Tips, Tricks & Trends

Buying a New Car After a Redesign Can Be Costly Mistake

When you seek out advice about buying a new car, there’s one nugget of car-buying wisdom that always seems to surface. How many times have you heard, avoid buying a new vehicle in its first year of a redesign? In the car buying efforts of year’s past, there has been this long-standing belief that automakers don’t always work out the kinks with their first attempts at reworking a popular vehicle.

But is there still any truth to that today, given the increased technology and improved production processes? According to one Consumer Reports finding, it may just be one piece of advice worth heeding, even today.

The old wives tale

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Historically, when an automaker embarks on the production of a new model, there is an increased chance of problems. New designs usually involve exterior style, which isn’t terribly problematic. But when it comes to implementing fresh updates to engines, transmissions, and other mechanical features of a car, there can be new issues right along with those upgrades.

This trend has groomed car buyers over the years to refrain from buying that first-round introduction. Waiting until the second or third year after a redesign gives the manufacturer time to work out the bugs, fix the problems, and address recalls.

What Consumer Reports’ data says

Consumer Reports is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to buy a new car. The data they collect is generally based on the experiences of actual vehicle owners, in addition to the evaluations from their in-house experts.

Vehicles are routinely assessed for reliability, based on three to five years of past ownership. Based on the surveys CR collects today, the most reliable cars are those in their final year production.

The most problematic years are always the first year of a refreshed upgrade. Jake Fisher, the senior director for CR, says having a little patience “can save you from years of frustration.”

It can be incredibly daunting and frustrating to find a used car that has the precise technology and extras you need. But waiting out the introductory year can have a host of benefits.

Benefits of waiting to buy the redesign models

It may be tempting to be the first in your neighborhood with the latest model vehicle. But before buying a new car, especially one that’s undergone significant upgrades, it may be best to wait another year.

Waiting a year or two post redesign can allow a manufacturer to identify areas of improvement, issue and address all recalls, and make necessary revisions based on first-year ownership complaints. It can save you unnecessary time at the dealership handling a recall. Or better yet, save you money in potential repairs and maintenance bills. 

There isn’t a brand unaffected by the new-design blues

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There are some brands, notorious for being reliable and safe, that still struggle when coming out the gate with a new design.

The latest Consumer Reports data discusses the Honda Odyssey, one of the most reliable minivans on the market. But, after a redesign effort in 2018, Odyssey-loving consumers had problems with their family rides. Some of those problems are still rearing their ugly heads with 2019 models.

Consider the Tesla Model 3 as another example. With the genius engineers being the design efforts for these cars, this game-changing new car had problems its first year, with window glass, paint defects, and loose trim.

Production line improvements and tech-based engineering have really helped automakers refine their process. But it doesn’t mean that a fresh, hot off the line, new car won’t also have new problems. Sure, they may be warranty-covered or recall-related. It just may be best to avoid any unnecessary trips to the dealership and wait a year before buying a new car altogether.