Friday, October 21, 2011

Why you should always question Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is a great magazine for the average homeowner / consumer.  It provides topical details about everything ranging from laptop computers to snowblowers and even services provided by companies. 

That's all well and good, but when the breadth of the mission the magazine has taken on is so great, the depth of information is sometimes lacking.

I can't reproduce the information here because I'm not an online subscriber to Consumer Reports (CR), but there was an article in the most recent issue (early October) dealing with car waxes and paint care.  Obviously, I jumped right into that article - it's no secret I've been fortunate enough to have been given a free education on these matters from the kind folks at

Essentially, CR screwed the pooch with their review of car waxes.  It's not because Mothers didn't come in first in every category; I swear.  They included cleaner waxes lumped in to the same review as top coats; they included liquid and synthetic waxes with carnauba and paste waxes.  I thought to myself - who would do such a thing?  Read my letter below to find out why this is a bad idea.

I wrote the letter to the editor below about a week ago, but haven't heard back and don't expect to.  The car wax review is just another reason I dislike CR magazine for important consumer decision-making.  When you want to buy a TV, for example, go to an electronics review site and use Google to find it; when you want to upgrade your audio system, go to  The extra effort of typing a few keys in is worthwhile.

Also consider price point.  Consumer Reports does take into account price, so they might compare a Craftsman snow thrower to an Ariens and lead people to believe the Craftsman is just as good, because the price is lower but the quality isn't a good deal lower than an Ariens.  I love Craftsman and have a Craftsman mower that has served me well in my two years as a home owner.  But if you can afford an Ariens snow thrower with no problem, why would you not get the one with the better reputation and better build? 

CR should be renamed "Consumer Guidance", meaning, a guide for people who really have no clue what to buy when they want something new (a TV, a toaster, a blender), and who want a magazine to tell them what brand that new thing should be.

Here's the letter:

In regard to the recent Consumer Reports magazine issue dealing with car care, tires, and batteries, I found it curious that "Cleaner waxes" from several different companies, including Mothers & Meguiar's, were included in the test.
Cleaner wax is intended as a "step 1" for anyone waxing a vehicle - it's meant to strip the vehicle's paint of old wax as well as contaminants and grime, and thus is a preparation for a top coat, or even a step 2 before the top coat, such as Mothers Sealer & Glaze.  What CR magazine seemed to be trying to compare are "top coats", or what most people think of traditionally as "car wax".  Cleaner waxes should not have been included as standalone products to compare against top coats; in this way, I feel CR magazine misrepresented certain products in this comparison.  The only comparison where it would make sense to include cleaner waxes are product *lines* that are intended to be applied in steps, such as Mothers Step1-3 and the equivalent Meguiar's products.
Additionally, no mention of paint color was made as far as I remember.  Mothers and its resellers, particularly those that focus on the antique car market, will tell you that you need to choose the right product for the type of paint, age of the car, and color.  I saw that synthetic liquid waxes were lumped in with carnauba paste waxes - again, these comparisons lose their meaning when it appears some random polishes are chosen off of store shelves with no regard to intended use.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Lively debate is encouraged, but please don't be a typical internet egomaniac or your comments will be deleted.