Some Ford Cars Are Reliable, Actually Worth Buying

Several Ford cars are among the world’s most reliable vehicles, according to the latest annual car reliability survey from Consumer Reports.

The survey found that the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan both had higher reliability ratings than the Japanese-made Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, ranking only below the Prius in the family sedan category. The Ford Flex SUV was also highly ranked.

As for the rest of Detroit, fewer than half of GM’s models received average reliability scores, although the Chevy Malibu was rated better than average, and the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 were recommended. Chrysler also didn’t do so hot, with over a third of their cars being rated much worse than average.

Overall, the least reliable vehicle was the Volkswagen Touareg, which was 27 times more likely to have problems than the most reliable vehicle, the Honda Insight.

More information is available at the Consumer Reports Cars blog.
(Photo: ibeamee)

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  1. giggitygoo says:

    This is good to see. However, Ford will need to put up good reliability numbers for a few years in a row before the loyal Japanese car buyers will start to consider one for their next purchase.

    • dohtem says:

      @giggitygoo: I think they finally realize that. I am happy for Ford. Hopefully they keep this momentum.

    • Paladin_11 says:

      @giggitygoo: They already have. Check the CR reliability data for the past 5 years. Notice the trend?

      • xenth says:

        @Paladin_11: Yeah thats fine for the first 5 when I expect everything to be perfect. What about at 10+ years?

        • Paladin_11 says:

          @xenth: What about 10 years? No model car is exactly the same after 10 years, so you can’t judge any of them by that criterion. Only by the trends the manufacturer sets. Most cars go through a major remodel every 4 to 5 years, so even though it has the same name it’s an entirely different car. And they can have totally different reliability ratings. A 2006 Toyota Camry is not the same as a 2007 Toyota Camry, and there’s no reason to believe that the 2007 model will perform in the same manner as the car with the same name that was built from 2002-2006. Oh, but Toyota makes good cars you say? Not always. You’re making that assumption because on average, over time, they’ve mostly made good cars. Over the past 5 years or so (longer really) Ford has been too. The trend is the same, and CR’s data suggests that they’ve sometimes surpassed Toyota as well.

        • j-o-h-n says:

          @xenth: Well, my ’98 F150 is still doing the job and the only real repairs have been a power steering pump that ingested sand 4-wheeling in deep sand, and a power-window motor that gave up last year.
          YMMV

    • Stephmo says:

      @giggitygoo: I dunno, I’m shortlisting cars right now and it’s looking like this:

      Ford Fusion
      Chevrolet Malibu
      Honda Accord
      Volkswagon Jetta Disel

      The Camry got booted from the shortlist for basically not making the value for the price and current deals. Basically, all the Toyta dealers in town are relying on the Toyota financing deals and have no real pricing deals. Everyone else is doing pricing and financing – and has much better deals on options and accessories. Toyota gets kind of stupid expensive once you actually want nicer options.

      The Fusion is sort of ridiculously appointed for the price.

  2. The Porkchop Express says:

    Found on road deligently? nah, that ain’t right.

  3. Jeff-er-ee says:

    I’ve heard that the Japanese car quality and reliability has been dropping in recent years too. The Accord in particular has been the focus of a few reliability issues, including its brakes. I wonder if that has anything to do with Ford’s rise in ratings with respect to other brands.

  4. Falcon5768 says:

    Wait the most reliable car was the Honda Insight?

    Really?

    The same Honda Insight that is getting trounced back and forth in the car blogs for its reliability problems right out the door?

    The same Honda Insight thats reported to be selling like utter crap?

    /sigh yeah CR isnt biased to Honda my ass.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Falcon5768: I haven’t read about any reliability problems. JD Power and Associates gave the 2010 Insight a reliability rating of 8 out of 10.

    • thezone says:

      @Falcon5768: Right, CR who takes no advertising money is biased towards a company. And the proof is the unbiased reporting from bloggers. And your last bit of proof is the car isn’t selling well. Quality and sales do not always go hand in hand.

    • cmdrsass says:

      @Falcon5768: There’s always some yahoo who thinks CR is biased for or against their pet brand.

    • corbyz says:

      @Falcon5768: Despite being the most reliable, CR does not recommend the Honda Insight because it scored too low in their tests. So I don’t see how you can accuse them of bias here.

      That being said, I have a new Honda Insight and love it. I’m easy to please… it doesn’t break down, it has a good stereo and speakers, ipod hook up, good mileage, and it’s still fun to drive if you know how to have fun with it.

      My previous car was a Civic and when I started driving the Insight it felt slow to me, but after I got used to how it accelerates, I learned how to have fun and enjoy it. I had the same issue when I went from my 98 V6 Grand Am to my Civic. Coming out of a stop light, I’m still always the first car up to speed, even if I’m not trying to be speedy. It’s also feels very responsive when steering, so I like it.

      Just my own personal experiences though.

  5. citking says:

    All I know is the Plymouth Reliant was anything but. That was the worst car I think my dad ever owned.

    Fun fact: When the gas gauge fuse blows did you know it sends the needle up to the Full position on this car? Dad thought I filled it up. I thought he did. It was almost the shortest family vacation on record.

    • Etoiles says:

      @citking: Haha, we had the Dodge Aries (the Plymouth Reliant with a different name on it). It was an ’88 and since it was still roadworthy (for certain values of roadworthy) when I was 17 and got my license in ’98 my parents let me have it. That thing made the strangest chorus of noises of any car ever before or since…

    • rorschachex says:

      @citking: Oh the K cars… my mom had an ’86 Reliant. Oh I remember that car… good riddance.

    • PølάrβǽЯ says:

      @citking: If your gas gauge fuse is blowing, you have bigger problems than who last filled it up, my friend.

    • lmarconi says:

      @citking: My dad has a 1989 Ford Ranger that’s still going – I wouldn’t drive it very far or on the highway, but it runs, despite occasionally being a home for various wild animals and a crapload of rust.

      I had a 1998 Ford Contour until recently, when it crapped out. But I hope they’re not mistaking running for reliability. Mine ran with little repair for years and it took a beating without crapping out but it had lots of little problems for years – warning lights on randomly, certain functions not working at certain times, etc etc

      • Nick1693 says:

        @lmarconi: My dad has a 98 Contour and we’re just waiting for it to crap out. What happened with yours?

        • lmarconi says:

          @Nick1693: Honestly, not sure. For two years, it’s stalled very occasionally – generally while on a hill or while the air conditioning is on – and the check engine light comes on and off. Honestly, the thing has been in a few minor accidents (I got grazed by a Hummer and let me tell you, Hummer vs. Contour doesn’t really work out in Contour’s favor), so I wasn’t interested in spending a ton to get a fixed.
          It’s finally just started shutting off in the middle of the road – everything shuts down as if you’re out of battery power- again not all the time, but enough so that it’s pretty unsafe to drive, especially out-of-town. I took it in to see if maybe it was a clog (the oil hadn’t been changed in like 6 mos), but the mechanic (a friend of mine) said the problems are so huge it’d cost more to fix it than what it’s worth. I only paid $1500 though 4 years ago, so I’ve figuree I’ve gotten my monies worth from it, so I’m okay with that. Good luck with yours!

  6. linkura says:

    Haha, the jerks who used to live downstairs from me had a Touareg.

    • tbax929 says:

      @linkura:
      I’m not buying any car that has a name I can’t pronounce!

    • Inglix_the_Mad says:

      @linkura: Wait isn’t that the VW minivan? If it is, then it’s just a re-badged Dodge Caravan. No wait, that’s the Routan.

      Still, I love my Jetta Wolfsburg 2.0T. Great car. Part of me wishes I ponied up for the Passat, but I chose the smaller car. Then again, after having driven Toyota’s, Dodge’s, Ford’s, Chevy’s, and Honda’s over the last year (from rental agencies, granted) THEY (the cars anyway) ALL SUCK.

      Next car might be a BMW 4dr, even though it’s boring.

  7. Riff Raff says:

    As far as my family’s opinion goes: don’t EVER even think about buying a Ford Windstar. My parents have so far had the following go wrong with their ’99 Breaking-windstar:

    - Transmission literally fell to pieces while on the road, just after the powertrain warranty ended. Ford refused to offer any recourse except a pitiful $500 towards a new trans.

    - Power steering system suffered a leak, and destroyed the gears before it could be serviced. The car had suffered horrid grinding sounds while turning prior to this. Yes, it is fully my parent’s fault for not paying attention to those noises and bothering to check the fluid levels. However, the Ford dealership, where the vehicle received all of its regular maintenance, failed to even note the noise to my parents.

    - The vehicle now suffers through horrid, screeching brakes, which the dealerhsip has failed to correct.

    My parents have basically sworn off Ford for life. Other than the glaring self-disintegrating head gasket on my ’94 SL2, the two Saturns my dad has purchased have been perfect. Sadly, he is not in the market this year, so he will never be able to own another one.

    On the flip side, I know two people with a Ford F-250 and an F-350 Superduty. Both have been problem-free. Of course, these two people are gearheads and can even change their own brakes easily.

    So, I guess the moral of the story is this: If you are observant, or a gearhead, and notice a problem with your Ford vehicle, either take it in immediately, or service the car yourself.

    • gqcarrick says:

      @Riff-Raff: Thats great, except the study is about CURRENT models, not ones from over a decade ago.

    • mavkato says:

      @Riff-Raff: i had a friend that had a toyota camry break down after a year. by your criteria, everyone should avoid toyotas as well.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Riff-Raff: All of the Ford Rangers my parents have owned have worked great…at least until they got crunched by drivers who don’t pay attention and/or run red lights.

    • yevarechecha says:

      @Riff-Raff: Our Windstar had an alternator failure on the Cross Bronx Expressway. On a bridge. No turn signals, couldn’t roll the power windows down to make hand motions, nothing. The car was dead. Somehow the driver managed to cut across heavy traffic and coast off an exit ramp without killing us. One of the scariest 20-second periods of my life. We then spent 4 hours in the South Bronx waiting for a repair. Thank goodness for AAA.

    • PølάrβǽЯ says:

      @Riff-Raff: I thought everyone had figured out that Aroestars/Windstars were utter crap by 1999?

      Not only that, but almost all Ford automatic transmissions from the 80′s and 90′s (except for 3/4 and 1-ton trucks) were crap.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @Riff-Raff: One bad vehicle isn’t any more reason to “swear off a brand for life” than one good vehicle is to decide you’ll only ever buy that brand forever. The Windstar was a POS its entire model life, but Ford had some decent vehicles at the time and has been making steady improvements to their product line, build quality and reliability in recent years.

  8. Brazell says:

    I completely support Ford. They’re the only major American manufacturer to not take tons of taxpayer money last year.

    The others can all go to hell.

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      @Brazell: Agreed. I also refuse to buy any Japanese car due to the horrible trade policies in Japan with regards to US cars being sold there.

      • gqcarrick says:

        @fs2k2isfun: Agreed, Ford is the only automaker in the US that I would consider. No way I would buy anything from GM or Chrysler.

        • remington870_20ga says:

          @gqcarrick: I concur, though I drive a hemi powered Jeep, I only bought it because I knew Chrysler had barely anything to do with it. Utilizing a engine platform thats been around for quite awhile and a Mercedes transmission Im quite confident… I dont think the electronics will hold up well… its only a matter of time.

        • gover57 says:

          @gqcarrick: “No way I would buy anything from GM or Chrysler.”

          You Mean ‘Government Motors’ or ‘Fiat’…

      • TurnkeyDB says:

        @fs2k2isfun: Well you do realize many Japanese cars are actually made (or assembled, minor technicality) in the US? I’ve been driving my made in Tennessee 1995 Nissan truck since 1997 and it’s still rolling along *knock on wood*.

        What’s funny is to have an argument with a Neckcar fan, especially the truck series, about cars made in America and the Toyota’s are more made in America than the other trucks on the track. The Tacoma’s are made in Cali but soon to be San Antonio.

        A lot of the cars and trucks from the domestic car companies are mostly made in Mexico and some in Canada. A bunch of the Maquiladoras (twin plants) across the border from El Paso, TX make components for the car companies and there are more plants farther south in Mexico that do as well.

      • jamar0303 says:

        @fs2k2isfun: Nissan/Toyota/Honda make cars in America. American makers do not do vice versa. See the difference?

        • West Coast Secessionist says:

          @thebigbad: I have a Honda or a Toyota, but I had to make two small repairs after 6 years. Unacceptable! Due to this fact alone, I refuse to ever buy another. My next car will be a Ford.

    • tbax929 says:

      @Brazell:
      Funny. That’s the only American car company I’d never buy from. But that’s just because I’ve always equated Ford with crappy cars. They make nice trucks, but their cars seem like crap to me. They have RENTAL written all over them.

    • brodie7838 says:

      @Brazell: I shall also add my voice to this chorus; if I chose an American auto manufacturer, it would be Ford at this point.

  9. Etoiles says:

    I think Ford is having to do a lot of recovery from their 1990s problems. The Ford Taurus was an 8-year car. I knew 5 people / families who had one, and every single one developed some major transmission issue around the eight-year mark.

    I love my 1996 Camry, though. Thanks for leaving me that car, grandpa. It’s indestructible and reliable and I love having a car that I can generally trust to start when I put the key in!

    • giggitygoo says:

      @Etoiles:

      Exactly right. My family’s 1991 Taurus died in 1999 with major transmission problems. (And only after the transmission died and was replaced under warranty in 1993!) Barely made it over the 100,000 mile mark before. Of course since the Taurus only had 5 odometer digits, it went back to all 0s. That led me to believe that Ford never expected it to make it to the 6th digit.

      • azntg says:

        @giggitygoo: Ha! That’s funny.

        My dad has nothing but terrible experience with Ford Taurus(es).

        First Ford Taurus (1992 model), the car was totalled after it got rear ended by another driver.

        For some reason, dad decided to go for another Ford Taurus (1993). In the summer of 2001, the transmission fluid started to leak and estimates for a fix was pretty darn high. Car was given away.

      • KTK1990 says:

        @giggitygoo: My dad’s I think 93 tarus was a great car, didnt break down and we sold it at around 2004. But my mom’s 2002 (or 03?) windstar is a piece of crap.

        Power side closing doors rarely work, left side speakers cut out alot, something i hate driving.

    • ballistic90 says:

      @Etoiles: I’ve got a 2003 Taurus that has gone through a number or problems. All tires had to be replaced (typical I guess), all the brakes have grinded down to bare metal and had to be replaced at some point (Front, then back), and serpentine belt problems and air conditioner motor problems and the car stalling out of me and having to replace the fuel filter. I guess I shouldn’t complain TOO hard, because it was used when I got it and the repairs haven’t been too much of a burden, but I wanted a car that was trouble free. I guess too much to ask, then.

      • Orv says:

        @ballistic90: Brakes, tires, belts, and fuel filters are all normal wear items. They aren’t supposed to last the life of the car.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @ballistic90: “all the brakes have grinded (sic) down to bare metal” is operator error. Brakes and steering are far and away the most important systems on the car, you should take better care of them.

  10. cmac says:

    I just bought a new Ford a few weeks ago and did diligent research on all other similar models from other manufacturers. I test drove so many different vehicles. Design-wise, it was easily the best choice avaiable. And the comparable Acura was a 4 cylinder, fewer features, and more expensive. Acura reliability was really great but with so much less to offer, that just didn’t cut it. Ford seems like they’ve finally got it together and they didn’t take bailout money. Good for them.

    • frank64 says:

      @cmac: What model?

      • cmac says:

        @frank64: Ford Edge. I drove the Acura RDX, Infiniti EX35, Murano, Traverse, Venza, Highlander. I know there was more, but I just can’t remember them all. I skipped the CRV because it was a 4 cylinder with no turbo. At least the Acura was a turbo 4. They were all small SUVs. I really wanted to want the Acura, but it just didn’t drive well and the rear seat folding mechanism was much more complicated than the Edge. The Infiniti was really great; the interior was the nicest of them all. The reliability was great, but it was a $2000K add-on to get the technology package, of which I only wanted Bluetooth. Ford has the ginormous sun/moon roof which is a nice feature. No car or car manufacturer is perfect. Based on the reviews, it seems like Ford/Lincoln AWD needs to be avoided but beyond that, Ford’s new car line-up isn’t looking too bad.

  11. valkyrievf2x says:

    How do they base the reliability ratings? I mean, if these are new cars, I would hope they all would be reliable in the first year of ownership at least.

    That being said, kudos to Ford. Seems like they finally got their head out of their @$$. The Fusion is looking mighty tempting lately…

  12. sp00nix says:

    Meh i don’t trust this. How can models that are only a few years old even be rated as most reliable? My 91 stanza which isn’t even made anymore runs smoother then most 5+ year old fords i hear sputtering down the road (i live on a busy road to, so i see it all). Only mjor issue i had with it was a power steering hose went out. Big whoop. Tranny and engine are smooth as silk.

    • ballistic90 says:

      @OMG! SP00N: Well, that may be a fair point, but it’s also a fair point that they were comparing those Fords to the other cars of the same year. I’m more concerned about the cars that gave out the first year on the road. That seems like more of an achievement of craptacular construction.

    • Chmeeee says:

      @OMG! SP00N: Exaggerate much? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a 5-year old anything sputter down the road. If it’s actually sputtering, that’s usually more of a sign of severe neglect than anything else.

      • Inglix_the_Mad says:

        @Chmeeee: Too true. I’ll even defend Ford here. I had a used 1990 Ford Tempo 5 spd that I beat the crap out of (tons of mileage) that ran over 150k without anything more serious than brakes / wheels and 1 power window motor. Though, admittedly, it looked like sh*t. That wasn’t the car’s fault though, someone whacked it in a parking lot and I didn’t feel like fixing a 10 year old car up (insurance would have just totaled it).

  13. Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

    I think that ford started realizing their quality issues a few years ago, and since then have been making some improvements.

    I am not sure if GM will ever figure it out though. The problem is they have always been behind in what people want.

  14. golddog says:

    Really? I’d hate to experience the vehicles that were rated lower.

    Actually my Ford vehicles (three over the last 13 years) overall have been OK on a PITA-per-mile score. Couple of tips for Ford engineers if you come across this (and for buyers):

    * Maybe you could spend a little extra $ on an extra millimeter of aluminum on the cylinder head so you could have three threads instead of two on the spark plug inserts. This would prevent the occasional spark plug exploding out of its socket and stripping the threads and leaving the driver stranded and shopping for a replacement head (not cheap). Just b/c you close your eyes doesn’t mean you’re invisible. There’s thousands who’ve had this happen to us.

    * Speaking of spark plugs, your whole “coil-on-plug” setup is stupid, needlessly expensive to replace when something goes wrong (see above) and makes it a huge PITA to service the vehicle yourself.

    * Maybe you could make a vehicle that won’t stall during a heavy rainstorm, after driving through a puddle, or a trip to the carwash. See “your coil-on-plug system sucks” bullet above.

    * I believe this has been resolved for a while but recently saw it pop back up in the news…could you possibly make the cruise control button not be a self-destruct mechanism?

    • Joe_Bloe says:

      @golddog: I had coil-on-plug ignition on my Lincoln LS, and once they worked out the bugs with a newer spark plug boot seal, it was rock solid. And I changed my plugs myself, hell, I changed the coils myself when one of the earlier-generation ones got fouled with oil. And there’s no debating the performance improvements from eliminating long runs of high-tension spark plug leads.

  15. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    I’m not surprised. We are a family of Ford drivers, my dad regularly puts 250k miles on the F150′s he buys (gets a new one every 5 years or so, and hasn’t ever had to fix anything major, he would get the oil replaced every 3k and get new tires as necessary). My brothers are each F150 drivers as well. One of them rolled the truck within 1 year of getting it, it was not totaled, but fixed by insurance; no issues since. I had a 98 Mustang that ran great that I got rid of at about 140k last year (put about $2k worth of service into it, but that was to ensure it going to get me from Nevada back to Florida). That car drove across the country 3 times with no issues whatsoever. I’m currently driving an 01 Explorer, we have never had any issues with it.

    Almost no question, my next vehicle will be a Ford. My gf recently bought a Toyota 4Runner, and she wishes she had bought another Ford Explorer. The 4Runner doesn’t run as well and it’s having some transmission issues (which she needs to get taken in, but thats another story).

    • gover57 says:

      @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: agree – ford family here too – my dad built the crown victoria/grand marquis and previous vehicle of the plant for 33 years. millions of taxi/police vehicles worldwide can’t be wrong.
      I currenlty drive an 03 escape sport with less than 75 km on it (barely broken in) and its pretty good on gas (even compared to the newer ones…). Also, can’t complain about a/z plan pricing, which is the REAL employee pricing for ford. We have had a fusio hybrif for a week for testing, and it is awesome on gas. 1/4 tank went over 380km, and ride is smooth and quiet.

    • savvy999 says:

      @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: Ditto. We have had 3 Fords, no major problems with any. I’d buy another when I want a car payment again (hopefully never).

  16. remington870_20ga says:

    Hahahaha! As the new smug face of GM says with their ‘well made cars’, “May the best car win”

  17. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    My Focus turns 10 next year — first model year — and still runs really well. I’ve had only minor problems with it (the motor that runs the windows up and down broke in year 7 or so) and I’ve put less than $1,000 into it of non-routine maintenance. (Knock on wood.)

    And the 2000 Focuses have some kinks in them, being the first model year. My husband drives a 2002 Focus and his runs a lot quieter than mine. (Although his had an ignition problem that was a little more expensive than my cheap-o problems.)

    I may move up to something bigger next time I get a car — the back seat is a little small for the car-seat crowd — but I would definitely buy a Focus again. And I feel good about Ford after this particular car.

    (Her name is Penelope. Because she has a snub nose.)

    • thebigbad says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): My wife has a 2001 Ford Focus and both the motors in the rear power windows went out within two weeks of each other at about the 6 year mark. We don’t have children and rarely have passengers so those rear windows rarely are used. I saw many forum posts with people complaining about the exact same thing but Ford won’t declare it a recall, obviously because it’s not a safety issue. Because of this, I won’t buy another. My wife’s next car will be a Honda or Toyota. She’s free to pick the color though.

  18. frank64 says:

    No one seems to take into account the total cost of ownership. I have a Camry and getting the car repaired is always expensive. The mechanics always say the parts are more than a domestic car. I am wondering if buying a reliable Ford might be a less expensive alternative?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @frank64: Seriously? I’ve never heard that foreign cars cost more than domestic cars.

      I took a quick look at Edmunds.com and the average repair price (at the five year mark) for a 2009 Camry (base model) is about $671. The cost for a Ford Fusion is $771. The same for a Mercury Milan is $842.

      • Orv says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Yeah, generally I find that foreign cars aren’t that much more expensive, unless they’re very old, very rare, or you go to someone who orders every part from the dealer. Most foreign cars have pretty good aftermarket support.

      • frank64 says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: I went to RepairPal to check. Compared 2,000 Camry and Taurus Range includes parts and labor.

        Oxygen sensors Camry 185-268, Taurus 119-120
        Exhaust Manifold Camry 1440-2518, Taurus 687-1081
        Drive Belt Camry 115-198, Taurus 95-172
        AC Condenser Camry 663-829, Taurus 515-605
        Fuel Injector Camry 365-499, Taurus 199-324

        These were random, but some of my picks was actual work on my card. The Ox sensors I needed 3(maybe 2 I forgot)! Very expensive and big difference.

  19. Orv says:

    As long as we’re trading anecdotes, the wife-to-be’s ’99 Malibu has been very reliable transportation, even in the face of sometimes indifferent maintenance. The only problems are niggling minor things like a fuel gauge that always reads “Empty” and a window switch that popped out of the armrest.

  20. Radi0logy says:

    My completely scientific personal experiences tell me to never buy American.

    Plymouth Acclaim – Engine died. Put a new engine in, transmission died.

    Nissan Altima – drove until sold

    Ford F150 – engine died

    Infiniti I30 – drove until sold

    Acura Integra – drove until sold

    Acura Integra #2 – drove until sold

    Mitsubishi Eclipse – Drove until sold

    Ford windstar – Transmission died

    Ford f150 #2 – engine and transmission dying.. trying to sell

    Toyota Camry – 180k miles still going strong

    • Paladin_11 says:

      @Radi0logy: Sometimes you CAN attribute these issues to user error. There isn’t enough evidence here to know for sure, of course. (well, no evidence at all really as it’s just an anecdote) Some vehicles are more resistant to a lack of routine maintenance than others. Toyota’s Atkinson cycle engines will run on sludge for a while when you fail to change the oil. Other brands may not be as forgiving. So don’t blame the manufacturer out of hand. Blame lazy consumers who don’t read their owner’s manuals.

      • tbax929 says:

        @Paladin_11:
        Agreed. I take really good care of my cars and have never had any transmission or engine issues. I did, however, have a bad fuel pump, which was promptly replaced under warranty.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @Paladin_11: Toyota’s Atkinson-cycle engines (the hybrids) are not the ones that had the sludge problem. Those were convention V6 and 4-cylinder engines, and the Atkinson cycle wouldn’t have anything to do with sludge accumulation, it’s about the gas expansion ratio in the combustion chambers.

        • Paladin_11 says:

          @GearheadGeek: You are correct. But I wasn’t actually saying that the sludge was a problem here. I perhaps chose a bad example to illustrate that some Toyotas are more forgiving of owner neglect than other manufacturer’s products.

          Thanks for keeping me honest though. I’m not intentionally trying to mislead anyone.

      • Michael Belisle says:

        @Paladin_11: Some vehicles are more resistant to a lack of routine maintenance than others. … So don’t blame the manufacturer out of hand. Blame lazy consumers who don’t read their owner’s manuals.

        That’s not a very compelling defense of domestic engineering.

        What you’re saying is if you miss some scheduled maintenance here and there with a Toyota, it keeps running. Sounds great to me.

        If you miss some with a Ford, it explodes. Never mind that Ford designed a fragile car. It’s your fault for being a bad person who takes bad care of their cars.

        Please stand by while I rush out to buy a Ford.

        • Paladin_11 says:

          @Michael Belisle: Yup. That’s what I’m saying. That consumers have to take responsibility for the products they buy and be responsible for maintaining them. Even the more resistant models have their limits.

          I’m not advocating you buy Toyota or Ford. Just saying that it’s not always just the manufacturer’s fault.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @Radi0logy:

      US automakers have shot themselves in the foot with all the badge engineering. You should buy the platform, not the brand. (This is true for most automakers, but it’s only a problem in the US)

      You listed, for the most part, a lot of completely shitty American cars, from brands that have made good cars. Because automakers obfuscate the mechanical underpinnings of their cars, it can be hard for an uninformed consumer to know what’s what. So one shitty Ford makes people think ALL Fords must be shitty.

      That’s probably why Suzuki dropped the Daewoos from their lineup about 5 seconds after GM sold their stake in Suzuki. They knew those things were poison and would kill their good cars.

      • jamar0303 says:

        @TechnoDestructo: Mmm? My anecdotal experience says that rebadged Daewoos will be the only GM cars I buy (a couple of minor problems here and there but overall better than GM’s own-made cars with very few exceptions, I’ve found). They sell like hotcakes here in China too. The fact that they don’t sell any in America means I’ll be going Japanese when I get back.

  21. senorTron says:

    I think the most reliable car i ever owned was a piece of sh*t 1983 ford escort that some redneck parked too close to a campfire (all the paint was melted on one side). I bought it for $300 with about 60k miles on it, drove it for several years and then gave it to my brother who drove it for many more. Never put a dime into it and i don’t think it ever even had an oil change (we were trying to kill the thing at the end there). Ended up selling it for $350 five or six years later.

  22. BizarroRonJeremy says:

    I bought a 2005 Freestyle (first model year) that was plagued with problems.

    Had to have the transmission changed after 6 months!

    Against my better judgement, I bought a 2007 Fusion. Bare bones model, manual transmission. So far, it’s one of the best cars I’ve ever owned.

    I’m glad to see that Ford is pumping out quality cars.

    I rented the Edge for a couple of days in L.A. and it was a pretty sweet ride.

    I have my eye on the 2010 Taurus SHO. I’m not a grandpa yet, far from it, but it looks like a 21st century American muscle car.

    • 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

      @BizarroRonJeremy: I’m also looking at that Taurus…as a late 20′s male I know it’s not the “coolest” thing to get, but it’s gonna have some power…it’s just so expensive for a US 4-door…

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: It’s expensive because it’s a “full size” and Ford has put a lot of engineering into it, its content level is VERY high and it’s available with a great engine and AWD in its most-expensive versions. The Fusion is a better buy if you don’t need the size of the new Taurus, but so far there’s no EcoBoost option for the Fusion.

        • Paladin_11 says:

          @GearheadGeek: But can’t you just see a new Fusion Sport with an EcoBoost 6. Heck, even the EcoBoost 4 would be sweet here… less weight and presumably cheaper than the 6.

          If I were a family man with a couple of kids I’d jump on the Taurus SHO. It looks to be a winner in every respect.

          • GearheadGeek says:

            @Paladin_11: I’m hoping for a Fusion with an EcoBoost 4-cylinder with a 6MT, though I still probably wouldn’t consider it because it’s not a wagon. The Edge is as close as Ford gets to a Fusion wagon, and it’s not close enough to a wagon for my tastes. Too tall, too heavy (both visually and mass-wise.)

  23. Bluth_Cornballer says:

    Isn’t the Ford Fusion essentially a Mazda design?

    • Paladin_11 says:

      @Bluth_Cornballer: No it isn’t. The last Fusion shared a platform with the Mazda 6, but the current Fusion does not. Mazda deemed it too large for their domestic (Japanese) needs. The current Fusion uses the same platform as Ford of Europe’s Mondeo. In fact, Ford seems be doing a good job of consolidating their American and European offerings. Wait until you see the new Focus and Fiesta.

      Also, Ford sold off enough of their interest in Mazda to no longer have a controlling interest in them. I believe they went from a 33% interest down to 20% or so. I would expect to see less sharing between the two in future.

      • do-it-myself says:

        @Paladin_11:

        Actually the Ford CD3/Mazda GG (2003-2008) platform are basically the same. The Fusion has used this platform since 2006 and it won’t be sharing anything except hopes and dreams with the Mondeo until MY2013.

        However, it is true that the current Mazda 6 and current Fusion are indeed on “different” platforms. The 2009-Present Mazda 6 uses a modified version of the GG, called GH.

        [en.wikipedia.org]

  24. rorschachex says:

    I’m still waiting for the Ford Fiesta.

    Best reviewed car. Ever.

  25. Ann says:

    Actually, car reliability *overall* has gradually been getting better for many years. It’s just that the Japanese don’t have much room left for improvement, and the Americans (Ford, in particular) are catching up.

  26. Ann says:

    Consumer Reports sends out extensive surveys to all their subscribers. They do year by year analysis of every model they have enough data on to be statistically significant (nearly every model out there) for five years, I think.

  27. Phil L. says:

    Lots of Windstar hate here – but I’ll mention my experience anyway.

    Bought a then-1-year-old ’00 Windstar (a fleet vehicle with 29K on it), and still have it today at about 120K miles.

    I knew about some of the Windstar’s weaknesses (major head gasket and tranny problems ’95-’98; mostly dealt with by ’99) – but it offered 4 LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren), which wasn’t available on any other minvan at that time (3 small kids in cars seats and a St. Bernard). So I was *religious* about changing transmission fluid and engine coolant (BTW, the weak link in virtually all FWD minivans is the tranny, regardless of maker).

    Result? At 120K miles, no internal engine or transmission repairs. Many of those miles involved 5 people *AND* a trailer (have both a popup camper and a utility trailer). The van slogged its way down a muddy road dragging a trailer full of cub scout gear this past weekend. No problems.

    I’ll admit Ford could have done a better job on a number of details. But I couldn’t afford Toyota or Honda (and neither one then offered family-friendly seating layouts that could handle 3 LATCH safety seats plus a large dog). But I find it hard to beat its price and practicality.

    Now that Ford has really turned the corner, I just wish they’d get back into the minivan business. The Flex is nice, but not as useful as a real minivan.

  28. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I love my ’03 Escape! And I wish I could have my ’92 4 door blue Taurus back, but alas, the cam shaft (I think that’s what it’s called) failed and did major engine damage, so it had to go.

    My Dad still has his 1946 Ford 2 door Coupe. Awesome car!

  29. caknuck says:

    I used to work for Ford. Three years ago, my wife and I got his & hers Fusions. We were very satisfied, just two very minor defects (one per vehicle) in almost 3 1/2 years.

    Even though I’m no longer with the Blue Oval, we just traded one of the Fusions in for a 2010 Escape.

  30. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I’m not convinced yet, but if somebody forced me to buy an American car at gunpoint, it would definitely be a Ford. They’re miles ahead of GM and Chrysler in terms of design and reliability, but they’re going to have to earn back the trust of the car-buying public. That takes a long time.

    In the grand scheme of things, $20k doesn’t seem like much money, until it’s your money..then suddenly, it’s a huge amount.

  31. TechnoDestructo says:

    This is the only automotive subject on which Consumer Reports is the go-to publication. And even then you should take it with a grain of salt. Car magazines are either complete whores (Motor Trend) or inclined to ignore reliability if a car is cool enough. (Not forgive, ignore.)

  32. Incredulous1 says:

    My 2003 Chevy minivan needed a new trans at 58,000.
    Wipers mechanism broke in 08
    Drivers window wont gp up or down with out “help” ,the air will only go on 3 out of 5 positions, emergency brake wont release if you use it – so i don’t use it anymore – cup holders broke, glove box latch broke, handle on the back trunk broke off, sliding door gets messed up easily. Gas wont go in unless the nozzle is “just right”……………I never owned anything but a gm before but next time……..

  33. audguy says:

    So… I’m guessing everybody here for got the whole thing about the death trap called the pinto? No you say “hey, it was just one car!” well that is not it. My problem is how they handled it. Cheaper to deal with a few wrongful death lawsuits than to fix it? Ford, no chance in hell. I was a lucky one to survive a rear end collision in one as a child.

  34. madfrog says:

    My first car was a 76 Ford Maverick. Drove that until the wheels fell off. Then, I had a 72 Buick Lesabre. Rust eventually got that one, but it ran like a top. After that, I got a Subaru. They are bullet proof. I will never buy anything else.

  35. Mr. Bill says:

    I have to say that I have usually gone with Toyota. We have a 2008 Corolla right now.

    *But if Ford or any of the other car makers show overall statistical reliability like Toyota does I would buy that brand.

    It’s all about getting the best reliability for my buck.

    *I wouldn’t buy a Chrysler though no matter how reliable they got.

  36. zzxx says:

    There are many people out there who will never drive a Ford, GM, or Chrysler product because they once got crap from these companies are are now punishing them for that.

    How many people had one lousy American car after another?

    How many people had only great foreign cars, especially Honda and Toyota?

  37. DIrEctQL says:

    Wow, those are great examples of great American engineering … based on Mazda, which is a Japanese company:

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  38. jrm82 says:

    I recently purchased a 2010 Fusion because of the CR reliability ratings and that it has numerous features for its price. I also wanted to support Ford for making some decisions a few years ago to start a “turn around” and not wind up in a GM/Chrysler situation.

    Although admittedly anecdotal, I’ve owned a ’99 Ford Ranger for the past nine years and had one minor problem, that didn’t even cost any money to fix.

  39. bobbyroberts says:

    Don’t buy the Ford hype. I owned an ’03 and an ’05 Focus, both of which were nightmares.

    Interestingly, Consumer Reports also rated both cars highly when they came out (which is why I bought them), but as time went by the ratings in many of the categories decreased significantly.

    Even the recent Ford ads which state that Ford is equal to Honda and Toyota are misleading. If you read the fine print, the survey covered only the first three months of ownership. Even Ford can build a car that works for three months.

    The Focuses were the end of 25 years of buying American for me. Bought an ’09 Civic and I’ve never been happier.

    Ford could put the highest quality vehicle on the road for $10 and I still wouldn’t buy it. They screwed me and I’m never going back.

    Now that I think of it, I’m also going to cancel my online Consumer Reports subscription. They didn’t do their job either.

  40. Raiders757 says:

    Well, there is a reason why Ford was, and still is, in better shape than GMC or Chrysler. They have always made better cars and trucks.

  41. johnvwallace says:

    First of all, as Warren Brown of “The Washington Post” put it (more or less), anyone who categorically states that domestic products are trashy compared with imports is just being silly. What he meant was, all the reliable data points toward equality.

    There are also the dramatic examples about the decline of import quality — the Lexus sudden and unstoppable acceleration, the Toyota engine sludge, etc. Honda and Subaru seem to be holding their own very well indeed, without these kind of big-time PR disasters.

    But the real reason I wanted to comment is how inappropriate and biased I think Mr. Chasick’s snide tone is in both the headline and the accompanying picture. Some Fords — not all — are very reliable and way beyond “actually worth buying.” Why the “actually” Mr. Chasick?

    Reliable? “Consumer Reports” predicts very good reliability for most Ford products. And the magazine no longer automatically gives Toyotas a “recommended” rating in the first year.

    As for overall quality, I spent a week in a Ford Fusion rental recently and thought it was one of the best cars I’ve even driven, at least in the family sedan category. Ditto for the Flex, which I had the pleasure of driving another week. Every single magazine I know of prefers the Fusion Hybrid over its Toyota competitor. “Consumer Reports” itself prefers the Mustang over its two, newer pony car imitators — not mentioning that there are no Asian equivalents, except possibly the brand-new, unproven Hyundai Genesis coupe. And the Escape Hybrid taxis being driven in San Francisco recently surpassed 300,000 miles. Wouldn’t that indicate that, if longevity is one of your key criteria, the Escape Hybrid is “actually worth buying”?

    Finally, there is absolutely no reason to choose a rusted Ford logo as the only visual for this post. Unless you would do the same thing for Toyota, Honda, and everyone else, I’d say you have to sand the rust off your own bias Mr. Chasick.

  42. Archangelo says:

    Honda has GREAT resale value. They are good cars. Perhaps the most sensible cars on the road. They are only slightly less reliable than Toyota, but significantly cheaper. Comparable Toyota vehicles feel more sturdy than their Honda counterparts, however. I currently drive a Ford F-150 and really like it. I will not get the resale value out of it that I would have gotten on any Honda or Toyota, though, so I will drive it until it dies. Hopefully, that will be a long time in the future. I have a subscription to Consumer Reports, but I realize that I have to take a lot of what they ‘report’ with a grain of salt; they are definitely biased sometimes. I have purchased their ‘recommended’ and highly rated products and gotten burned before. As far as American cars go, however, Ford is the ONLY way to go. Forget about Government Motors (GM) or Christ!ler … our duplicitous politicians generously gave BILLION$$ of our tax dollars to them and then gave them to the unions, who will inevitably drive them into the ground (unless more ‘bailouts’ arrive — and institute complete government control — then you can Abandon All Hope). Play it safe, buy Honda, Toyota or Ford, and you can count on reliability.