The folks at MojoMotors.com, after reading an article by talented used car dealer/writer Steven Lang, (more on him later) have determined the 10 most reliable used car brands on the market using mathematical algorithms.
As they say on their blog, "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." The link is to a Wikipedia article that explains what linear regression models are because this author can't explain one to save his life. (The About.com expert on sociology also offers up an explanation of linear regression models.)
But MojoMotors does manage to dumb it down for the non-math students in the audience. "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," the article said.
That last point is worth expounding on. A used car can have minimal book value (i.e. it would probably sell for $500 or less) but its value to the owner can be much more than that if expensive repairs are not required to keep it going. Don't be too quick to trade in a used car just because it's old. As long as it runs well, keep it going.
Before continuing with the list, lets explain a little about Mojo Motors, which has been profiled by the UsedCars.About.com website before. Mojo Motors is a used car vehicle sales aggregator website that offers a new way to buy used cars: guaranteed pricing at a discount available only through a free membership.
Also, Steve Lang was mentioned, too. He is one of UsedCar.About.Com's favorite used car writers because of his skill with a keyboard and his background as a used car dealer and auctioneer. Take a moment to read more about Steve and his excellent work.
Now back to the Top 10 most reliable used brands on the market. One thing to keep in mind is individual used cars within a brand may be more or less reliable. MojoMotors.com looks just at the overall brand. Two brands manage to crack 200,000 miles while a third falls just short. Note that all of the following text was written by MojoMotors.com. Links in brand names are to certified pre-owned information developed by About.com
10. Mazda – 177,729 miles until worthless
Mazda has been known for building economical cars. 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.
9. Acura – 178,947 miles until worthless
It doesn’t hurt that Acura is the luxury brand powered by Honda engineering. It should also be noted that Acura is the only luxury brand to squeak into the top 10 most reliable car brands.
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. This is why you’ll see Sierra pickups with miles well into the hundreds of thousands.
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 10 years are still on the road. Pretty impressive. So are their all wheel drive systems and boxer four cylinder engines.
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. Nisan vehicles, especially their cars, are among the most reliable shoppers can buy.
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.
4. Dodge – 198,266 miles until worthless
Dodge, like Chevrolet, is known more for their pickup trucks than cars. Thanks to the resale value of a Ram pickup, the brand makes it into the top five of this list. Our advice? Stick to a high mileage Ram pickup or Grand Caravan minivan, the same can’t be said about Dodge cars.
(Editor's note: Ram is now a separate division within Chrysler. You may see references to Dodge Ram 1500 and Ram 1500. It's the same truck.)
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 and Fusion midsize, along with Ford’s lineup of crossovers make them the most reliable American automaker on this list. Having the best-selling vehicle in the country, the F150 pickup truck, doesn’t hurt either.
2. Honda – 209,001 miles until worthless
While Dodge and Chevrolet excel at the big trucks, Honda excels at pretty much everything. Look at the ‘miles until worthless’ stat because Honda and Toyota boast a 10,000 mile lead over Ford. If the average driver puts 12,000 miles a year on their car, that 10,000 mile difference is almost an entire year!
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. A Lamborghini it is not, but a cost-effective car it most definitely is.