How healthy is your vehicle? Here’s what the doctor says


The doctor is in …

Which is a good thing if you vehicle’s “check engine” light is glowing.

But you may be less likely to spend a lot on a doctor (car repairs) if you drive a Toyota, Ford or Honda, according to website CarMD’s annual Vehicle Health Index Study.

Combined, those three brands placed 42 vehicles among the best 100 in repair frequency and costs on model years 1996-2015 needing repairs between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015. That number rises to 50 – half the field – when you count Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus and Honda’s Acura brand.

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In fact, Toyota and Lexus brands captured the top four places in CarMD’s rankings with the 2015 Toyota Corolla, 2013 Lexus ES, 2014 Toyota Prius and 2014 Toyota Avalon, while Honda and Ford each captured one top-10 spot, with the 2013 Fit at No. 5 and 2014 Edge at No. 8, respectively.

“CarMD recognizes that car maintenance and repairs are part of car ownership and reports on these findings to help consumers identify the vehicles with lower upkeep,” said the study’s introduction.

Hyundai, meanwhile, scored the lowest overall brand rating – i.e., highest ranking – in the study, with Toyota, Honda, Ford and Chrysler rounding out the top 5. Hyundai, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler each gained a position in the study’s year-over-year comparison.

Ford had the lowest average repair cost among the top 10 manufacturers ($310), followed by Hyundai ($316), Chrysler ($317), Mazda ($335) and General Motors ($340).

“Unlike other industry reports and rankings that rely on subjective data, this is the only index to offer an annual ranking of manufacturers and vehicles using statistically based ‘check engine’ related failures and repair costs,” CarMD explained in the Vehicle Health Index study introduction.

The rankings are based on a combined average rating of fewest “check engine” related problems and lowest repair costs for vehicles needing repairs over the past year, said CarMD, which provides repair data and analysis to consumers and the auto industry aimed at lowering vehicle ownership costs.

The Vehicle Health Index also provides brand-by-brand details on why each of the top 10 automakers were rated and ranked as they were and lists the three most-reliable vehicles in each of nine categories from compact car to truck, SUV and minivan. The study included electric vehicles for the first time this year, with the 2013 Ford C-Max (No. 33), 2014 Nissan Leaf (No. 50) and 2014 C-Max (No. 82).

More study results are available in CarMD’s online report.