Most reliable car brands

There was a great article published by Motoramic about the most reliable car brands which you can read here. The author determined the most reliable automotive brands by looking at almost 350,000 appraisals performed by “professional car buyers who are trained to detect mechanical and structural issues” with no biases. The study is beneficial because most reliability studies are on new cars within the first 90 days. Longer term reliability studies don’t usually go beyond three to five years.

200000 miles odometer

We wanted to come up with our own algorithm to determine reliability and see if our findings matched Motoramic. We analyzed over 500,000 cars, model years 1995 to 2014, listed for sale on to determine the average selling price depending on a vehicle’s mileage. Using a linear regression model, we were able to calculate the dollars of value lost as mileage increased and ultimately, the number of miles until a car lost all value.

In other words, we found out how much mileage could be racked up before a car became valueless. Less reliable brands will lose value quicker since they have a greater chance of breaking down with fewer miles on the odometer. Make sense? One thing to remember – just because a car is considered valueless beyond a certain number of miles in this study doesn’t mean it won’t drive for another 100,000 miles.

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10. Mazda – 177,729 miles until worthless

Mazda has been known for building economical cars, but they’ve had some miss-steps along the way. The rotary-powerd Mazda RX-8, as brilliant as it may be on the track, is known for being especially finicky, requiring extensive maintenance to keep in running order. Older models like the Mazda 626 suffered from transmission issues and overall poor build quality. Luckily, Mazda has made great strides in improving their reliability to become a major contender in the US market. Their lineup has expanded in the last few years as they now offer compact, midsize and full size crossovers that have fared well in reviews. Stick to bread-and-butter models like the Mazda 3, 6, CX series and you’ll have reliable transportation for years to come. Go here to learn more about the different used Mazda models and reviews.

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9. Acura – 178,947 miles until worthless

It doesn’t hurt that Acura is the luxury brand powered by Honda engineering. The Acura CL, a luxury coupe sold from 2001 to 2003, was essentially a dressed-up Honda Accord, one of the most followed cars on Mojo Motors. Newer staples in the Acura lineup like the TL sedan and MDX crossover have proven to be the most reliable luxury vehicles around.  It should also be noted that Acura is the only luxury brand to squeak into the top ten most reliable car brands. But if Acura is not quite your style, Lexus is another great way to get the luxury experience without having to live with German reliability. For further reading, read reviews of used Acuras here.

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8. GMC – 188,584 miles until worthless

GMC has been building quality pickups, SUVs and crossovers a very long time. Since GMC splits many parts with Chevrolet, repairs aren’t usually too expensive. In fact, the new GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Suburban are nearly identical, save for cosmetic differences. When problems do arise, they’re usually of the non-catastrophic nature, and the engine and drivetrain are solid. This is why you’ll see Sierra pickups with miles well into the hundreds of thousands.Pickup trucks don’t live an easy life, but these heavy duty trucks can take the abuse. Read more here for used GMC reviews and research.

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7. Subaru – 189,370 miles until worthless

It isn’t too surprising Subaru is on this list. According to Polk’s auto data, 95% of Subarus sold in the last ten years are still on the road. Pretty impressive. Even more impressive are their all wheel drive systems and boxer four cylinder engines, which are fuel-efficient for daily driving but deliver excellent traction when the road ahead is covered in snow. Most popular models for Subaru are the Outback station wagon and Forester crossover. The only model we would steer clear of is the Subaru Tribeca, which is loathed by critics for poor fuel-efficiency, sluggish acceleration and overall bad design. But don’t let one bad egg spoil the batch, Subaru makes some of the most dependable cars on the road. For additional Subaru reading material including Subbie reviews and different models, go here.

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6. Nissan – 195,593 miles until worthless

Nissan is consistently one of the most Followed brands on Mojo Motors, but they usually aren’t perceived as being one of the most reliable brands on the road. They should be. Nissan vehicles, especially their cars, are among the most reliable shoppers can buy. Unlike Honda and Toyota, Nissan isn’t afraid to delve into the high-performance market. The Nissan Maxima may seem like a benign family sedan, but it sports a big V6 under the hood that puts out nearly 300 horsepower. There’s also the brawny Nissan 370Z which is perhaps the most reliable sports cars money can buy. Nissan doesn’t shy away from new technology either. They began putting CVT transmissions in their Altima sedan back in 2007 which helped the technology gain mainstream popularity. CVT transmissions from other car companies experienced problems in the early days, but Nissan’s didn’t. Learn more about the best Nissan rides and read reviews here.

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5. Chevrolet – 195,754 miles until worthless

If you’re a prisoner of the present, you might think Chevrolet is anything but reliable. Ahem. Recalls aside, the last few generations of automobiles built by Chevrolet are their best ever. Especially Chevy pickups, SUVs and crossovers. But even Chevrolet’s budget-minded cars, like the Chevrolet Sonic, are enjoying excellent reliability. That’s important because the Sonic has to  compete with other low-priced hatchbacks like the bullet-proof Toyota Yaris. We would advise skipping over Chevrolets from the early-to-mid 2000’s, when build quality was spotty at best. However, that doesn’t include the Silverado pickups or any of their full-size SUVs, which were always high-rated.  For reviews and research on a variety of Chevrolet vehicles, keep reading here.

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4. Dodge – 198,266 miles until worthless

Dodge, like Chevrolet and GMC, is known more for their pickup trucks than cars. Thanks to the resale value of a Ram line of pickups, the brand makes it into the top five of this list. Our advice? Stick to a high mileage Ram pickup or Grand Caravan minivan, which have been known to take a beating and keep on going. Particularly, Ram trucks with Cummins diesel engines are renown for bullet-proof reliability and longevity, often going well passed 200,000 miles. The same can’t be said about Dodge cars like the Avenger and the Caliber, which suffered from awful quality interiors and reliability problems. Dodge never seemed able to recreate the magic from the classic K-cars. Go here for reviews of popular used Dodge cars and trucks.

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3. Ford – 198,409 miles until worthless

Unlike other American automakers, say Dodge or Chevrolet, Ford has both reliable trucks AND cars. The Ford Focus compact has transformed from a frail econobox to a reliable, attractive and totally-respectable hatchback. The Fusion and Fusion Hybrid midsize sedan is good enough to go toe-to-toe with heavyweights like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and perhaps even beat them in overall value. Tack on Ford’s rich history of building high quality full-size SUVs and crossovers and it’s clear to see how Ford made this list. Having the best-selling vehicle in the country, the F150 pickup truck, doesn’t hurt either. Learn more about used Ford vehicles here.

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2. Honda – 209,001 miles until worthless

Honda’s bread and butter lies in making dependable, fuel efficient and extremely sensible family cars. We recommend the Honda Civic as one of the best cars for students because of its miserly fuel economy and low maintenance costs. The Accord is one of the best used cars for families because of its excellent value, spacious interior and generous assortment of features. Almost every Honda model has excellent resale value because consumers know they’re built to last. Look at the ‘miles until worthless’ stat because Honda and Toyota boast a 10,000 mile lead over the nearest competitor, Ford. If the average driver puts 12,000 miles a year on their car, that 10,000 mile difference is almost an entire year! For reviews and research on used Honda vehicles, keep reading here.

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1. Toyota – 210,705 miles until worthless

The public perceives Toyota as one of the most reliable automakers and our study concurs with this perception. While Toyota might not build the most eye-catching cars, they are certainly reliable and efficient. Take the Corolla for instance, which routinely ranks as one of the best selling cars in the US and one of the high mileage cars we think you should buy. Then there’s the Tacoma, which is the most popular small truck in the US thanks to its fuel-efficiency, practicality and dependability. A Lamborghini it is not, but a cost-effective car it most definitely is. If you’re looking for something more opulent than a Toyota but with similar reliability, check out Lexus. Keep reading for reviews, research and pictures of the best used Toyotas.

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Graph of How Toyota Depreciates OvertimePlease note that while this data is a great way to understand how vehicle prices correlate to reliability, no study of used car reliability and its value is perfect. This is a make-specific study, not a breakdown of models, trims or years. There can be a large variation between each model’s trims and there are many factors that go into the price of a car. Things like color, options, warranties and whether a car is a certified pre owned or not all greatly affect a cars valuation. Our study did not account for these variances. For the ten least reliable brands, see this.

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Written by Max Katsarelas & Michael Milstein
Photo credits: Snapshots