To answer circuitsmith’s question about getting the true story on any complaint and all models of vehicles the answer would be yes. The make and model of car is irrelevant as many car owners will deliberately skew a story to shift blame away from themselves and other times, due to sheer lack of mechanical knowledge, they may unintentionally fail to provide “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say.
If a Ford pickup owner complains about a rear axle failure on a 1 or 2 year old pickup with low miles does that mean the rear axle was faulty from the start? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe that pickup owner has curbed the rear wheels hard, been driving through deep rainwater, towing loads way in excess of the capability, or backing the truck into the lake and unloading a boat every 2 weeks over the course of the summer.
That’s my point; CR just flat does not know and they assume that a rear axle complaint means a factory defect.
There’s also the issue of environmental conditions and demographics. Some places are much harder on vehicles than others and certain types of drivers are much harder on cars than others. Take a 1000 Ford pickups and a 1000 Toyota Camrys and compare. It’s not hard to see which one will get the most abuse.
Some drivers also have a Jekyll and Hyde complex and I freely admit that I’m one. In my Lincoln I drive slow and easy but in the turbocharged, 5 speed manual transmission SAAB I pound it a lot harder than the Lincoln simply because I like to bang gears a bit and feel the turbocharged pull.
One last example of how people can be is the lady who bought a new Nissan Maxima from the dealer I worked for. Two weeks later she puts it in the ditch after sliding on ice and tore up the right front. This happened just half a mile from the dealer and she had it towed to us but we did not even have a body shop. She became absolutely livid when the service manager told her warranty would not pay for this damage and nothing the service manager could say or do would convince her this was an accident and insurance company issue. She left with the wrecker and tow truck, never to return again. Imagine what the CR survey would look like if she was subscriber.