Friday, October 26, 2012

Consumer Reports: Used/New Car Buying

I just bought a car recently after doing some research for a couple of years. Yes, I said a couple of years. I knew absolutely nothing about cars; so, to catch me up on different types available, I searched every company site and listed each type of vehicles being advertised, price (I limited my search to everything under $25k), picture, and mpg based on the basic automatic models. That’s a lot of information to obtain and very grueling depending on the site...hence the years part. There was no rush at the time because I couldn't afford it, and I had a good running vehicle so I took my time compiling all the data necessary until the time when it would come in handy. Anyway, after compiling all that data, I put it into an Excel spreadsheet to compare and contrast. It narrowed down my list of vehicles to a certain extent, but I still had quite a few on my list and no other way to narrow down besides closing my eyes and pointing randomly at a vehicle on my list.

Then my friend and then-boss, Janie, introduced me to Consumer Reports. Luckily, the Dick Smith Library subscribes to this, so it’s a free service to use for staff, faculty, and students. I found that I absolutely love their Buying Guide. You can find it in the periodicals section of the library or you can search Discovery@TarletonLibraries for “Consumer Reports Buying Guide” and it will pull up the most recent buying guide. You can save the PDF to your personal folder and take it with you when going looking for cars in case you forget or see something new that you hadn’t considered.

Consumer Reports lists all the problem areas for each vehicle per dealer per year. It provides an average rating scale for each vehicle per year as well as an overall rating based on “the percentage of survey respondents who reported problems for that trouble spot, compared with the average of all vehicles for that year” – Consumer Reports. It’s interesting to see how each car measures up to the other, and definitely helped to narrow down my search. However, I do have to state that not all cars find their way into Consumer Reports. For example, I have no idea why they don’t have ratings for the Chevrolet Camaro prior to 2010. I know they were out then, so I’m not sure why they weren’t included. The Kia Rio is not listed either, and there are newer models that won’t show up on the list until they have the necessary data to be compiled and presented. All in all, it takes about 2 years for a car to show up in the Consumer Reports Buying Guide.

Either way, if you’re looking for a new or used car, I would start with Consumer Reports. It’s been the most helpful database with car shopping as well as other important purchases. Not only does it compile data for cars, but it also compiles data for cell phones, appliances, and electronics and many more things. So, you might want to check it out next time you’re shopping for something expensive. It might just save you a ton of money and a whole lot of grief from buying something that's probably not going to measure up to your expectations

P.S. This has nothing to do with Consumer Reports, but it's just a helpful little tip that I found out when I went car shopping. You want to compare and contrast dealerships as well as cars when shopping. Some dealerships just have the worst service and others are very helpful and efficient. So, just be aware of that little tidbit as well. The site I visited to find this information out was, but there are others as well. 

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