Car Complaints: Consumers Had These Major Problems in 2020 That Will Make You Never Want to Buy Another Car Ever Again

The Consumer Federation of America recently released the top complaints it received in 2020. Consumers mostly complained about shady business practices, and when they reviewed companies positively, they mentioned honesty as a key factor. Consumers value transparency in business practices, and the top complaints last year reflect that. As for automotive-related complaints, they top the list of gripes with six major categories. 

Car complaints top the list of consumer gripes again

Cars fill a parking lot. Consumers had six major complaints about cars in 2020.
Cars prompt many consumer complaints | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Consumer Federation of America’s 2020 Consumer Complaint Survey Report says auto-related complaints top the list. They include the following:

  • Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars
  • Deceptive financing practices
  • Defective vehicles
  • Faulty repairs
  • Car leasing and rentals 
  • Towing disputes

Complaints such as features not working, failure to be transparent in loan details and pricing, and repairs having to be done several times all fall under these categories. In some cases, a repair cost far more than quoted, or a promised rental car never materialized. 

Procuring a loan for a vehicle involves a finance process that can include add-ons, like ‘free’ service at the dealership or gap insurance that may or may not be needed. While signing multiple copies of paperwork, finance departments have sometimes slipped in the extras without permission, or agreed upon payments may have changed. 

These consumers’ car complaints sound like nightmares

Among consumers’ car complaints: A Consumer Federation of America-affiliated agency helped a man in Arkansas return a GMC Acadia after that vehicle’s driver-assist features kept failing. The dealer had refused to take the vehicle back until the agency stepped in.

Another consumer said she was manipulated into signing for a car she didn’t want, but the dealership wouldn’t take it back until the CFA-affiliated agency advocated for her.

In Florida, a woman took two vehicles to a shop for repairs but was never provided receipts for the work. When another shop verified the requested work hadn’t been done, the CFA agency helped the woman get her money back and discovered the shop wasn’t licensed. 

Similarly, in Maryland, consumers complained about unlicensed shops and repair work being done in parking lots. Faulty work came out of these places, and another CFA agency helped to get the place shut down. 

Another agency affiliated with the CFA helped a man get his car repaired after a free oil change led to catastrophic damage. The shop caused nearly $10,000 in damage, and the agency contacted the company for the car’s owner. The repairs cost more than the car was worth, so the company paid the value of the car. 

Those are just a few of the complaints outlined in the report. The CFA releases this report yearly and encourages people to know their rights and know whom to contact when they need help.

The Consumer Federation of America’s yearly reports

The Consumer Federation of America is a conglomeration of nonprofit consumer organizations. It was established in 1968. Nearly 300 groups participate in the federation. They aim to advocate, educate, and serve consumers, the CFA says. 

The CFA surveys consumers and compiles their complaints. It uses this information in a few ways. As an advocacy group, it pushes for pro-consumer laws in Congress and works with other officials to pass beneficial policies that protect consumers. 

It also compiles the information for press releases and gives the information to the media. One of the CFA’s top goals is to educate people about good and bad business practices so that consumers can avoid them as they see fit. 

As a service organization, the CFA founded America Saves in 2000. This nonprofit organization helps lower and middle-class Americans establish good savings habits, which in turn can pull them out of poverty. 

In addition, the CFA releases a yearly compilation of consumer complaints. 

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