Buying Advice

New cars aren't the most reliable according to new Consumer Reports survey

Consumer Reports' annual survey has concluded that most new cars aren't as reliable as older models.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Consumer Reports has released the results from its Annual Auto Reliability Survey. According to its survey, nearly half of new and redesigned 2019 models have below-average predicted reliability. The most reliable are those that are near the end of their generational run.

Why? Simply put, it takes manufacturers a few years to work out all the engineering and production kinks to get a new model where it needs to be to be considered reliable.

Here's how Consumer Reports calculates reliability:

Every year, CR asks its members about problems they've had with their cars, minivans, SUVs, and trucks in the previous 12 months. This year we gathered data on 420,000 vehicles, spanning the 2000 to 2019 model years. Members reported on problems in any of 17 trouble areas, including engine, transmission, in-car electronics, and more. We use that data to calculate reliability ratings for every major mainstream vehicle.

The predicted reliability for the 2020 models on is based on each model's overall reliability for the past three years. We do this for redesigned models by analyzing the brand's reliability history, the previous generation's reliability, and if applicable, the reliability of models the vehicle shares components with. These are our predictions, and reliability can change if the automaker resolves problems or creates new ones by freshening the model.

How do you know if the model you're buying is reliable? Besides checking ratings from trusted institutions like Consumer Reports and JD Power, you can use some basic buying advice:

  • Expect that there will be recalls. Check out the recall history of the models you're shopping. New models likely don't have many recalls at first, but their recall history builds as they age.
  • Search forums looking for common service issues that seem to keep arising. If a certain vehicle is known for having a recurring issue, it may be best to skip it. At the very least, you'll be better informed about what you're getting yourself into.
  • Small hiccups are normal when a model is introduced. Realize that automakers and their parts suppliers generally take two to three years to get production and parts manufacturing down to a science, especially if the model is "all new" and doesn't have many/any carryover parts from the previous generation.
  • Remember, many technology issues can be solved by over-the-air updates or quick dealership visits. Do not hesitate to call a dealer and ask if these are included with your purchase.
  • The production process and level of attention given to each model can dictate what the quality of the product is. The 2018 Tesla Model 3 has had numerous issues arise including cracks in the rear window glass, loose trim, and paint defects. However, many of these issues had been resolved by the 2019 model year.
  • When buying used car, be sure a licensed mechanic has given the car a thorough once-over and is able to tell you where the wear patters are in the vehicle and if they're appropriate for the vehicle's age. Buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle can help alleviate some of the concern in this area.

Most importantly, don't just take one source's opinion as gospel.


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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Skoda recently sponsored a poll of 2,000 U.K. car owners to find out what they've named their vehicle.

Photo courtesy of Skoda

Rhonda the Honda? Jack the Cadillac? Mamba the Mazda? Bullet the Mustang? Some of us have chosen to name our cars just for the fun of it while others have been pushed into it by registering their vehicle with the manufacturer's website to schedule maintenance.

A March 2020 poll of 2,000 motorists in the U.K. revealed that nearly a third of respondents have named their car. Thirty-two percent said that they have given their car a name, with a quarter of those saying that they have named three or more vehicles in their lifetime.

GOodyear car name generator graphic Goodyear has provided a helpful car name generator.Photo country of Goodyear

Some of the respondents divulged their vehicle names with 450 examples given. Some were repeats including: Betty, Freddie, Daisy, and Rosie. Other answers were more unique with Beyoncé, Harrison Ford, and Elvis Presley all being listed. Bubbles, Beast, The Brussel Sprout, Zorro, and Ketchup were also shared.

Other owners revealed that they had named their vehicles after family members or loved ones.

Why did they choose the names? The most popular reasons given was simply because it made the car owner chuckle (29 percent). Twenty percent of drivers picked a name because they thought the car looked like that particular name.

The survey also found that female drivers were almost twice as likely as male drivers to name their car, meanwhile, men were much more likely to use the name of a loved one or relative (12 percent) compared to women (six percent).

Where people live dictates how likely they were to give their vehicle a nickname. Thirty-seven percent of those living in the West Midlands named their model while 25 percent of those living in Scotland and Wales were likely to have the same behavior.

It's not unusual for owners to be attached to their vehicles but 10 percent of motorists surveyed said that they love their car more than their spouse or partner. One in seven said that the love of their vehicle superseded their love for their parents or siblings.

The survey was sponsored by Skoda.

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Many automakers are offering incentives to spur buyers into purchasing.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

According to a new survey by auto-shopping website Autolist.com, zero-percent financing offers currently have the biggest impact on car sales. Nearly half of the 1,436 respondents chose that option from a list as part of a survey conducted in April, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

"These are highly unusual and uncertain times for all consumers thanks to the coronavirus," said Chase Disher, analyst at Autolist. "So it's no wonder that car shoppers prefer the long-term stability that zero-interest loans provide."

As part of the survey, respondents were asked to pick up to three types of incentives that would make them more likely to buy or lease a new or used vehicle at that moment. Survey takers could choose from the following options: zero-percent financing, flexible payment plans for loans or leases, deferred payments at the beginning of the loan or lease, limited-time payment forgiveness if a buyer loses their job, owner loyalty cash, waiving of late fees on loan or lease payments, other, unsure.

The results were as follows:

  • Zero-interest financing: 48 percent.
  • Flexible payment plans for loans or leases: 32 percent.
  • Deferred payments at the beginning of the loan or lease: 27 percent.
  • Limited-time payment forgiveness if a buyer loses their job: 24 percent.
  • Owner loyalty cash: 17 percent.
  • Waiving of late fees on loan or lease payments: 16 percent.
  • Other: 10 percent.
  • Unsure: 10 percent

Additionally, 13 percent of those who answered the survey said none of these offers would make them more likely to buy a car during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Consumers' mood really bottomed out in late March and early April, according to our poll," Disher said. "And while there is still a lot of uncertainty about recovery in the next few months, our data is showing that car shoppers are feeling confident in the long-term health of the economy and their decision to buy a car in 2020."

Most automakers are currently offering some level of incentive in an attempt to spur customers into purchasing. Autolist has a full rundown of the incentives that automakers are offering during the COVID-19 pandemic is available here.

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