For most car owners, the most desirable feature isn’t torque, horsepower, or connectivity. It’s reliability. Most people need to get to work, to the grocery store, to soccer practice, and to myriad other destinations, and they want to get there uneventfully. The last person they want to visit is the dealership mechanic.
Of course, we all know it doesn’t always work that way. Some cars are more needy than others. They can’t seem to make it through a week without calling attention to some little problem they’re having.
Here, we list a few of those needy cars, based on amazingly detailed data gathered by the Consumers Union from a survey of 1.1 million car owners. The cars in this list are some of the worst from 2013, getting the lowest possible overall rating from Consumer Reports. For more detailed information about your car or one you’ve got your eye on, we encourage readers to learn more here (subscription required).
Click on the Chevy Camaro V6 below to start the slideshow.
Consumer Reports’ readers dinged the Chevy Camaro V6 for its climate system, paint, and trim. The sports car also exhibited problems with its torque converter. (Source: Consumer Reports)
bobengr: In my case, my cars have NEVER visited the dealer's shop. And rarely any other shop (like paint or bodywork, or wheel alignment).
I perform almost all maintenance at home. And it is not much, really. Like periodic sparkplug changes (on turbocharged engines that do not like platinum tipped plugs), oil changes complete with flush and filter change, Combustion chamber cleaning using Chrysler foam (to help with severe local emissions testing)... a few sensor replcements (Oxygen sensor, one or two TPS, etc. and a couple of timing belt/coolant pump replacements together with hoses, nothing more than $40 or $50 a piece. Anything additional to that would make me think my car is terribly sick! And just looking at the rates for mechanics along the life of the vehicle makes me happy I've been able to save more than enough for another car, just from refraining from visiting the shop! But I simply cannot find what can be done to a contemporary car every 3,000 miles or so. I would be happy to know what kind of problems have your cars presented, that have not been completely solved, and how those services have helped you.
Trying to argue with a manager in a "Status-Quo" industry is like fighting city hall. The idiots are in power, and you are considered a fool ..... by an idiot.Detroit in 1974 should have seen the writing on the wall; as should have the telecom giants in the 90's.Its so easy to spot incompetence in History, isn't it-?
I know what you're saying, Bunter. I thought my cars were pretty good when they got 100,000 miles. But now I have one with 209,000 miles on it, almost no repairs, and I plan to go to 250,000. I now look back at the old 100,000-mile car and wonder what I was thinking back then.
SOme of it probably is denial. But I think some is simply what you are used to.
If you are used to a certain level of reliability and have been satisfied that is what "reliable" looks like to you. You sincerely believe it "normal" even if it is statistically sub-par.
Also, in general all brands are improving, thus my new brand x car is better than the previous which was better than the one before that...etc. So, I'm happy, and that is OK.
Cars are a major purchase and noone like to feel he/she was foolish on a major decision-especially one that is emotional and for many tied to deeper ideas like patriotism. Evidence to the contrary can mean painfull changes and doubt.
I suspect those with less reliable brands typically have no idea how little trouble some of the rest of us have with our cars. I hear them talk about the latest repair and think "how do they put up with it". But a reliable car is remakable in how little attention it draws to itself.
The trick is "seeing the un-seen" (to borrow a concept from Bastiat in economics).
I have a good friend who owns three German cars and he is convinced that Consumer Reports hates all European vehicles. I've told him that the reliabity ratings are based on more than a million responses, and not on a single person's bias, but he'll have none of it.
Thanks for the thoughts Charles. I've seen a lot of these criticisms before in auto enthusiast forums-when I see a blog about CR I know these canards will pop up like daisies. Every time. The types of speculative reasoning/justification for dismissing the data are pretty standard every time. It continues to amaze me that many folks really do not understand that the results come from the owners of the car, not CR staff. Wow.
I really appreciate that they break out the info so you can see which areas were problematic and they cover 10 years so one can spot trends and see if problems from a given year are typical or isolated to one period.
The JDP VDS has it's value but it is done primarily for the industry, not consumers. It only surveys original owners at 3 years of ownership (IQS is at 90 days IIRC). This misses anyone that had such a rotten first couple of years that they traded off early. Their data also, I think I mentioned earlier, tracks more intangibles, like NVH complaints, which seems to drive up the lux brands scores and rather depress the scores of companies that market primarily to the bottom and middle.
IIRC the tariff on light trucks is refered to as the "chicken tax" because it was in retaliation to a tax on importing poultry to Japan. I believe Toyota used to import PUs without a bed and install an American manufactured bed in the states to get around this tax.
On the small car side I think part of it has been learning the market and taking it seriously.
Ford's Focus and Fiesta seem to get excellent reviews these days and the Cruze and Sonic also seem competitive. They just wasted a few decades with half hearted efforts.
You're right that the Big 3 has never shown much interest in small cars, GTOlover. The high cost of union labor and benefits has always made it tougher for Detroit to make money off small cars. I believe there is also a matter of tariff protection on light trucks that doesn't exist on small cars, so it always has, and probably always will, be easier for GM, Ford and Chrysler to make money off bigger vehicles.
Like you, I trust the CR reliability ratings, Bunter, largely because they are based on more than a million responses. Everyone has their personal biases, which is why I rarely quote performance evaluations from any magazine. But the reliability ratings are based on hundreds or even thousands of personal biases, which I hope will even out. A few years ago, I reported on a poor reliabity rating that CR gave to the Saturn Ion, which I happen to own and have had pretty good luck with. I'm glad I did it -- GM has since identified that Ion as one of the cars with the famous ignition problem, which I believe was called out by owners in the CR survey.
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