Buying a new (or at least new-to-the-buyer) car, truck or utility vehicle often comes down to some pretty basic decisions involving price, reliability, etc. mixed with some more complicated choices such as color, electronics and more.
Ultimately, the final selection boils down to options that involve these two words: most and least.
More precisely, variants of those like “most likely” and “least likely.” Fortunately, if you’re in the market for a vehicle, the researchers at the CarMD website have compiled some rankings based around the “most-least” category that should not only help with the buying process, but also turn up some surprising results.
One category the site put together in its review of analyzing vehicles between 1996 and 2020 was the brand least likely to need check engine light repairs. The winner was a bit of a surprise: Mitsubishi. The Japanese brand that has been barely holding on the U.S. for the last decade edged out Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen for the top spot.
When it comes down to the actual vehicle that will actually need a repair based on the check engine light, the winner was completely expected: the 2018 Toyota Tacoma. The truck carried that category with the 2016–2018 model-year trucks. Vehicle Health Index calculations show that the 2018 Toyota Tacoma is more than 50% less likely to experience a check engine light issue than the worst ranked vehicle.
Avoiding vehicle’s that need repair is generally at or near top of the requirements for vehicle shoppers; however, at some point a car or truck will need service and if the brand that will cost you the least is Kia. The average repair on a Kia is $322 with Chrysler ($333) and Mazda ($339) following closely behind.
On an individual vehicle basis, the 2018 Hyundai Tucson was the least expensive with an average repair bill of just $33.80. The Subaru Impreza at $37.74 and, surprisingly, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE at $39.79 were second and third respectively. Subaru had three vehicles in the top 10 in the category with Hyundai and Mitsubishi sporting two each.
The Tucson likely carried the category, in part, because the repair most often completed was to simply tighten the vehicle’s gas cap. It accounted for nearly half of the “repairs” done to the vehicle during the data period.
CarMD noted the most common repair on all vehicles on this list, accounting for 90% of them, was something similar, which calls for an inspection and potential replacement of a loose, damaged or missing gas cap or fuel cap gasket. Overall, that type of repair covers 4.5% of all automotive repairs nationally.
“Having a reliable vehicle to drive and reducing the likelihood of costly car repairs is particularly important as we wrap up 2020 – a year that has brought many challenges,” said David Rich, CarMD’s technical director.
“CarMD publishes this annual report to help vehicle owners and used car shoppers make better informed buying and service decisions, and to encourage drivers to seek repairs when the check engine light comes on.”
The website analyzed data from more than 19.5 million cars covering the 1996 through 2020 model years. The information used came from reports compiled between Oct. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020.