wordpress stats

Detailed Reliability data pinpoints problems

By: · February 24, 2010

Ever want even more insight into the problems reported through our Annual Auto Survey? A new feature online gives ConsumerReports.org Cars Best Deals Plus subscribers access to the most frequent problems behind the familiar trouble spots featured online and in our print publications. That extra level of detail could tip off current owners on what to be wary of, and it could influence purchase decisions for new and used car buyers.

The survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center queried respondents about 17 general problem areas, each of which covers a host of possible faults. For instance the category “Power Equipment” includes keyless entry, dashboard warning lights, tire-pressure monitor, and other things. “Major Engine” problems include cylinder head and timing belt besides replacing the engine itself, while “Minor Engine” includes oil leaks, accessory belts and engine mounts.

All online subscribers can access a car’s reliability history by hitting the Reliability tab on a given model-overview page. That history shows a grid of our familiar red and black scoring icons covering each of the 17 trouble areas, going back up to 10 model years. The Reliability tab on new and used cars will show that some ratings are flagged with a gold corner triangle with a “+” sign indicating that more specific details are available. Users who upgrade to a Cars Best Deals Plus subscription can click on that triangular corner tab to see information on the problems owners have experienced.

As an example, looking at the Ford F-150 pickup, we can see that the 2008 model had climate system problems. Clicking on the flag reveals that the major gripe was the automatic climate system control rather than, say, a problem with the air conditioner.

Not all trouble spots are flagged. That’s because either no or very few specific problems were reported, or because nothing stood out enough in the sub-categories to warrant special mention.

The reliability details available to Cars Best Deals Plus subscribers should prove especially valuable for used-car shoppers. By getting a sharper picture of what has gone wrong, they can judge whether this is something to be concerned about or something they can live with. If, say, a particular model has needed an inordinate number of transmission replacements, a shopper might look at a different one. Or as in the example with the F-150, the problem may not relate to the trim or equipment you are considering.

Information is power, and for the 2010 model year, ConsumerReports.org has more horses under its hood. If you’re in the market for a new or used car, Cars Best Deals Plus can be a powerful research tool.

Gordon Hard

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.