For many people, buying a used car is by far the best choice. Used cars allow you to avoid the worst of a vehicle’s depreciation, while also allowing you to purchase a vehicle at a price point that is suitable for their budget – so wins all round.
When buying a used car, focusing on reliability is incredibly important. As used cars are not usually supplied with a manufacturer’s warranty, any issues the vehicle experiences will, in most cases, be your financial responsibility – so you want to ensure that your chosen vehicle is going to be able to stay on the road as long as possible. For the most part, the goal of purchasing a trustworthy vehicle is usually met by only buying a used car from reputable dealers such as LMC and checking the car’s paperwork and history, and reading online reader reviews – but is the latter such a good idea?
The benefits of user-generated reliability reviews
If you buy a brand new vehicle, then you largely have to take the manufacturer at their word when they make claims regarding reliability. After all, the car may perform very well in tests, but no manufacturer can guarantee that their vehicle won’t break down when in use – faults happen, as evidenced by the fact that recalls can and do happen.
However, when you buy a used car, you have the opportunity to read reviews from individuals who have owned the same make and model of vehicle for a number of years. This allows you to directly access real-world experience. If you read several reviews from owners of the same type of car you have been considering, and reliability issues are consistently noted, then you may feel that avoiding that specific vehicle is likely to be the best choice.
Is this necessarily the case?
It’s nice to be able to check the real-world user histories of a specific make and model of vehicle you are considering, but doing so is also fraught with complications.
How can reviews be problematic? Simple: reliability is almost entirely subjective. Though some vehicles do indeed have quirks, or parts that are liable to break down, these issues are rarely consistent; they will happen only to some vehicles. For example, you may read that a specific model of car is known for having clutch issues, but that does not mean that every single model of that car has – or will – experience clutch issues.
The reason for this discrepancy is found in maintenance and usage habits. No two people drive, maintain, and care for a car in the same way. Two cars that roll off the production line one after each other may go on to have very different lives; one may be seen as incredibly unreliable, but the other performs flawlessly for 100,000 miles – the outcome entirely depends on the actions of each car’s owner.
So should you read user-generated reliability reviews?
You can do, but try to take everything you read with a pinch of salt. Instead, it’s best to focus on the specific car you are trying to buy and its current condition as, ultimately, this alone is far more influential on a car’s longevity than its make and manufacturer.