Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is anyone else confused by the lack of car research online?

  1. Feb 18, 2014 #1
    My father's thinking of buying a new car and I'm trying to do research online to help him make the right choice. The issue is that I can't find any research whatsoever. All I get are subjective reviews (which seem to be just marketing ads) and anecdotes.

    I can't find objective information on which car brand or model is the best. Isn't this scary because it means that car manufacturers don't have any incentive to improve their cars? Instead, they only have incentive to work on advertising.

    He's thinking of buying a Mercedes B200. I'm trying to do research on Mercedes compared to Mazda, Honda, etc but I can't seem to find any remotely scientific information.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2014 #2

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm really not clear on what you are asking for/what your complaint is. The specs of the car are all quantitative in nature and easily accessed. But the intangibles are by definition qualitative and are strictly a matter of opinion. Worse, different people have different needs/wants/likes. So there can't be a single, objective, correct answer.

    However, none of this at all implies that car manufacturers have no incentive to improve or implies that there is no information or even just no good information to be gained from research.

    Your post makes absolutely no sense.
     
  4. Feb 18, 2014 #3
    Specifically, I am interested in reliability. Is reliability considered a spec of a car? If so, is there any place where I can find published reports on how often certain car models need repairs? Reliability is definitely objective.
     
  5. Feb 18, 2014 #4

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No, it is not a spec, at least not a published one.
    Yes, there are a number of major/reputable companies that rate cars based on reliability. How hard have you googled? I googled "car reliability rankings" (google filled it in before I was half finished typing it, so common is the search) and all of the hits on the first page looked useful/relevant.
     
  6. Feb 18, 2014 #5
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Feb 18, 2014 #6

    SteamKing

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The reliability of a particular car model can't necessarily and completely be gleaned by casual inspection. It's something that can only be determined over time. Now, some brands have an overall reputation for quality, but, like all human endeavors, there may creep into a car maker's model lineup some features which do not stand up to daily usage.

    If you are interested in a particular car model, see if there is a long-term test being conducted by one of the car magazines. That can give you some ideas about cost to own and if any major repairs were required to keep the vehicle operating.

    I have purchased two cars brand new in my life, and I spent 9-12 months researching the particular model I was interested in each time. Read the car magazines, look at car review videos, go to auto shows if you can, even rent a similar model for a few days.
     
  8. Feb 19, 2014 #7

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    They also have their data and reviews online at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/ but you have to subscribe in order to get the full benefit of that data. It costs money to buy vehicles for testing and maintain testing facilities (including their own test track). The money has to come from somewhere.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Feb 19, 2014 #8
    Thanks for the sources everyone.
     
  10. Feb 19, 2014 #9
    I decide on car brand based on the availability of service centers. In here, Toyota and Hyundai are the 2 main brands. Secondly, I need to decide whether it's diesel or petrol - essentially what I need it for. (Opting for diesel automatically means more power, hence more taxes). Too much to write out.
     
  11. Feb 19, 2014 #10

    lisab

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's smart. The car I drive is not common where I live, and finding people to work on it is a real pain in the neck. Plus, it's a German-made car, so all repairs and maintenance are much more expensive compared to more common models.

    Btw, I use cars.com for research.
     
  12. Feb 19, 2014 #11

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    So are you not aware at all, until now, about Consumer Reports?

    Zz.
     
  13. Feb 19, 2014 #12
    No, I was googling stuff like "mercedes b200 vs honda civic" or "mercedes b200 review" and I was getting too much junk.
     
  14. Feb 19, 2014 #13

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Be aware that while you can get a decent repair track record for a 2009 model, that may or may not tell you much about the 2014.
     
  15. Feb 19, 2014 #14

    collinsmark

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    There are no reliability studies for new car models. Reliability studies only apply to older cars.
     
  16. Feb 19, 2014 #15
    Opps, by new, I meant new to us. He's looking for a car in the 2009-2011 range.
     
  17. Feb 19, 2014 #16
    The rule of thumb is "that which moves, degrades" - no matter what super car it is, it will need maintenance regularly. By choosing a brand whose brand-workshop is closeby and not spoken ill of, is the easiest way to make sure the car runs smooth.

    In that regard it doesn't matter if it's released 2-3-4-5 years ago, unless the car's odometer shows some unrealistic numbers and its technical history shows no signs of changed engines or maintenance on suspension and once you turn the ignition it breathes fire out of the exhaust, that wouldn't be a good sign.

    I.e I drive an 04 Celica, maintenance performed roughly every year and a half , some minor things more often such as electronics and filters, tire pressures and stuff like that. Over the nearly 10 years it has had lots of parts swaps (not going to name them individually since the list would be long) - trick is, the workshop is close by, a reputable joint, loads of content customers, quality service. It would have been a bloody headache to deal with it on my own. It's also the reason I went for the 04 toyota instead of another 08 bmw whose price was Too good for the car.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Is anyone else confused by the lack of car research online?
Loading...