Car reviews: why you should take them with a pinch of salt

Do you ever wonder about the credibility of some of the reviews you’re reading? If you don’t then it’s probably time you did.

Now, ultimately a review is the opinion of one man or woman. It’s subjective, it’s open to influence and its conclusion may well be at odds with what you think. That much is obvious, yet it’s the things you may not have considered that can really impact credibility. Here are a few reasons to always remain skeptical.

This car is being supplied for free

When someone gives you something for nothing then you tend to be grateful, right?

For the bigger publications who review cars day in and day out this is not usually a problem. When they find a bad car and report it as such then damage will of course be done, but it’s damage that could quickly be patched by a positive review of another model or a car’s successor. Ultimately the manufacturer needs these viewers on its side.

However, when a small website or blogger comes in and delivers a harsh verdict on a review car then the chances are they’ll likely not get another car. After all, this readership is a lot less valuable. This often amounts to a kiss-arse relationship between manufacturers and writers and that is not healthy.

This reviewer might not know their shit

For every great car journalist out there I reckon there are probably ten shocking ones. If people are passionate enough about the subject then they’ll already have the knowledge ­– and likely the experience – to talk with authority on cars.

In this age of YouTube vloggers, WordPress bloggers and general knobbers there are plenty of blaggers.

Greater influences may be involved

 All publications, be it web or print based, will rely on advertising revenue. In a perfect world this would not be an issue. Yet it really doesn’t take a genius to realise that reviewing products from a company that advertises with a publication could bring an unhealthy conflict of interest.

Thankfully I believe that editorial integrity is still held firmly at the top of many of the best magazines and websites in the industry.

(main image: Jessica Afalla/Flickr)