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Decision Guide (beta):

Vehicle Reliability Ratings

Frequently Asked Questions about MSN Autos Reliability Ratings

Where does MSN Autos Obtain its Reliability Ratings?

MSN Autos obtains its Reliability Ratings from Auto Information Services (AIS), the nation's largest technical support service for the aftermarket auto repair industry. AIS fields about 250,000 calls from subscribing auto repair shops each year -- roughly 20,000 per month. In addition, AIS maintains the nation's most comprehensive on-site library of factory vehicle service manuals, some 5,200 volumes. The staff at AIS includes 31 factory-trained, ASE-certified Master Technicians with over 550 years of combined experience dealing firsthand with vehicle diagnostic and repair problems. AIS produces MSN Autos' Reliability Ratings by analyzing patterns displayed by thousands of repair requests the company receives from automotive technicians all across the country.

What do the green, yellow and red ratings indicators mean?

For each of a vehicle's major mechanical systems, AIS uses its database of vehicle repair information to evaluate the system's reliability.

A Green Indicator -- means the system has had a low frequency of reported problems, and that the cost to repair those problems is also low.

A Yellow Indicator -- means either that the system has had a low frequency of reported problems but that the cost to repair those problems is high OR that the system has had a moderate frequency of reported problems and that the cost to repair the problems is low.

A Red Indicator -- means either that the system has had a high frequency of reported problems regardless of repair costs OR that the system has had a moderate frequency of reported problems and that the cost to repair the problems is high.

What is the difference between an "occasional" problem and a "periodic" problem?

Problems termed "occasional" happen infrequently, according to AIS data, and once repaired are unlikely to occur again. Problems termed "periodic" also happen infrequently but the data shows they often occur again despite proper repair.

How are repair costs estmated?

Repair costs are based on a flat rate of $65.00 per hour and do not include diagnostic time or any applicable sales tax.

Why are there model-year gaps in reliability information for some vehicles?

Reliability information is shown for every model year between 1991 and 1996 that a vehicle was in production and carried the model name under which the information is listed. Gaps in coverage mean either that the vehicle was not manufactured during the year(s) for which reliability information is missing or that the vehicle bore a different model name.

Why do newer vehicles seem to have fewer reliability problems than older ones? Has automobile quality improved so dramatically?

Overall, automobile quality has improved, and newer automobiles can be expected to have fewer reliabilty problems on average than older models. However, the most recently manufactured vehicles still are so new that little reliability data about them has accumulated; as a group, these vehicles simply have not yet begun to display significant problems resulting from conditions like wear, mileage, and exposure.