You’ve decided it’s time to buy a new car, and for once, it’s going to be a real new car that’s fresh off the showroom floor. As you go over the reviews to try to decide which model makes your heart skip a beat, there are five essential things you need to know about new car reviews.
Beware of Car of the Year Awards
It might seem as if a car receiving a Car of the Year (COTY) award must be great, but experts throughout the car industry say otherwise. Those awards are typically given out so that automakers will advertise the vehicle in a given publication. They really don’t mean all that much, which was evidenced by the Ford Focus back in 2000. All the major publications like Car and Driver and Motor Trend offered up plenty of awards – then ate crow when reports came in from consumers that the car stalled, the wheels collapsed and it accelerated on its own.
A Look at Testing
The testing that auto publications do when a new model year vehicle comes out are often rigorous, but short-lived. These tests offer a picture of how a car does in the short-term, but that doesn’t reflect what may happen over a long period of use. If you can hold off until other consumers start leaving reviews or even making complaints to the NHTSA, you’ll gain a better understanding of what to expect out of the vehicle.
Look at Multiple Rankings
Just as you wouldn’t base a decision on what one person has to say about a product, you shouldn’t do it with a vehicle. Make sure you look at multiple new car reviews to get a better picture of the rankings overall. That way, if one publication misses something or doesn’t focus on specific aspects, you’ll find out about it from another source.
Look for Commonalities
As you read through the reviews, make sure you are noting anything that is repeated from one publication to another. This is one of the best ways to avoid buying a car that has problems or the potential for them.
Stick with Known Publications
New car reviews from publications such as Consumer Reports, the Automobile Protection Association and J.D. Power and Associates are all unbiased, and offer input from actual car owners to help you gain a better understanding of the vehicle.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 5 Essential Things to Know About New Car Reviews and was authored by Valerie Johnston.