DEKRA Used Car Report: how we assessed

Accurate vehicle-specific evaluation
For the DEKRA Used Car Report we create an accurate type and vehicle-specific faults profile for a vehicle model from the results collected over two years from vehicle testing in Germany. This means that each generation of a model is evaluated separately. So that you receive reliable information, we only give numerical values if, in the relevant mileage range, at least 1,000 vehicles of a particular model have been inspected.

Assessment benchmark: the vehicle class

We assessed vehicles in nine vehicle classes plus three special analyses:

Vehicle classes

  • mini /small cars
  • compact class
  • medium class
  • upper medium class/upper class
  • sports cars
  • SUVs
  • MPVs
  • small vans
  • Vans

Special analyses

  • New comers
  • Discontinued popular models
  • Classic cars

All of the vehicles assessed are assigned to a vehicle class, representing the vehicle classes of various types of vehicles on the used car market from small cars to vans. When assessing each vehicle model the average values in its class serve as benchmark values. Advantage: The results in a vehicle class, such as small cars, for example, are not influenced by the percentage of faults in other, non-comparable vehicle classes, such as SUVs or sports cars.

In addition to the usual used car sector, the DEKRA Used Car Report provides even more information with their special analyses for three specific areas:


The “Newcomers” special analyses comprises vehicle models that have been on the market for only a short time (max. 3 years) and of which, for each model, at least 1,000 vehicles were tested in the mileage range of 0-50,000 km. As in the case of the discontinued popular models and classic cars, no distinctions are made here according to vehicle type. 

For these vehicles, DEKRA assumes that special influences on the part of the owner (e.g. the vehicles are preferably presented for testing in workshops) and from measures of the workshops and the manufacturers (guarantee, fair dealing, sale as used car, actions of the manufacturers in order to achieve as positive main inspection results as possible....) are present. Therefore, the results in this special analysis is seen as not really comparable to the other vehicle classes presented in the report. For this reason, no further assessment take place in the report; only the final test results of the special used car assessment are presented. 

Discontinued popular models 

The "Discontinued popular models" special analysis includes a selection of vehicle models which have no longer been manufactured for quite some time but can still be found on our roads in large numbers. These vehicles often have an eventful life behind them and are therefore no longer in competition with new or used cars in mint condition. In this analysis there is no differentiation between vehicle types, for example small car or van. 

Classic cars 

In the “Classic cars” special analysis, vehicle models that are at least 30 years old are assessed. The vehicles in this class have their “wild years” behind them and are looked after more intensively again. In this class, no distinction is made between vehicle types, such as between small cars and vans.

Mileage instead of vehicle age
The identified faults of a vehicle are assessed according to three different mileage ranges and not according to the dates of the main inspection, as the technical condition of a vehicle is influenced much more by the number of kilometres travelled than by its age. The assessment according to mileage is therefore much closer to the needs of an interested party who would like information about vehicle-specific features. 

We carried out the assessment in the following mileage ranges:

  • 0–50,000 km
  • 50,000–100,000 km
  • 100,000–150,000 km
  • NEW 2018: 150,000–200,000 km

We carried out the evaluation differently in the following mileage ranges for the "Discontinued popular models" and “Classic cars” special analyses:

  • 50,000–100,000 km
  • 100,000–150,000 km
  • 150,000–200,000 km
  • NEW 2018: 200,000–250,000 km

The "Newcomers" special analysis is only assessed in the following mileage range:

  • 0–50,000 km

Special evaluation of used cars
Regardless of the total number of faults identified during the main inspection, the special analysis on which the report is based mainly takes account of faults (relevant faults) relating to vehicle quality. Vehicle faults, which tend to be attributable to the owner, such as modifications to the vehicle or worn tyres, for example, are not taken into account. 

We carried out the assessment on the following assemblies:

  • chassis/steering
  • engine/environment
  • body work/frame/interior
  • brake system
  • electrics/electronics/lighting

To obtain a quick summary of how certain vehicle models performed in the assemblies we have introduced an arrow system for the 2014 report. Starting from the average rating for the respective vehicle class the range is defined for the best and worst ratings. This positive or negative range is broken down into three equally sized areas.

↑   Symbol for vehicle models that are among the top third with the best ratings
↗  Symbol for vehicle models that are in the top third
→ Symbol for vehicle models that are in the average third
↘  Symbol for vehicle models that are in the bottom third
↓   Symbol for vehicle models that are in the bottom third with the worst ratings

Quality at a glance: DEKRA Fault Index (DFI)
If not only slight faults but also serious faults are detected in a vehicle during a main inspection, this often entails a huge investment in time and money, as a new sticker is not issued for the vehicle, and this often entails costly and time-consuming repairs before the vehicle can be presented again. The DEKRA Fault Index gives potential buyers the opportunity to obtain a simple and quick summary of how the vehicle they are interested in rates overall or to compare several vehicles they are interested in with each other.

The DFI is calculated as follows:

DFI = “without relevant faults” value – “serious faults” value

We want to assess vehicles even more relevantly for potential buyers using this simple to understand rating.

The DFI of the relevant vehicle is expressed in the form of a symbol and shows the results of the vehicle in comparison to the other vehicles in the same class.

The classification on the basis of the DFI values in the respective vehicle class and mileage range is expressed in the form of 5 assessment symbols:

++  the best 10% of vehicles on the basis of the DFI of the vehicles in a class
+    the next best 20% of vehicles
o    the average 40% of vehicles
-     the less good 20% of vehicles
--    the worst 10% of vehicles

Finding the winner in the DEKRA Used Car Report

Based on the results in the nine vehicle classes the following titles are awarded in the Used Car Report:

  • Winner of its class
  • Best of all classes

Finding the winner of the “Winner of its class”
The winner of each vehicle class can only be a vehicle that is represented in the three mileage ranges from 0 to 150,000 km by at least 1.000 vehicles each. Winner of each vehicle class is the vehicle that has the best DFI mean value from the three mileage ranges.

Finding the winner of the “Best of all classes”
The winner of all vehicle classes with the best DMI mean value also is awarded the title “Best of all classes”.