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Why Chevy Vehicles Really Aren’t More Dependable Than Ford Vehicles

Auto giants Ford and Chevrolet have been America’s biggest rivals since their earliest beginnings. Though much has changed with the vehicles they make, Ford and Chevy are still in a constant race to be the best. But which American brand is truly the most reliable?

Who’s the most reliable automaker in 2020?

Every year, J.D. Power releases its Vehicle Dependability Study, which closely analyzes how owners are enjoying their three-year-old model vehicles to determine which automakers are making the most reliable cars. According to Auto Guide, the Vehicle Dependability Study is now in its 31st year and the results are always interesting.

The newest 2020 study analyzes owners of 2017 models and the “number of issues they’ve had in the last 12 months.” J.D. Power then assigns a vehicle a score based on problems presented in every 100 vehicles (a “PP100” score). The more points a brand earns, the more problems have presented themselves. Including nearly 180 potential problem areas that are divided amongst eight categories, the 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study results “are the best in the history of the study.”

While luxury brands like Genesis and Lexus topped the list with low PP100 scores of 89 and 100, some of the most interesting scores came from American car giants Chevy and Ford. Always in a constant rivalry for a spot as “top brand,” it was  Chevrolet that came out ahead of Ford, but only slightly. Chevrolet ties for ninth place as the most reliable automaker, alongside BMW, with PP100 scores of 123. Ford may have barely made it into the last spot in the top 10 but still only earned three more PP100 points than Chevy, with 126.

Is Ford falling from grace?

A Ford Focus ST is seen during the Vienna Car Show press preview at Messe Wien, as part of Vienna Holiday Fair
The Ford Focus | Manfred Schmid/Getty Images

Though it appears Ford is the clear loser here, it’s important to note that the automaker climbed 20 PP100 points in the newest study over the previous year. According to J.D. Power, Ford’s performance in the 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study didn’t even land it into the top 10 and fell far below industry standards with a PP100 score of 146. That score was even higher in the 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study at 152 PP100.

But, as the largest-producing brands in the country, Ford’s dependability appears to be consistently getting better. Ford earned the top spot as the most dependable model in the large light-duty pickup and large car categories in 2018 but outranked everybody else in the large heavy-duty pickup category in 2019.

Even though Chevy beat out Ford in the 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study, Chevy seems to be losing its position in recent years. In 2018, Chevrolet earned a score of 124 PP100 and was placed fifth among all brands. In 2019, Chevy’s score improved a little, to 115 PP100 and impressively placing it into fourth place for the year. But in the current year, other brands have improved so much that Chevy’s fairly-consistent score of 123 PP100 forced it back into ninth place. 

Chevy vs. Ford: who really makes the most reliable vehicles?

Consumer Reports uses an annual auto survey to ask owners how they are enjoying their vehicles. Using this data, they form average reliability ratings for those vehicles under specific model years. Using an average reliability rating of all the vehicles in a brand’s lineup, Consumer Reports can provide a reliability rating for each of those brands. And, according to Consumer Reports’ research, neither Chevrolet or Ford earned its way into the top 10 most reliable brands for 2020.

But Ford’s vehicles earned way higher reliability scores than Chevy, earning it the 16th place among all brands. Ford’s average vehicle reliability score came to 50, including scores from nine vehicles. Chevy, on the other hand,  had 11 vehicles in the race and earned a super-low average reliability score of 37. Falling three spots over the previous year, Chevy sits as Consumer Reports’ 24th most reliable brand out of 30 total brands.