Each year, CarMD releases its Vehicle Health Index, ranking reliability and repair costs among different automakers and models. The results of this study can shed light on everything from auto repair
costs to the most frequent engine-related problems, giving drivers an idea of which cars provide peace of mind on the roads.
What the Vehicle Health Index says
To get its results, the index looked at more than 40,000 repairs made from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 20, 2014. All of the vehicle maintenance
was performed on models produced from 2004 to 2014. It also examined the average cost of these repairs as well as what triggered the check engine alert.
"While this index is based on in-use vehicle repairs
needed over the past year, it has also proven to be a useful tool in helping car and truck shoppers make informed decisions about the vehicles they are considering," said Doug Sobieski, chief marketing officer for CarMD.
According to the index, the manufacturer with the fewest reported repairs was Honda. It was closely followed by last year's winner, Hyundai. Rounding out the top five was Toyota, General Motors and Ford. Other popular brands, such as Chrysler, Kia and Nissan, were also among the top 10.
Although Honda was the most reliable brand, none of its models claimed the No. 1 spot as the most reliable vehicle. That honor went to the 2012 Toyota Camry retaining its crown. Toyota had an impressive five vehicles land in the index's top 10, with the 2011 Camry, 2010 Prius and 2010 Corolla. Honda did claim the second slot with the 2012 Civic, however, and the 2012 Hyundai Sonata and 2013 Sonata also landed in the top five.
Watch out for certain repairs
The index revealed that a few types of car repair
were responsible for many of the incidents. For instance, the most common reason the check engine light
came on was because the oxygen sensor needed to be replaced. However, that's not necessarily true across all car brands.
According to the report, nearly 20 percent of all Subaru repairs consisted of replacing the catalytic converter, while 18 percent of Lincoln models needed the ignition coils replaced. The oxygen sensor was responsible for more than 17 percent of Mitsubishi repairs and 14 percent of Hyundai alerts, though.
These different types of fixes may have contributed to the wide range of average repair costs. The top 10 reliable manufacturers varied from a low point of $302.92 for Mazda to Toyota's peak of $486.93. Most brands found themselves toward the lower end of the spectrum, however. Both Chrysler and Hyundai were within a few dollars of Mazda, while only Nissan was in the $400-range with Toyota.
Brush up on your knowledge
So what does all of this information mean for drivers? For starters, it could be useful for those who are searching for new or used cars. Some people cringe when they see the check engine light on
, and they may want to take a closer look at the most reliable vehicles. Others could be concerned with expenses, which makes finding models with average repair costs on the lower end of the spectrum a priority.
Ultimately, those drivers who build a good relationship with a local auto repair franchise
can avoid many of the obstacles that go along with car ownership. For example, the right facility will keep track of a vehicle's service history and may even set up an easy maintenance schedule for you to follow. That makes it easy to keep up with preventative maintenance, saving you time and money in the long run.