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Top 10 Vehicles Least Likely to Have a Check Engine Light

Trucks and SUVs dominate this Top 10 list.

Automotive diagnostic business solution supplier has surveyed cars on American roads to find out which are the top 10 that get the fewest “Check Engine” warnings.

A bit of good news is that the frequency of the light illuminating for even the worst vehicle is pretty low, so the infrequent warnings in the best model come about 50 percent less often than in the worst model, which is a domestic SUV that CarMD did not name.

CarMD studied data from more than 19.5 million unique model year 1996 to 2020 vehicles reporting check engine health to identify the cars least likely to need check engine repairs.

To rank these brands, CarMD developed an Index frequency score formulated by the lowest percentage of repair incidents per percentage of vehicle population

If that light does illuminate, the most frequent causes are:

  1. Catalytic Converter
  2. Replace Oxygen Sensor(s)
  3. Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s)
  4. Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as necessary
  5. Replace Mass Air Flow Sensor

Looking over the list of top finishers, a theme is apparent. These are older models with simpler drivetrains. Top models are longer-running models that have been well sorted by their manufacturers. Or, they are earlier naturally aspirated versions of current vehicles that pre-date current complex turbocharged powertrains.

This suggests that there is a penalty in the reduction of headache-free driving in the move to the current generation of hybrid-electric and direct-injected, turbocharged drivetrains.

“Having a reliable vehicle to drive and reducing the likelihood of costly car repairs is particularly important as we wrap up 2020 – a year that has brought many challenges,” said David Rich, CarMD’s technical director. “CarMD publishes this annual report to help vehicle owners and used car shoppers make better-informed buying and service decisions, and to encourage drivers to seek repairs when the check engine light comes on.”

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