Which cars have the most problems?

IT would be interesting to figure out a way to analyse all the posts to CarTalk in order to see which cars are most or least likely to cause an owner to post here. Obviously, raw numbers aren’t helpful, because some cars are much, much more popular than others, so the likelihood of a problem is greater, even if the car is relatively reliable.

This thought came to me when I was struck by the idea that there have been very few Miata posts for a car with a history of a million units over 24 years.

It’s difficult to draw conclusions for various reasons as you mentioned. The Miata for example has a strong following and there are numerous groups specific to that car so probably fewer people posting on a general car forum like this one. Same would be true for Corvettes- more of an enthusiast car and so more likely to engage in a group specific to them.

The best I have had is Acura. Then my Gm cars have had few actual problems. Never owned a ford but had a Lincoln and folks had mercury. Not a whole lot of problems but older cars will have them no matter what. Up until about 1966, Chrysler would have been in the trouble free group but now are the worst.

I doubt if using the questions posted here would give much of an idea of a brands year or model dependability . Just too many people don’t understand regular service , what oil to use or even what tire pressure they should have .


Even the survey’s that Consumer Reports does can result in a sample of how reliable a vehicle is, How well maintained a particular vehicle is can make a difference even on brands considered to be less reliable.

We’ve had better luck using independent shops that are familiar with that brand of vehicle and see enough of them to know the common problems and what can be done to try to prevent them such as changing “lifetime” fluids and checking the car stem to stern on a regular basis. After owning a 88 Grand Voyager and the 1973 Volvo 144 before that from '86-'88 required repairs on a more constant basis and more expensive breakdowns compared to the Japanese brands in the family.

Older brother has a '09 GTI and a 2006 Legacy wagon that have been maintained by an obsessive specialist shop where he lives since day one and they have been reliable but if anything over maintained compared to what the manual calls for.

I worked for a shop owner that was a lifetime mechanic. He was the best I knew, and he loved to teach younger guys the trade. Everytime a customer or anybody asked what his favorite car was, he would just answer “they’re all junk”.


Before I bought my 1998 Buick Regal I checked the Consumer Reports reliability survey results. The repair category results were better than the Camry’s but their overall rating was top rating for the Camry and average for the Regal. It looked like a clear case of prejudice to me.


You made me think- a mechanic that makes a living fixing cars is probably not going to tell anyone which cars are the most reliable :wink: Plus, he never sees them so I guess he might know by omission!

1 Like

Consumer Reports rated the Toyota Corolla higher for reliability and build quality than the Chevy Geo Prizm way back in the day. The Prizm was a Corolla with a Chevy badge built in the same plant in Freemont California with nearly every component the same as the Corolla. Just minor trim differences.


In 2007-2010 the domestic smaller fuel efficient cash for clunkers qualifying vehicles seemed to have gotten worse in preparation for cash for clunkers. Lots of good quality 90s vehicles were scrapped and replaced with throw away fuel efficient vehicles.

FORD Fix Or Repair Daily!
I have not been impressed with the 2007-2012 or mostly 2010-2012 Ford Fusion. I went to a shop and there new coil springs for guess what? A 2012 Fusion with broken springs. He said the parts alone were about $200. The transmission cooler lines rust out in 15 years if not removed and painted to prevent this. The electric power steering was a disaster. I’ve been working on one. The battery to chassis ground connection failed and it broke down due to that. The HS CAN bus wire in the harness broke somewhere and it wouldn’t start. The front is all plastic and gets damaged easily. The catalytic converter has a fault code after 170k miles or maybe the failing chassis ground caused that. The transmission drain plug is a regular pipe plug that sticks out the bottom. The engine and ttransmission sit an inch below the sub frame. If you drive over something that transmission plug will break off and damage the aluminum transmission. THERE IS NO PAN ON THE BOTTOM TO REPLACE. You can’t remove the pan to clean sediment nor chage the fluid nor fix a broken drain plug. The hook latch is freezing up already and the hood needs help to be closed. There is a bunch of noise reducing foam behind the front wheels which is exposed to salt water and traps salt water. This may be a future rust trap. The window regulators are especially difficult to replace. The door side impact beam is flimsy. The inside door handle has broken already. The outdoor air temperature is showing -40F and the AC won’t turn on. The plastic fasteners for the trim pieces at the bottom corners of the windshield have been UV damaged and new fasterns must be purchased after less than 10 years. The upper fender support stops slightly forward of the strut towers. Older cars used to extend forward to the upper radiator support which used to be metal. Seems this would make the small overlap crash performance even worse than older cars. Be we don’t know since the 2012 and older will never be tested (2013 was a redesign). Both front ABS sensors are failed. The ABS unit has been replaced already. It has to be VIN matched to the rest of the car with special software. The wiring harness going to the cabin fan has melted at the fan and speed controller connectors. Apparently this is caused by a failing fan which draws too much current. It’s a huge problem on Focus and Fusion. They use a huge 35 or 40 Amp fuse for the cabin fan which apparently won’t blow to protect the wiring harness.

2007-2012 Fusion, or at least 2010-2012 is a terrible car. 2010 was partial redesign using the same chassis.

Consumer Reports is the only widely-available survey of car reliability that provides detailed info on all makes and models. It certainly has some limitations. Differences between otherwise similar cars probably result from either data limitations or differences in the maintenance and driving habits of the folks that buy one brand vs another. I don’t buy the ‘bias’ claims. I have no reason to doubt they’re reporting the data.


Lots of good points here. It’s hard to imagine how so many people have absolutely no clue what’s going on inside their car, and ignore the car completely. Zero maintenance, zero inspections. My first thought was based on the question of why we so rarely see questions about Miatas, but of course if the owners tend to be more involved with their cars they probably either deal with them themselves of at least know where to turn. This forum attracts people who rarely think about their cars, except to complain when they don’t work properly. Kind of like how people regard refrigerators.

It can be fascinating, and it can drive me crazy.

Similar to the Prizm/Corolla conundrum, CR sometimes reported differences in reliability between the mechanically-identical Ford Crown Vic and Mercury Grand Marquis models. The difference in the core customer base for those two models could have accounted for differences in driving habits and/or maintenance.

1 Like

Just have never found cr very useful. I just fail to see the benefit of their paint, appliance, computer, etc, recommendations. They seem to focus a lot on vitamins and health care now but I quit them maybe ten years ago. They really warned about the g6 but over 150,000 miles has been one of the best cars I’ve owned. Sure, a sample of one, but on the one hand you talk about how clueless owners are, but on the other hand rely on their reports to cr. I’ve noticed the same thing on customer tire reviews. Really though I get better information from local tire, appliance, computer, painters, etc.

Maybe a college student will take this up as a challenge. Issue a report which make/model/years are the subject of more than the expected number of posts here, and which are fewer than expected. I’d guess the results may not be specific to make & model. The cars with more than expected topics will be the ones with the more complicated designs, turbo engines, fancy infotainment, mod-cons. The least probably have smaller non-turbo 4 banger engines & manual transmissions. But those could be the same make & model, just different options.

1 Like

How do explain modern cars being me reliable than cars 40 years ago? And how some ‘complex’ car brands are more reliable than simpler brands? And how will anyone figure out what’s “expected “ for repairs for a given model?

1 Like

How about this formula? If Corolla’s are 10% of the cars on the road, then 10% of the topics posted here (about problems with a specific car) would be expected to be about Corollas.

One thing is certain, ABS module repair is seldom needed on a 66 Dodge Dart.

For example?

A car that has some major issues and costs $1500 in repairs within the first 20k miles, but is then fine after that may get a very bad rating on CR. Another car that falls apart beyond repair and is sent to the junk yard at 150k miles will have an excellent rating on CR.

I think it was his way of saying everything breaks eventually and even the best model has flukes and problems. He also doesn’t not have the patience to listen to people argue on which brand is better. Many people are loyal to their brand whether they’re right or wrong. So he just avoids debates this way.

I’m not sure who he is. My 74 olds had a transmission problem at 20,000 but the warranty covered it. Sold it at 240,000.

I think my main point was that the general general public may not be the best judge of problems and reliability. Folks with ten thumbs might consider a rattle or loose trim panel a major issue and others of us would just fix it. In other words the reporters are unreliable.

1 Like