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Used-car reliability

More vehicles are problem free

Consumer Reports magazine: April 2012

Buying a used car becomes less of a gamble with every passing year. Even the least reliable carmakers are gaining ground on the perennial reliability leaders, Toyota and Honda. Volvo has made the most dramatic improvement over the past decade, but almost all automakers have improved their products in recent years.

Those conclusions are based on a comparison of problem-free three-year-old models in our 2002 and 2011 Annual Auto Surveys.

For each automaker, we calculated the percentage of its product output for which owners did not report any serious problems with their cars during the 12 months covered by each survey.

We chose three-year-old models because that’s the point at which most vehicles come off warranty and the owner begins to assume the cost of ongoing repairs. By age three, most models also have the steepest part of depreciation behind them, so used-car buyers will find that’s a good age on which to focus.

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