CarMD Vehicle Health Index Ranks Top Vehicles and Manufacturers

Nation's largest "check engine" repair database reveals makes and models with fewest problems, lowest car repair costs

Nov 15, 2011, 10:00 ET from

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Corporation, a leading provider of automotive tools and information, today announced the release of its first annual CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™ ranking of the top manufacturers and vehicles. It is the first index to rank manufacturers and vehicles using real world, statistically-based data on "check engine"-related failures and repair costs. The Index ranking is based on the combined fewest average repair incidents and lowest average repair costs for model year 2001 to 2011 vehicles in the U.S. from Oct. 1, 2010 through Oct. 1, 2011. The CarMD® Vehicle Health Index also ranks the top 100 vehicles, the top three vehicles by category and most common problems by make. The complete CarMD® Vehicle Health Index, featuring manufacturer and vehicle data, is now available at


"CarMD understands that when you're shopping for one of the most expensive purchases in life – your car – it's important to be armed with data to help you make the best possible decision based on the reliability of that vehicle," said Art Jacobsen, vice president of CarMD. "We are releasing this data to give car and truck buyers a completely unbiased, data-driven view and never-before-seen level of transparency into the vehicles they may be considering, and recognize the manufacturers that continue to make progress by lowering cost of ownership and designing vehicles to last longer."

Top Ranked Manufacturers

According to the 2011 CarMD® Vehicle Health Index, Toyota is the no. 1 ranked manufacturer in the U.S., based on a ranking derived from the fewest percentage of "check engine" light-related related problems and lowest average repair cost. Toyota, which includes Toyota and Lexus brands, has the lowest Index rating of 0.67. The lower the rating, the better the overall ranking. Rounding out the top five vehicle manufacturers of 2011 are No. 2 Hyundai, No. 3 Honda, No. 4 Ford and No. 5 General Motors.

Top 10 Ranked Vehicle Manufacturers




% CarMD Red Light
Reports /
Problems Seen

Average Repair
(Parts & Labor)

Overall  CarMD
2011 Index Rating


























General Motors



































(Top 10 vehicle manufacturers based on model year 2001-2011 vehicles needing "check engine" repairs between Oct. 1, 2010 and Oct. 1, 2011, and determined by the manufacturers whose vehicles had the fewest percentage of CarMD repair incidents combined with the lowest cost per repair, per number of registered vehicles on the road.  Sources: Corp., with vehicle population data provided by R.L. Polk)

Top Ranked Vehicles

Honda and Toyota vehicles each account for four of the top 10 ranked vehicles, including the no. 1 ranked 2009 Toyota Corolla, which had the lowest combined repair incidents and lowest average repair costs per number of registered vehicles with a CarMD Index rating of 0.085. Other top-ranking Toyotas include the 2009 Toyota RAV4 (no. 5), 2009 Toyota Camry (no. 7) and 2008 Toyota Highlander (no. 10). Top-ranked Honda vehicles include the 2008 Honda CR-V (no. 2), 2007 Honda CR-V (no. 3), 2009 Honda Accord (no.  4) and 2009 Honda Pilot (no. 8). The 2011 Hyundai Sonata (No. 6) and the 2005 Chevrolet Blazer (no. 9) round out the top 10 highest ranked vehicles on the road in the U.S. since 2001, according to CarMD.

"As a result of compiling the industry's first and most comprehensive database of diagnostic trouble codes and repairs for 'check engine'-related problems, CarMD is uniquely positioned to provide actual data on a wide range of vehicles and manufacturers," said Jacobsen. "Sourced directly from a nationwide network of automotive technicians and vehicle owners since 1996, our Index takes a never-before-seen approach to ranking vehicles based on total vehicle population, making it possible to compare a 10-year-old vehicle with a newer one. This is particularly important since drivers are holding onto vehicles longer than ever before with an average age in excess of 10 years. We believe this data will help consumers and the industry identify important trends and further the age-old debate on whether to buy new versus used."

Common Repairs by Brand/Make

Different vehicle makes tend to have a unique set of problems and common failures. The CarMD Index helps point out common problems by manufacturer, which is important for car owners to recognize in their maintenance and repair routines. Earlier this year, the CarMD Vehicle Health Index revealed that the no. 1 most common repair on vehicles in the U.S. is "replace oxygen sensor," so it's not surprising that when no. 1 ranked Toyota vehicles do have a problem, the most common culprit is a faulty O2 sensor, accounting for about 15% of Toyota's check engine repairs over the past year. O2 sensors measure the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust and tell a car's computer when there is either too much, or not enough fuel as compared with oxygen for ideal operation. If a faulty O2 sensor is not repaired, the car's gas mileage can drop by as much as 40%. The average cost to replace an O2 sensor is $238.71 (U.S.), $268.95 (Toyota) and $276.62 (Lexus), which pales in comparison to as much as $700/year in wasted fuel.  Other examples include Suzuki's oxygen sensor (O2) problems (27%), Mercedes' Mass Air Flow Sensor issues (19%) and Lincoln's tendency to experience ignition coil and spark plug-related issues (17%).

About The CarMD Vehicle Health Index

CarMD has compiled the industry's most comprehensive database of diagnostic trouble codes and repairs for "check engine"-related problems.  The data for the 2011 CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™ was procured from CarMD's network of thousands of independent and original equipment automotive service excellence (ASE)-certified technicians who have input and validated failures and fixes into the CarMD diagnostic database from 1996 to today.  The 2011 Index statistically analyzes repairs that apply to roughly 136 million model year 2001 to 2011 vehicles, taking place during the Oct. 1, 2010 to Oct. 1, 2011 time period.  In determining the Top 10 manufacturers, CarMD included all makes and models that account for at least 1% of the U.S. vehicle population, according to R.L. Polk data, and 1% of CarMD diagnostic reports.  Brands were grouped under their parent manufacturer (i.e. Lexus under Toyota; Acura under Honda; Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac; etc.).  

About The CarMD Vehicle Health Index  

Beginning in 1996, the U.S. government mandated that on-board diagnostics (OBD2) be included on all foreign and domestic cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs driven in the U.S. This universal technology is designed to detect malfunctions, set a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) and turn on the "check engine" light if there is a problem. This system provides vital health and safety information for roughly 80 percent of a vehicle's systems, and is installed on about 80 percent of the vehicles in the U.S. today.  On a daily basis, CarMD's nationwide network of Automotive Service Excellence-certified technicians recommend, confirm and upload repairs and costs to the CarMD database. As a result, CarMD has built the largest, most up-to-date database of DTCs, expert fixes and repair costs, from which it draws its CarMD® Vehicle Health Index.  CarMD will release this manufacturer and vehicle ranking data each November to provide consumers and the industry with the most in-depth view of vehicle health and repair. For more information and other CarMD Vehicle Health Index data, including a complete overview of methodology, visit

Media Contacts:

Kristin Brocoff

Jessica Beffa Corp

Thatcher + Co.

(949) 400-4899

(720) 413-4938

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Art Jacobsen