Consumer Reports National Research Center's annual predicted reliability ratings can steer you to a good choice.
The big news this year? Ford, which did well last year, dropped 10 places in Consumer Reports' rankings. The recently redesigned Ford Fiesta, Focus and Explorer all rated below average in the survey.
"This shows why we advise against buying a new or newly redesigned model. Often all the kinks aren't worked out yet," said Rik Paul of Consumer Reports.
The MyFord Touch infotainment system also showed up as a problem. Most GM brands were also down a bit, while Chrysler was up. The most reliable American brand is Jeep, at number 13 on the list.
"Hybrids also did very well, accounting for about 20 percent of the models with the highest reliability ratings, even though they make up only a small fraction of the market," said Paul.
In fact, two hybrids topped the list as the most reliable vehicles: the Lexus CT 200h and the Honda CR-Z.
Also of note, the Chevy Volt earned an excellent rating, which is a step toward dispelling fears the new electronic technology will pose problems.
So spend less time in the repair shop by making good use of Consumer Reports' reliability ratings.
All in all, the Japanese carmakers did the best in the survey, snagging nine of the top 10 spots. For the fourth year in a row, the Toyota Scion had the fewest problems, followed by Lexus, Acura, Mazda and Honda.