensive, or presents a situation that is potentially dangerous or damaging. RepairPal combines multiple disparate data sets to identify and flag these issues and then rates the severity component for each vehicle relative to that of other models in our database.

Reliability of Most Popular Car Models