Yonkers, NY — With the price of new cars soaring and inventories limited, Americans can ill-afford to gamble on a vehicle that will cause problems. Consumer Reports (CR), the nonprofit research, testing and consumer advocacy organization, today released findings from its latest Annual Auto Reliability Surveys that will help steer people to the new vehicles they can buy with confidence–and avoid the ones most likely to give them trouble.
Production disruptions and chip shortages caused by the global pandemic have created new-car shortages for the majority of automakers, making it hard for consumers to get their hands on the car, SUV, minivan, or truck they really want – at a price they can afford. The new-car shortages and high prices make reliability even more important. A car you can count on means you’ll never have to do without it for weeks or even months waiting on parts for repairs.
“The pandemic is creating a scramble for consumers as they face a reduced supply of new cars and significantly higher prices. That’s why it’s more important than ever that people get trusted help finding safe, secure, and reliable vehicles,” said Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “Our annual reliability reports, combined with our comprehensive auto testing, can empower consumers with the trusted information to make better purchases and navigate this unusually difficult marketplace.”
“To get a car right now, you might have to compromise on your preferred model, color, or options, and even your budget. But you don’t have to sacrifice reliability,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. “Our exclusive data will help you find a vehicle that won’t frustrate you with frequent trips back to the dealer.”
For more information on CR’s 2021 #CRCarReliability findings, visit CR.org/reliability or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @consumereports.
How Buy a Car in Today’s Challenging Market
CR’s advice for buyers in this unusual market: Act quickly and negotiate from an informed perspective. That can make the difference between getting a fair deal and leaving with no deal.
- Prearrange financing. Figure out your budget and get financing based on what you can afford to pay monthly, and as a down payment. It’s always a good idea to get financing set up through your bank or credit union before going to the dealership to look at cars because it gives you a baseline against which you can compare the terms of dealer financing, which may or may not be a good deal. But it’s especially important to prearrange financing now, when new cars are in such short supply. If a dealer has a car you like today, it’s probably a good idea to purchase immediately before someone else grabs it.
- See what’s available. If you’re shopping for a new car, dealers near you may not have exactly what you’re seeking. Instead of going to the dealership to see what it has, look on its website or call first. You may need to search several dealers to find something that’s close to what you’re looking for.
- Expand your geographic search. If dealers where you live don’t have the car you want, try sellers outside your area. Be cautious about casting your net too wide, though. You want to be able to go see the car and test drive it before signing a sales or leasing contract—especially for used cars—and with the market being as hot as it is right now, the car you’re looking at might not be there if you have to travel too far to get to it.
- Do your research. Whether buying new or used, consult Consumer Reports’ road tests and ratings, looking at reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety, and if you’re in the market, you can also look for the CR Recommended mark on certain models that meet our strict criteria. If you’re forced to pay more than usual for a new car, your best bet is probably going to be to keep it for the long haul. CR’s reviews and ratings can help make sure you buy something reliable that won’t give you problems later on.
- Compromise to a degree. Even if the dealer has the model you want, the car might not have some of your desired features. Decide which options are really important and whether a vehicle not having all of them means you should consider a different car. As for price, you might need to consider a different vehicle type. Large pickup trucks and SUVs have seen the biggest increases, while smaller cars, sedans, hatchbacks, and front-wheel drive SUVs have had smaller price hikes.
- Don’t borrow too much. If you’re paying 18 percent over MSRP for a Kia Telluride today, for example, consider what it will be worth when you trade it in. In other words, if you’re paying over MSRP today, consider how that might affect your future trade-in.
In addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers members access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of more than 12,000 participating dealers provides up-front pricing information and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). CR members have saved an average of $3,218 off MSRP through this service.
CR members can also search the Used Car Marketplace for vehicles for sale in their area, sorting by the factors that matter most. The listings include CR reliability and owner satisfaction ratings, and there’s a free Carfax report for most of the vehicles. Members can also access ratings and information on used vehicles going as far back as 20 years.
One-third (33 percent) of Americans who purchased a vehicle in the past year traded-in a vehicle, according to an October nationally representative CR survey of 2,036 U.S. adults. Of them, 35 percent said they received about what they thought their vehicle was worth. Roughly equal percentages said that they received less or much less than they thought the vehicle was worth (32 percent ) and more or much more than they thought it was worth (31 percent). CR members can also take advantage of our Car Value Estimator and tips on how to get the most money when trading in your car.
About Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Surveys
The latest Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Surveys, gathered information from the organization’s members on more than 300,000 vehicles from model years 2001 to 2021. CR’s reliability predictions are based on overall reliability for the past three model years, provided the vehicle has not been redesigned. One or two years of data will be used if the model was redesigned in 2020 or 2019. CR bases its reliability predictions on data gathered from CR’s members each year about problems they had with their vehicles. CR’s team of statisticians, researchers, and testers then analyzed trouble areas and created an overall reliability score for each model and year. Serious problem areas that can lead to expensive repairs are more heavily weighted. More information can be found at www.CR.org.