The trouble with new cars
Who doesn’t get that kid in a candy story kind of feeling when you walk into a new car show room, especially if it’s a new model or a redesign vehicle that has been rolled out? But a survey of thousands of consumers might have you putting on the brakes about making a buying decision.
A "redesigned" vehicle might seem enticing. The body, engine, transmission infotainment systems and other parts often get a significant update. However, after surveying its members, Consumer Reports crunched reliability data on 420,000 vehicles that reveal potential problems car buyers need to know.
“We found in the first year of a redesign, cars often have problems because of the updates. We’ve had a number of redesigned models with transmission, in-car electronics and infotainments problems, among others,” said Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Reports auto expert.
Consumer Reports proprietary analysis shows that vehicles tend to most reliable by the final year of any particular model run, typically five to seven years, when most of the kinks have been worked out.
So how do you know if the new car you’re about to buy is either a fresh redesigned model or more seasoned veteran? There are a few terms to keep an eye one.
Freshening: This refers to minor updates that can occur in the middle of an existing model’s production run. Sometimes that means styling tweaks such as a new grille, headlight design or paint colour options. Some models might even get an updated engine or transmission.
Redesign: Updated versions of a model that has been sold for at least one generation. For example, the Mercedes-Benz GLE and Ford Explorer are existing models that were completely redesigned for 2020. It could involve many components and some will grow or shrink the size of the car. The more extensive or complicated the redesign, the higher the risk of reliability problems.
All-new: When used properly denotes a debut model, never built before, or reintroduced after having been off the market for years, like the Toyota Supra. Some all-new models could share some major components with an existing model, such as the Cadillac XT6 and GMC Acadia SUVs. They can have fewer problems because some bugs have already been identified and sorted out.
Consumer Reports says if there’s a car that you’re looking at that has been redesigned, ask the dealer whether there are any previous generation models available. It could save you money and some frustrating trips to the service centre.
With files from Consumer Reports