Vehicle reliability studies have been around for decades, but for the first time ever, the AutoGuide Group has undertaken a study to showcase how brands fare when it comes to building cars and trucks with the most serious of issues.
Colloquially known as “lemons,” these are vehicles with serious reliability concerns, either relating to one major issue, or a longer list of less severe problems.
For the sake of clarity, this study is intended to be a report of consumer sentiment, rather than an outright list of actual lemons. The information gathered is provided by users in conversations with other members across the AutoGuide Group’s 500-plus forums. Using proprietary software designed to hone in on keywords and sentiment, the data is collected and then further sorted to determine legitimate complaints.
The results of the list contain some surprises, but certainly not at the top. Known for building long-lasting and reliable cars, Toyota ranks first among brands with the least number of reported lemons. According to the Lemon List, Toyota averages just one reported lemon per 11,655,566 vehicles produced. In fact, Toyota’s numbers are so good that reported instances of lemon Toyotas occur at one-quarter the rate of the next brand, Honda. Toyota’s numbers skew the overall industry average significantly, so that just five brands emerge as above average. Those include Honda (2nd), Mercedes (3rd), BMW (4th) and Buick (5th).
Ranked at the bottom of the list with the most reported lemons per vehicles produced is Fiat, averaging one reported lemon per every 76,808 vehicles produced. This is followed by Cadillac, averaging one reported lemon per 103,167 vehicles produced and Porsche with one reported lemon per 126,376 vehicles produced. Jeep ranked fourth from the bottom, averaging one reported lemon per 131,574 vehicles produced. Jeep, a volume brand, also reported the highest number of overall complaints.
The first annual Lemon List is comprised of all legitimate complaints of a lemon for vehicles in North America from the 2010 model year and newer. Complaints included on the Lemon List are only those made between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
Reported instances of lemons per brand are then normalized using the total production for that brand within the timeline of the survey. Automaker sales total data is provided by GoodCarBadCar.net. 23 out of 43 brands monitored appear on the list and brands with zero reported lemons are not included on the list.
“By normalizing the data based on overall vehicle production statistics, we believe we’re giving more reliable statistics,” says Colum Wood, VP of Content at Verticlascope Inc. “This formula helps to give some real-world relevance to the numbers and makes sure that higher volume brands, which are statistically more likely to have more reported lemons, aren’t penalized. Less critical are the actual numbers, and more important is the ranking.”
The AutoGuide Group forum network is comprised over over 500 make and model related websites with 17.6 million registered members, 39 monthly visitors and 235 million pageviews. Independent audience measurement agency comScore Media Metrix ranks the AutoGuide.com #1 in automotive audience size.