Hey folks, Cooley here with another one of your emails about high tech cars and modern driving.
This one comes in from [UNKNOWN] who says what do you think about Consumer Reports reliability rating?
They claim to be statistically unimpeachable but their results don't seem to line up well with other reliability surveys, Like third party companies that sell extended warranties, Interesting point because trying to guess the reliability on a car is definitely an art more than a science Now, you can use past data, and try and predict where things are going, but we all know from experience, that isn't always true.
How many of you have bought a car highly rated for reliability, and had it turn out to be a piece of crap?
Or vice versa.
How many of you are out there driving Fiat 500s or Minis, and they have worked out just great.
So let's take a look at what's going on here.
First of all, a very interesting source of information are these warranty issuers.
These companies who arguably have more to lose if they get it wrong than anybody else who's guessing reliability or dependability.
Unfortunately, they don't typically publish a lot of what they know about that.
I did find one company that sells these policies and offers some kind of a ranking online.
Not sure how accurate or detailed it is for public consumption, but it gives you some idea of where you might wanna go by pricing different policies before you buy a car and see where the prices are.
A more expensive one suggests A crummier car.
Now you bring up consumer reports.
Long the gold standard for a consumers to look up this kind of information.
What they do is called a reliability indicator.
Their estimations are based on a survey of consumer reports readers who report their non-collision problems over the previous 12 months With some 500000 of their personal vehicles across 18 model years.
That's a lot of information, and then consumer reports goes through it to predict reliability of that same make and model that you might buy new today Again a bit of a leap statistically I am sure their methods are good but you just don't know what tomorrows vehicle are going to be compared to the engineering in previous years.
Now JD Power got a similar report that a lot of people also know about theirs is a little different They cal it one of dependability not reliability.
Those are partly branding differentiation, but it is also different methodology underneath.
They power a large pool of real world car owners.
But the lens is on problems reported after a car is been owned for three years.
They also do a JD Power initial quality ranking.
And that's looking for bugs, perceived or real, in the first 90 days of ownership.
So as with any basket of apples and oranges, you gotta make yourself a fruit salad.
And here's what I think should go into that.
Look at all these ratings.
They all are valuable and taking different snapshots of what dependability or reliability is.
Then always bear in mind you can't just say, this make of car so they must all be good.
Some car makers do tend to make, basically, all good, solid cars but they've always got exceptions.
A certain model for a certain period of years that isn't working out and that brings me to the year question.
Always focus on the reliability of a given year of a car.
This is hard to do when they're new But if you're buying a recent used car, you have a trove of information you can look at to see how good was that car in 2014 let say versus guessing the future.
That's another reason I like used cars.
And the third thing I'll point out to you, is not that certain classes of cars do better that others.
Basic cars tend to score well on reliability a little more often.
The really elaborate cars.
The high end vehicles have cutting edge tech, a whole lot more of it, and not enough volume in some cases to debug it right.
If you spend a lot of money on a car you're actually going to have more headaches than if you buy a $30,000 vehicle.
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