Top 5 most reliable cars
But there are some things that are risky bets nearly across the board.
For example, Reed says most high-end performance and sports cars, such as Ferrari, will likely require much more maintenance than their slower counterparts. And Linkov warns that the more complex a vehicle's components are, the less reliable they tend to be. So, if reliability is your virtue, that supercharged engine might be the wrong choice.
"But that's not a hard and fast rule," Linkov says. "Look at a hybrid. Those are very complex, but most of them have enjoyed very high reliability so far."
He says the primary thing to be wary about is with cutting-edge electronics and optional features that haven't been around for very long.
The good news is, if you end up paying a premium for reliability, you could end up reaping a nice reward when it comes time to trade in your ride for a newer model.
That's because, as a rule, the more reliable a car is, the better it will hold its value over time.
"One of the things you have to understand is that this is based on perception," Reed says. "If people think the car will hold up, then the value will hold. But remember, we are making predictions here and nobody can know for sure how long a car will last."
But just because a car is reliable doesn't mean it will be worth much at resale.
"For it to hold its value it has to be both reliable and desirable," Linkov says. "You may have something that is reliable but not aesthetically pleasing, and that isn't likely to hold its value -- think about a full-size sedan or something along those lines."
So, how do you sort out what will hold up over time?
One strong resource Reed suggests is to search online databases for recalls and reading forums geared toward existing owners, such as the ones on Edmunds.com. If current owners are complaining about a problem, that might be something you should look out for.
"What you need to be sure is that you don't look at any single instance and assume it is an endemic problem," Reed says. "It may just be an anomaly. So, you need to go out as broadly as you can and search several different sources."
Linkov warns against relying too heavily on online forums, though, because you really can't be sure where the information is coming from and whether that source can be trusted.
Other sources include reliability surveys produced by organizations like J.D. Power & Associates and Consumer Reports.