The 12 Cars With the Cheapest Repairs

The 12 Cars With the Cheapest Repairs

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The next time you purchase a car, you’ll want to compare prices to ensure you're getting the best upfront deal. But the real expense often comes further down the line, as the car ages.

new report by CarMD ranks cars based on the type of repairs required and how often they occur. Its Vehicle Health Index is drawn from 136 million model year 2002 to 2012 vehicles. It ranks 100 vehicles that represent the top 5 percent of the most reliable vehicles on the road.

For the second year in a row, Toyota topped the list of manufacturers for reliability, with the fewest percentage of "check engine"-related problems and lowest average repairs costs. Number two on the list, also for the second year in a row, was Hyundai, followed by BMW, Honda and Volkswagen.

On the other end of the spectrum, CarMD finds the 2002 Ford Windstar, with $411.99 in repair costs from September 2011 to September 2012, to be the least reliable vehicle on the road today. The 2002 Ford Focus is also among the worst, as is the 2003 Chevrolet Impala, the 2003 Toyota Corolla and the 2007 Dodge Ram pickup.

Here are the top 12 vehicle models with the combined fewest and lowest cost "check engine"-related problems from September 1st, 2011 to September 1st, 2012, and the common repair problems they experience. This includes model years 2002 to 2012. The vehicles are listed by their average repair costs for 2011-2012. Some of the models with pricier average repair costs may still get a higher overall reliability ranking, due to extremely low repair incidents. Repair costs also don’t necessarily come out of consumers’ pockets, as many vehicles are still under manufacturer warranty.

1. 2010 Dodge Challenger

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $64.17
Overall reliability rank out of 100: 12
Common repair problems: Inspect for loose fuel cap and tighten or replace as necessary ($5-$15 for a new cap); replace engine coolant temperature sensor (average repair cost: $98); and inspect for leak at exhaust pipe and repair as necessary (average repair cost: $93).

2. 2010 Subaru Outback

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $110.43.
Overall rank: 10
Common repair problems: Inspect for faulty wiring and repair as necessary (average repair cost: $81); inspect for loose fuel cap and tighten or replace as necessary ($5-$15 to replace); and adjust tire pressure and reset tire pressure sensor(s) (average repair cost: $107).

3. 2010 Subaru Forester

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $116.33
Overall rank: 6
Common repair problems: Inspect for loose fuel cap and tighten or replace as necessary; replace evaporative emissions canister and vent control valve (average repair cost: $478.59); and replace fuel pressure sensor (average repair cost: $185).

4. 2009 Honda Pilot

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $141.00
Overall rank: 4
Common repair problems: Reprogram powertrain control module (average repair cost: $90); clean exhaust gas recirculation valve and ports (average repair cost: $228); and tighten or replace loose, damaged or missing fuel cap.

5. 2008 Ford Taurus

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $141.17
Overall rank: 2
Common repair problems: Inspect for faulty wiring and replace as needed (average repair cost: $74); tighten or replace loose, damaged or missing fuel cap; and remove aftermarket accessories (average repair cost: $107).

6. 2008 Ford Taurus

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $141.17
Overall rank: 2
Common repair problems: Inspect for faulty wiring and replace as needed (average repair cost: $74); tighten or replace loose, damaged or missing fuel cap; and remove aftermarket accessories (average repair cost: $107).

7. 2009 Honda Accord

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $201.74
Overall rank: 5
Common repair problems: Replace seat belt buckle (average repair cost: $162); replace spark plugs and reprogram ECM (average repair cost: $238); and tighten or replace loose, damaged or missing fuel cap.

8. 2010 Chevrolet Malibu

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $238.36
Overall rank: 11
Common repair problems: Inspect for loose fuel cap and tighten or replace as necessary; replace fuel pressure regulator (average repair cost: $584); and replace mass air flow sensor (average repair cost: $203).

9. 2008 Toyota Yaris

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $259.33
Overall rank: 3
Common repair problems: Tighten or replace loose, damaged or missing fuel cap; replace ignition coil (average repair cost: $192); and replace oil control valve (average repair cost: $229).

10. 2010 Toyota Corolla

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $283.13
Overall rank: 1
Common repair problems: Inspect for loose fuel cap and tighten or replace as necessary; replace neutral safety switch, which is responsible for disabling the starter operation when the vehicle’s transmission is not in park (average repair cost: $372); and replace oxygen sensor (average repair cost $300).

11.2010 Hyundai Sonata

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $336.30
Overall rank: 8
Common repair problems: Replace evaporative emissions canister (average repair cost: $416); tighten or replace loose, damaged or missing fuel cap; and replace manifold absolute pressure sensor (average repair cost: $150).

12. 2007 Lexus ES 350

Repair cost for 2011-2012: $377.71
Overall rank: 7
Common repair problems: Replace ignition coil(s) (average repair cost: $321); replace oil control valve (average repair cost: $587); and replace oxygen sensor(s) (average repair cost: $292).

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Image credit: Flickr/butterflyx

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