Will your next car — new or used — become a money pit? Does your ride have the reputation of being a widow maker? Why do unsafe and costly-to-repair vehicles nevertheless find buyers? Easy! There are five facts car buyers routinely ignore.
1. Luxury does not guarantee Safety
Case in point is the release of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s frontal test paper. The luxurious 2012 Lexus ES 350 only received a poor grade. The same holds true for the Mercedes C class, a top safety pick. The BMW 3 series, another top safety pick, only got marginal ratings.
2. Smaller Vehicles are not as safe as larger Counterparts
Small cars are the hipster’s nod to global warming, but the Institute warns that they are also driver death traps, when compared to larger autos. Statistics show that minis and small cars have highest driver death rates, while drivers of large, midsized and very large automobiles fare better. Size also matters for pickups and SUVs. That said, pickup trucks can still present problems. Comparing the sum of single-car and multiple-car crashes in which these vehicles were involved, trucks “had the highest number of deaths” in both categories, while SUVs showed the lowest number.
3. Good Safety Ratings do not translate into Insurance Accolades
Another set of data provided by the Institute is the composite of insurance losses for four-door models manufactured between 2008 and 2010. The Dodge Avenger has the distinction of being the only vehicle that received a “substantially worse than average” rating for all coverages, which included property damage liability, personal injury protection, medical payments and bodily injury liability. It is interesting to note that Edmunds commented on the 2010 Dodge Avenger’s good frontal-offset tests, which earned it a top rating for head-on collision ratings.
4. Financial Analysis trumps Design Flaw Fixes
Remember the Ford Pinto? Uncharitable tongues referred to it as the barbecue with seats. The problem was a gas tank vulnerability that could lead to explosions upon rear impacts. Time cites the now infamous Ford Pinto memo, which shows the company’s calculations with respect to “reinforcing the rear end ($121 million) versus the potential payout to victims ($50 million).”
5. Price does not promise long-term Value
Depreciation is a serious problem for the car buyer who has an eye on the vehicle’s future trade-in value. ALG shows that while a Nissan Sentra is one of the lowest depreciating vehicles, the same cannot be said for the Nissan Titan. Forbes urges car buyers to anticipate 20 percent depreciation as soon as the dealership’s lot appears in the rearview mirror; over the course of five years, the vehicle depreciates another 65 percent. The problem arises when the car’s depreciation skyrockets to 84 percent, as is the case with the Mercedes Benz S Class S65.