Seeking Alpha

Getting a great deal on a car is one thing, but keeping it running is another. So which cars are...

Getting a great deal on a car is one thing, but keeping it running is another. So which cars are cheapest to maintain? Toyota (TM) gets the top spot for reliability, followed by Hyundai (HYMLF.PK), according to CarMD, which collects repair data from its network of 3,000 U.S. mechanics. Rounding out the top five: Honda (HMC), Ford (F), GM.
From other sites
Comments (6)
  • acesfull
    , contributor
    Comments (368) | Send Message
     
    And so we're back to Asian cars being superior in quality to American cars? I thought we got past this a year or two ago when Toyota vehicles started coming up with one disasterous defect after another. And Ford began improving the quality of their cars until, lo and behold, American cars achieved equal quality status against the Asian cars. And now, according to the above article, Asian cars are superior again. So who do we believe this time around? Maybe CarMD would be better served to skip the sampling of car mechanics and let the marketplace decide. Afterall, if they picked another 3000 mechanics a week later and asked the same questions, they might end up with a totally different result. I'm just saying.
    16 Nov 2011, 06:30 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (4902) | Send Message
     
    The CarMD study was not a comprehensive report on all repairs claims, sorted by manufacturer.

     

    The question was to determine the average cost to resolve a "check engine" light when the customer brought the car in for repairs. Most repair locations charge a basic fee to run the diagnostic software to find the code or codes that tripped the fault, and then more fees to repair or replace faulty engine parts. Some fault codes are as simple as a loose gas cap, or as complex as ignition or fuel system failure.

     

    In any case, the cost to repair is whatever the mechanic charges to fix whatever he said needed to be fixed. The automakers don't do repairs: independent dealerships and repairs shops do it, and the automakers are ultimately at the mercy of those places to do the right thing. Of course there is a huge incentive to find as many things wrong with the car as possible, so the automakers pay out huge warranty fees to dealerships, and customers pay out of pocket.

     

    Anyway the results showed a comparative repair index for a "check engine" fault, by automaker. If the average repair was $100, then:

     

    Toyota: $67
    Hyundai: $85
    Honda: $89
    Ford: $95
    GM: $97
    Mitsubishi: $103
    Nissan: $104
    Kia: $116
    VW: $138
    Chrysler: $197

     

    Clearly there is a cluster of companies huddled close to the average, with some outliers at both ends, with Toyota on the low side, and VW and especially Chrysler on the other.

     

    Toyota might well be a special cause at the very low end. For one thing there might be a very strong sense of scrutiny and oversight over warranty claims at dealerships, and perhaps there is a reward system for keeping warranty repairs to an absolute minimum. It can also be noted that apparently few to none of the highly publicized accelerator pedal and throttle control problems spawned a "check engine" light situation, along with the majority of other defects (steering, etc.). So it may be that a lot of the Toyota "check engine" issues covered by the study were loose gas caps, with a lot of $60 fees to find it and fix it, while the other, more costly repairs to other systems were not covered in the study.

     

    Ford and the other automakers on the other hand maybe actually had to replace the spark plugs or a filter or change the transmission fluid to fix the ailment. Ford and GM quality has improved steadily over the last decade, to essentially tie with Honda, and the results show it.

     

    Chrysler at the other end almost undoubtedly reflects the major slump in quality seen during the last several years. Only in the last couple of years has Chrysler started to get some credit for initial quality. Volkswagen has also been at the bottom of quality surveys for a great many years. Hyundai used to be at the bottom, but set out to dramatically improve quality some years ago, and the results certainly show it.
    17 Nov 2011, 08:12 PM Reply Like
  • acesfull
    , contributor
    Comments (368) | Send Message
     
    The point of the article is that it's cheaper to keep a Toyota running and therefore more reliable and over time negates the advantages of getting a great deal from other manufacturers. And that conclusion comes from a sampling of 3000 mechanics who seem to think so. And all I'm telling you is that the sampling is subjective and could be interpreted to favor a specific carmaker. Your post was interesting but full of conjecture and assumptions. You know we went for a decade with the media praising the quality of Toyota vehicles, until we found their data was not as forthcoming as it should have been, and then experiencing a couple of recent years with disasturous quality issues. I don't want to see a rebirth of that kind of propaganda. And I'm sure you don't either.
    18 Nov 2011, 09:42 AM Reply Like
  • Tdot
    , contributor
    Comments (4902) | Send Message
     
    No disagreement here. You have to deep dive into the "data" and casual remarks at the original article to try to discern the truth of the matter. There is a lot of reading between the lines.

     

    The study only looked at "check engine" repairs, so the Toyotas in the survey could have just as easily been disintegrating into dust immediately after the scheduled (free?) 5000 mile oil change, but if the "check engine" light did not come on, then those extra expensive repairs would not have counted in the results. Which is a bit of a flaw in the study, in that it does not necessarily reflect or support the "cheaper to keep a Toyota running" hypothesis.

     

    One remembers not so long ago where changing out a burned out tail lamp on a Toyota (or any Japanese made vehicle) was a $200 repair job, and a wait of a couple of weeks or more for the parts to arrive from Japan on the ship.
    18 Nov 2011, 11:55 AM Reply Like
  • acesfull
    , contributor
    Comments (368) | Send Message
     
    Tdot, thanks for your posts. I found them very interesting and informative. Enjoy the upcoming holidays.
    19 Nov 2011, 06:26 AM Reply Like
  • jimmygt
    , contributor
    Comments (22) | Send Message
     
    toyota is not the car it was i think that ford and gm is a better car and usa and canadian made ho ho ho
    27 Nov 2011, 07:33 PM Reply Like
DJIA (DIA) S&P 500 (SPY)
ETF Hub
ETF Screener: Search and filter by asset class, strategy, theme, performance, yield, and much more
ETF Performance: View ETF performance across key asset classes and investing themes
ETF Investing Guide: Learn how to build and manage a well-diversified, low cost ETF portfolio
ETF Selector: An explanation of how to select and use ETFs