Researching Autos Online? Read This.

research online

I admit it, I am frustrated.

It is true that the Internet has changed our lives; I do not think anybody would argue that. While there is a lot of good information online, there is a lot of misinformation too.

I hear from people daily who won’t look at a particular brand vehicle because they read on a blog or website that they were “bad cars”. The conversation usually starts with “I heard this or that about this or that car having this or that problem”.  I know this is code for someone who is online looking for problems while researching cars.

The problem is, we do not know who wrote the information or if it is even remotely correct. I promise you, I can get online and find bad things about every car ever made. You’ve got to remember, you might find 100 bad things about a particular model that has sold millions of vehicles, which is a very low percentage. Keep in mind too that generally, happy people don’t take the time to get online and post how wonderful their car is.

Why do we take the bad information we read online as the absolute truth? A recent caller to the radio show stated, “I hear the transmission on the 2010 Honda Civic gives a lot of trouble”. So I looked at the top auto complaint website, Five people complained about the 2010 Civic transmission, and of those, there was only one failure. 260,218 Civics were sold for 2010.

I have people say they read online about a certain vehicle that the engine went out at say, 60,000 miles. Do we know if the person posting this ever changed their oil or did any maintenance? The same is true with people getting online and complaining about their gas mileage. Maybe this person has a really heavy foot, or perhaps doesn’t know how to accurately figure their mileage.

I hear bad things about dealerships, too. Some of these dealerships I know very well and know they do a good job. Consider this scenario: a salesperson at the local Ford store is bored and decides to blog bad things about the Chevy store across the street. Perhaps the same bored salesperson decides to blog great things about the Ford dealership he works for, or even great things about himself-under a different name of course.

I know for a fact some dealerships write horrible things about their competition online and somebody out there is going to buy into it, and base an important decision on what they read. It is on the Internet, so it MUST be true, right?

I often see websites give wrong information on what dealer invoice is, wrong incentive information, and there is not a single website out there that gives accurate used car values. I have people constantly tell me that “Kelley Blue Book says my car is worth X amount of dollars, but the dealership is offering me less”. I have to remind them that KBB doesn’t write checks, rather they make their money selling ads on their website, and sending leads to car dealers. This is true of all of these type websites.

All this is not to say there isn’t good automotive information available online. I think is a terrific website for doing research, but like everything else, you really need to keep in mind that much of what you find is opinion, not fact. Studies suggest most consumers spend five hours researching cars before they go look, and I am all for consumers being educated. That is the basis of my radio show.

Friends, just don’t take what you read online as the gospel. Trust me, it isn’t.

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