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Reliability is a top factor for shoppers deciding what vehicle to purchase

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on May 17, 2021

From budget to reliability to look and feel and more, a lot of decisions go into buying a car for today’s consumers. To get a pulse on what matters most to them, we surveyed a combination of new and used shoppers—over 500 in total—and analyzed the data in the recent CarGurus Reliability Survey.

What we found is that, along with budget, reliability is a top priority for shoppers when choosing a car. In fact, 36% of total shoppers cited reliability as a top-three factor driving vehicle selection, nearly tied with budget (37%) for most common responses, followed by driving feel (24%) and brand (24%). It even ranked higher as a concern than safety ratings (20%), although 80% of respondents agreed with the statement “safety and reliability go hand-in-hand.”

Judging a vehicle’s reliability isn’t always easy for consumers, and used car shoppers find this task especially challenging. Only 51% of used car shoppers believe judging a vehicle’s reliability is easy, compared to 70% of new car shoppers. One thing that consumers do consider when judging reliability is brand. Many, especially those buying used, believe it can be a strong indicator of how reliable a vehicle is. According to our survey, Toyota wins the perception as most reliable (29%), followed by Honda (23%), Ford (19%), Chevrolet (18%), and Subaru (16%). In addition to brand, many buyers also look to third-party sites, detailed maintenance and history reports, and ratings/reviews for validation.

What does this mean for dealers?

Ultimately, it comes down to providing shoppers with the transparency they need to feel confident about making a purchase. Whether you sell new cars or used, answer shoppers’ questions directly and give them the information they’re looking for. Use the top five resources ranked by consumers below as a guide when catering to potential buyers:

New Shoppers Used Shoppers
Maintenance and history report (76%) Maintenance and history report (80%)
Detailed inspection from dealer (71%) Detailed inspection from dealer (63%)
Expert reviews (70%) Call out damage (63%)
Consumer ratings/reviews (65%) Consumer ratings/reviews (62%)
Make, model, and trim info (61%) Expert reviews (60%)

Providing this transparency will help shoppers make the reliability call and ultimately choose your dealership for the purchase.

Topics: car shoppers, CarGurus data, shopper behavior