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The Truth on Why Some Cars Are Reliable and Others Are Not

A Toyota expert reveals the truth behind why some cars are reliable and others are not by explaining four categories that indicate which car is expected to be the more reliable model (or not) and why.

We’ve all heard that Toyota makes the most reliable vehicles, but what if you do not want a Toyota or find that the model you are interested in is too expensive? For example, can a model from Honda be a good alternative choice for a reliable and less expensive car?

The short answer is “Yes.”

However, you need to know why it is that not just brands―but models within the car brands―are more reliable than others.

Related article: Ford Engineers Have Lost Their Minds Says This Mechanic

Why Some Cars Are Reliable and Others Are Not

In a recent Car Care Nut YouTube channel episode, the host―an established expert on Toyota repairs―goes over four categories he explains that affect just how reliable (or not) a car will be based on his years of experience and the trends he has observed toward predicting whether a new model will turn out to be reliable.

Follow along with the host in the video posted below and discover the four categories that affect car reliability and what it means to a new car shopper.

Summary of What Makes One Car Model More Reliable Over Another

In case you do not have the time to watch the video, here is a summary of what you need to know to hedge your bet that a new model will be reliable and/or meet your other needs before deciding to buy it.

Category #1: Long Term Cars at a Cost (Toyotas and Hondas)

Car makers with a strong reputation of making reliable models achieve this reputation by:

  • Sticking with what has worked in the past and is proven to be reliable.
  • Being the last when it comes to new innovations and features.
  • Avoiding trends in the automotive industry.
  • Introducing changes in not one line but all lines at the same time with the same engine after doing design research that shows what is new that does work and works better than before, and is better than their competition who adopted the features earlier.

The Pros of this Category of Model: The culmination of these points is that their cars wind up excelling over other models due to higher quality parts and suppliers are used along with better manufacturing to ensure they get it right the first time their new models hit the dealerships.

The Con of this Category of Model: The cons to this are that it means those models will be more expensive and so will their eventual repairs down the road. In addition, a conservative approach means that their new models will not be as flashy as their competition’s models which shoppers typically find attractive in a new car.

This category of cars is especially popular with car shoppers who do not know anything about cars except that they want one that is proven to be reliable and will not lead to expensive repairs afterward.

Category #2: Exciting and Innovative Cars at a Cost (Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, and VW)

These manufacturer models are the ones that offer the latest and the greatest in new technologies that attract a wide range of car consumers based on their coolness factor. In short, we are talking about luxury models and sport model cars.

The Pros of this Category of Model:

  • It feels great―like riding in a spaceship.
  • Enjoyable features that add to your riding and handling experiences.

The Cons of this Category of Model:

  • Overly complicated design to make “The Pros” listed above possible.
  • Parts and suppliers are budgeted on the cheap side of quality.
  • These cars do not last long and when repairs are needed, they are “astronomical” according to the host.

Car shoppers tend to be younger and more into the new tech cars. However, these car shoppers/owners are savvy and know that after 3 years it is time to pass their future problem car onto an unsuspecting buyer looking for a great deal on a popular model.

Category #3: The Mid-Grade Cars at a Cost (Hyundai, KIA, and Genesis)

These are the middle-of-the-road manufacturers who try to straddle a fine fence between what is conservative and works, and what is new and exciting.

Their models will not be as reliable as the most reliable cars, nor have all of the new tech and flash of the Category#2 models, but what it does provide that others cannot is value when it comes to new car shopping and wanting a combination of some reliability and some flash.

“Their prices are somewhere in the middle,” states the host pointing out that this is why these maker’s models are popular right now.

The Pros of this Category of Model: Long warranties are the norm to reassure and attract shoppers.

The Cons of this Category of Model: Neither the best nor the worst of models, making it a tougher decision.

Car shoppers of these models do not typically keep their vehicles for the short or long term, but instead more within the middle and are ready to buy a new model once they feel bored by it and want something new and fresh.

Category #4: Cost Over Everything Except Function (GM, Ford, and Stellantis)

These manufacturers focus on keeping costs down for the consumer with a functional car that will last just a few years.

The Pros of this category of model: The price of the car will be cheaper than the other manufacturers and their focus with each model is its particular function that covers the needs of the individual consumer.

The Cons of this Category of Model: Expect repairs often, but not as expensive as the higher end- and more-reliable models. Their cost does not match their true dollar value; however, their functional value (such as with trucks) provides the consumer with what they need at a still affordable price.

Car and truck shoppers of these models tend to brand loyalists and consumers who want a function-specific vehicle with the understanding it may not last them over the long term.

Why Are Some Cars Reliable?


For additional recent articles related to reliable cars, here are a few for your consideration:

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

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