"Common Knowledge" Dictates Car Purchases

Perception, rather than hard facts such as prior ownership or reviews, drive the decision making processes of 43% of consumers looking to buy a new car.

Rather than relying on hard facts, more than 40% of new car buyers avoid a particular model because of common knowledge, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Avoider Study.

The purpose of the study is to understand why consumers consider or avoid specific models when they are looking for a new car. What the study found was that prior ownership has little to do with someone avoiding a car, as only 14% of respondents said that’s how they base their decision.

Decisions and ratings are used to make a decision, according to 38%. However, perception, however true or not, is the most important reason for avoiding a brand or model. According to 43%, they avoid brands or models because the vehicles “are known” to have poor quality and/or reliability.

“The fact that so many new-vehicle buyers may be basing their opinions about quality and reliability on pre-conceived notions, rather than concrete information or data, demonstrates how important it is for automakers to promote the quality and reliability of their models,” said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement.

Over the last few years Americans have been changing their opinions on the origin of a car. More people avoid an imported car (14%) than ever. At the same time, less Americans (6%) are avoiding domestic cars.

The fact that domestic cars have improved quality, dependability and appeal over the last few years only partially accounts for the decrease in Americans avoiding these cars.

“The decline in avoidance of U.S. models due to their origin reflects a buy-American sentiment that surfaced as the economic recession led to domestic job losses and adversely affected major U.S. institutions such as the Detroit Big Three,” Osborn said.

Inlet for the electrical charger in the left side of the Chevrolet Volt with the manufacturer's provided charging cord.

There has also been a shift in reasons influencing a purchase. In 2010, reliability and the deal on the car were two of the main reasons people were choosing to purchase specific models. However, the most recent study reveals that gas mileage is now the most influential reason.

Alternative fuel cars like the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius garnered attention from consumers. The two reasons cited most often by respondents for purchasing these cars were gas mileage and environmental impact.

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