Yonkers, New York – Buying a used car becomes less of a gamble with every passing year, according to a new analysis by Consumer Reports. Even the least reliable carmakers are gaining ground on Toyota and Honda, the perennial reliability leaders.

Volvo has made the most dramatic improvement over the last decade, but almost all companies have improved their products in recent years, the magazine said. Consumer Reports compared the percentage of problem-free, three-year-old models from its 2002 and 2011 Annual Auto surveys for 13 automakers, based on their product output for which owners did not report any serious problems with their cars during the 12 months covered by each survey.

The analysis of 2011 survey data revealed an overall improvement in used car reliability from almost all automakers, with Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler showing the most notable gains compared to the 2002 results, with each a minimum of ten percentage points. BMW was at the bottom of the 2011 list with only about 70 per cent of its used cars being trouble-free, which is better than the 68 per cent it rated in the 2002 survey.

Consumer Reports also tracked extremes from 2007 models, using five that started out with few problems and stayed reliable as they turned five years old, and five that started out with a few more problems and got much worse over time. The 2007 Toyota Prius averaged six problems per 100 cars in its first year, and 26 problems at age five. The Mini Cooper S averaged nine problems per 100 cars in its first year, and 113 by age five.

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