What are consumer ratings of used cars?
Finding a quality car is difficult enough when shopping for new models let alone when choosing between used car models. Fortunately, the Internet provides a host of car ratings and review resources, many of which are geared towards used cars.
Consumer ratings on used cars are one of the categories used by rating and review sites in determining the overall quality of each car model.
Different sites emphasize different areas when rating cars so consumers may want to pay attention to these areas when comparing different review sites.
Online rating agencies gather information from various sources and compile rating scores for different used car models. Some of the more well-known online rating agencies include:
· J.D. Power and Associates
· Consumer Reports
Both J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports place a heavier emphasis on consumer ratings than Edmunds when determining overall rating scores for each car.
Consumer information comes from people who’ve actually bought and used the cars so much of the information is based on consumer buyer experiences.
Different rating agencies display consumer scoring results in different ways. For example, J.D. Power and Associates uses “All Power Circles” to indicate a car’s overall ratings.
Based on one out of five “circles”, cars with a five circle rating scored the highest overall.
With Consumer Reports, consumer rating results are based on different colors with “red” being a good rating and “black” being a bad rating.
Cars that have no color indicators fall within the average range of the rating scale.
The consumer ratings information compiled by rating agencies use different tools to gather information. Consumer surveys and polls provide a wealth of information in areas involving:
· Customer satisfaction
· Car reliability
· Sales satisfaction
· Service satisfaction
· Performance and design indicators
Some of the agencies, such as Consumers Reports may list more detailed ratings information based on actual components of each car. Some of the components listed include:
· Electrical system
· Fuel system
· Engine cooling
· Engine performance
Based on a used car’s overall rating, some agencies may provide a “Used Car Prediction” score. This score attempts to predict how long a consumer can expect a particular type of car to last and the types of problems to expect in the future.
Quality & Reliability Ratings
Consumer-based ratings on used car quality and reliability represent two major scoring categories used by rating agencies. Some agencies, such as J.D. Power use information from new car buyers to determine a used car’s initial quality rating.
Initial quality ratings are good indicators of how a car will perform in its later years. New car buyers receive surveys 90 days after the date of purchase. These surveys request information on the mechanical and design quality of the car. Survey question also address any defects or malfunctions that occur within this 90 day period.
Consumer-based reliability ratings are determined from surveys given to people who’ve owned a car for three years. These results are published in the Vehicle Dependability Study. Survey questions address 200 potential problem areas encountered within the three year ownership period.
Service & Performance Ratings
As every car requires servicing at one time or another, rating agencies can gather information from certified car centers and dealerships to find out how often different car models are serviced.
Agencies also survey customers regarding their service experience and in terms of costs and overall satisfaction.
Service rating indicators provide an idea of how often a used car will require servicing based on past service records.
Service records also provide information on potential problem areas most likely to require service and/or repair.
Performance rating surveys measure the “enjoyment” factor in terms of a customer’s driving experience with a car. Rating surveys can vary depending on the type of car involved, such as sports cars versus passenger cars.
Survey questions ask how well a car handles and any specific likes or dislikes customers have towards their particular car model.
As different consumer ratings agencies base their information on different aspects of consumer car experiences, it may be helpful to combine rating scores from different sites to get an overall rating on used car models.
It’s always best to start out with a list of potential car models and narrow down the best choices from there.
Cars that score poorly are most likely not good choices and may develop problems sooner rather than later after a purchase is made.
When researching different consumer rating sites, keep in mind that some sites charge a fee to access needed information while others may provide the same information free of charge.
So, it pays to survey all the rating sites before actually signing up for one versus another.
Many of the used car ratings sites will also list the true market values for different used car models. This information arms consumers with fair pricing guidelines that can come in handy when it comes time to purchase a used car.
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