Can You Research Car Reliability for Free?

By Tara Baukus MelloLifestyle and

Dear Driving for Dollars, 

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I'm starting to shop for a new car (well, new to me) and I know that it's important to check out the reliability ratings for the cars I'm looking at. Is there a way to do that for free?

- Kevin

Dear Kevin,

You are a smart man to look at a car's reliability ratings before you decide to buy it. The largest resource of this data is Consumer Reports, which publishes an annual study of both new and used cars where the information is gathered on about 1.1 million cars driven by its magazine and website subscribers. But this information does require a small charge for either buying the magazine issue with the data or buying at least a one-month subscription to the data online.

For car reliability information that is truly free, you can look online at web forums designed for owners of specific cars. has numerous forums set up for a wide array of different models, so you might start there.

Other companies such as J.D. Power and CarMD perform annual reliability studies that they release to the public for free. These focus on either car reliability as a brand or on cars that get top rankings in the studies, so it's possible you may not see the data for the cars you are interested in.

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