I've seen their surveys back when I subscribed. They are little
better then opinion polls. You can say anything you want, you don't
document anything, there is no attempt to make the sample
statistically representative of anything, they just take the answers
from whichever subscribers feel like replying. If you paid $2000 more
for your Toyota then for a comparable Chevy you an be sure many of the
respondents are going to sugarcoat their experience, after all, they
are not going to want to face up to the fact that every Toyota
dealership has a big repair shop in the back just like every Chevy
And there we have the extent of the proof that CR has some inherent bias.
Of course the reality is that no one has ever suggested that a Toyota
owner is more likely to sugar-coat their experience than a Chevy owner.
In fact you could argue that the Toyota owner is more likely to complain
about problems because they have higher expectations.
And of course there has never been anything close to a $2000 difference
in identical vehicles, identically equipped, with identical warranties,
sold through different channels. There were MSRPs that were a few
hundred dollars apart, and street prices that were even fewer dollars apart.
I'm not so sure. People often over pay for things and swear it is a great
product at a great price because they don't want others to think less of
them or admit they made a mistake. No different than proudly wearing a shirt
with a little alligator logo while not getting caught wearing on with the
The number of people that don't want to admit that something they bought
has problems, simply because they paid a high price for it, is offset by
the number of people that complain more about any problems because they
paid a high price for it. In any case, the number of people that are so
inclined to exhibit these behaviors is very small.
I would love to see some data that proved that a Chevy owner filling out
a CR survey is more likely to put down problems that they've had, than a
Toyota owner filling out the same survey.
In any case, it's rather immaterial. You're not going to get any other
reliability survey that has such a large sample size with such a
correspondingly small margin of error.
The Consumer Reports test drives and evaluations are another story. Is
it bias to give more weight to reliability, safety, and value (which
favors companies like Toyota and Honda)?
Sure there is. I recall reading a study many years ago that people
commonly lie about certain things.
At that time ('70's I think) 2 of the top things they would lie about
is how much they paid for their house (more than they actually paid)
and the length in time of their commute (less than actual.)
I forgot the 3rd thing. Probably dick size or pissing distance.
My personal experience is that people are far more likely to brag
about themselves than to complain about their car selection
Jesus, we've all heard of "keeping up with the Jones" and seen it in
Not getting into statistical analysis methods, I'll note the CR has
NEVER given sampling sizes on a model basis. Only total surveys.
I am perfectly willing to be corrected on that.
And I won't make any claims about those numbers beyond the fact that
they could reveal a built in bias that is common in self-selected
surveys. Won't even say there is a useful element to the bias in the
end. Because I happen to think CR got it pretty right, and the bias
is a side issue in the end.
When I worked with a number of yuppies driving Hondas, I was more than
once asked for advice on CV joints by the very same people who would
swear their car was flawless. I never got on people about what they
drove, so they trusted me.
BTW, I think CR dropped CV joint problems from their survey when those
were still a significant expense/problem.
Claimed they weren't significant. I won't swear by any of that
though. Recollection, which is often flawed. I do recall looking at
my survey when I heard about it and there was no way to report CV
joint issues. Maybe my recall is flawed there too.
Personally, I think CR is a valuable resource despite any bias, and
also that they hammered some domestic cars by using a flawed
methodology of quality measurement.
They skewed their valuations in many middle cases - intentionally or
not - but got it real close to right on the highs on lows.
People don't keep buying dogs, and dogs bark.
A big part of that was useful to consumers, and part of it was plain
bias against the Big 3.
I don't have any sympathy for the Big 3. CR put the writing on the
wall, and they chose to ignore it. Anybody selling a product knows
that perception is a big part of realty. Big 3 did little to change
As an aside, I replaced a half shaft in a '85 Cavalier I had.
Only time I had a CV joint issue. Anecdote of the day.
And I still buy Chevys.
That, in large part, goes to the heart of the CU bias. Most of their
respondents were already of the mind set that domestic was crap and
imports were perfect. And they repeat that when they fill in their
survey forms. I see people all the time who buy an "import" for no
reason other then they don't want a domestic. And that includes
people who have run their previous domestics for way past 100K with no
more problems then the imports have. In other cases it's in spite of
having owned imports that fell apart around them. When someone has a
problem with their Toyota they just shrug it off, when someone has a
problem with their domestic they can't stop badmouthing it long enough
to breath. Go visit an import newsgroup and look at post after post
about blown head gaskets. Yet no one cares. But EVERYONE knows that
Ford 3.8's had some head gasket issues. Ditto for the Sludged up
Toyota engines - no one cares, after all, it's a Toyota!!!
You don't understand how the survey works. They aren't asking for a
subscriber's opinion of one product versus another, they're asking a
series of very specific questions that ask what, if any, problems an
owner has had with their vehicle.
There seems to be a perception that the CU survey ask questions like
'which is more reliable, a Toyota or a Chevy.'
I see people all the time who buy an "import" for no
Actually it's the opposite. The Toyota owner with a problem is upset
because they have the mindset of 'hey this is a Toyota, I'm not supposed
to have these problems,' while the Chevy owner shrugs it off with "well
it's a GM product, I expected this.'
In any case the number of owners that would lie when asked questions
regarding specific sub-systems of their vehicle, is small. No one has
ever shown any bias in the Consumer Reports surveys, either by the
respondents, or in the questions that are asked. It's all sour grapes
when someone complains. The complaint is usually along the line of 'well
_I_ never had xyz problem, so that means the survey is bogus.' These
people don't understand statistics or the necessity of a large sample
size in order to have valid data.
It's ALL opinion since no one has to send in any documentation to
support their claims. If someone wants to ignore the problems they
can just answer "no problems". You don't seem to understand human
nature. For this kind of survey to have any real validity beyond
being a popularity contest it would have to be based on DOCUMENTED
work orders for repairs of all these vehicles, say from the records of
a leasing company or taxi fleet. We've had mostly GM in our
government fleet for over 20 years and we just don't have much in the
way of problems with them yet to listen to the critics we'd be lucky
if half of them were running at any given point in time. The last new
GM I had (95 caprice) required perhaps $1000 in actual non-wear item
repairs (both in and out of warranty) in the 12 years and 140K miles
of service. The entirety of it's repairs was to fix two electric
windows and one sensor on the transmission. Yet some fool on the CU
survey could, and probably would, put down 3 major repairs while
swearing they'd never buy another domestic.
Not at all, I've seen their questionnaire.
Sorry but human nature is such that the typical Toyota owner, who
bought it because it was supposed to be so great, is not going to
acknowledge that he paid a higher price and has just as many problems
as he's had with every other car. So he's going to forget about half
the repairs and not even list them. And to cement the rightness of
his decision he'll say he'd buy one again. OTOH, the Chevy owner
shrugs nothing off. He feels like he did GM a favor buying the car in
the first place and by god if there is a defect he's going to make
them pay dearly by giving it lots of poor ratings - that'll teach em.
You don't understand that people rarely tell the truth for a wide
variety of reasons. And the CU survey depends 100% on the respondents
telling the truth about what is, to a large number of people, a very
emotionally charged large $$ purchase.
I damned sure wont acknowledge that because it isnt true.
I have had shit with EVERY freaking GM product I owned since the
Yes, I paid a premium price, and yes I got a car that is not a piece of
Have to agree on the GM. Only one I've owned newer than 1967 was more
trouble than any 2 others of any brand. Both old high-miler Toyotas
gave excellent service - and that was in the '80s when they rusted. My
GM was a '95 3.8 TransSport.
I don't buy new cars. My last 3 Fords have been OK - not stellar in
the quality department but much better than the Pontiac. My last
several Chryslers have been OK too.
If the Toyotas didn't hold their value so well I'd likely be driving
them now, but I buy what I can buy 5 years old for $5000 - $6000 with
100,000km (60,000 miles) on them and Toyotas don't fall into that
price range up here even with 300,000 kms.
That's the basic problem with Toyotas (and Hondas), they are usually a
bad deal to buy used because they retain so much of their value.
Another issue is that new Toyotas are heavily discounted so even a
half-conscious buyer can buy a new one for less than what an uninformed
buyer can buy a used one for.
I have one acquaintance that works at a Toyota dealership and I asked
him why there were so few used Toyotas on the lot and he explained it to
me. Most of the used Toyotas are sent to other Ford, GM, and Chrysler
dealerships that are owned by the same automotive group. Used Toyotas on
a Ford, GM, or Chrysler lot will fetch a higher price than used Toyotas
on a Toyota lot. Someone visiting a Toyota lot either knows that they
can get their new car for well-under invoice, or is dumb enough to pay
MSRP, but they're not going to pay top-dollar for a used Toyota like the
visitor to the Ford or GM lot. We actually did buy a used Toyota from
the Toyota dealership, one they had had on their lot for six months and
were desperate to get rid of so they let it go for what seemed to be a
good deal. Of course the problem with a used car is that the bumper to
bumper warranty is much shorter so that's the risk you take.
Don't think that the Toyotas or Hondas you see on a Ford, GM, or
Chrysler lot were traded in for a new Ford, GM, or Chrysler--in most
cases they weren't. The used Ford and GM vehicles are wholesaled out to
those used car lots that are usually scattered along auto rows. The Ford
and GM dealers make more (per vehicle) selling used Toyotas and Hondas
than they make selling new Ford and GM products.
You and your friend are full of it, all brands return more in their own
store, period. When we traded a domestic on an import in one of our import
stores we sold it at our domestic store and visa versa, dummy
We ALWAYS made a higher gross profit on new and used Toyotas in our Toyota
stores than our domestic stores because Toyota buyers were convinced they
were "better," not because they were better.
If you doubt that dealers earn more on imports, look at the difference in
ratio of wholesale to retail in the NADA Guide, for imports and domestics.
The dealer earns more on imports because they can trade imports for LESS and
sell more of the smoke and mirrors packages to import buyers. We even made
more profit in our import stores with our $20 HIGHER shop rates, as well.
Toyota touts retail value, but the Toyota buyer never see that value when
they trade on another Toyota. You will NEVER get wholesale for your Toyota
trade at a Toyota store.
I have been trying to help a friend find one for his wife for the last month
or so. Within a 200 mile search radius, there has been nothing on the
He wanted a minivan or SUV for her. There are of course Chrysler products
and some GM.
Go look at a PT cruiser. You can get them new cheap and they are
quite nice inside. Has all the utility of an SUV. You save enough
money on the purchase price to more then pay for an extended warranty
if you want one.
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