A new study dispels the idea that cars in their first year of production or those that have undergone a major makeover are more problematic than car models that haven't seen any major changes for a while.
New or fully redesigned cars do not have more problems than car models that have been in production for a while, according to the 2013 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study by J.D. Power and Associates released last week.
The study found that for the first time since the study began in 1989, there are fewer reported problems for all-new or fully redesigned models than there are for cars that are unchanged -- so-called carryover models -- from the prior year. Redesigned and new cars averaged 116 problems per 100 vehicles, while carryover cars averaged 111 problems per 100 vehicles.
In past years of the study, new and redesigned cars have had a higher occurrence of problems, fueling the perception that cars are more problematic the first year of production or the year immediately after a major redesign. To calculate the rate of problems for the 2013 study, J.D. Power surveyed more than 37,000 original owners of 2010 model-year cars between October 2012 and December 2012 -- about three years after purchasing the car.
The study also found that all cars are at historically high levels of dependability. Overall dependability ratings for cars averaged 126 problems per 100 vehicles, a 5 percent improvement over 2012 when the average was 132 problems per 100 vehicles. The 2013 rate is the lowest since the research firm began the study in 1989.
So if you have been eyeing one of the hot new models or a redesigned one, you can feel more assured that you'll have no more problems than you would with the models that have been around for a while. However, keep in mind that the all-new designs tend to be in higher demand, which can make it harder to get a good deal, meaning you'll end up paying more on your car loan.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.