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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Problems With New Cars Increase For The Time Since 1998

      J.D. Power Says Vehicle Dependability Is Going Down For The First Time Since 1998


    For the first time in sixteen years, J.D. Power and Associates says data from its recent vehicle dependability study shows that the average number of problems per 100 cars has increased. This year's study charted 2011 models over three years of ownership and tracked the number of problems.

    Looking at first-owner cars from the 2011 model year, J.D. Power reports an average of 133 problems per 100 cars (or shorten to PP100). This is an increase of six percent when compared to 2010's 126 PP100 average. The reason for this climb in problems comes down to problems with engines and transmissions. J.D. Power found that engines and transmissions problem accounted for a 6 PP100 boost.

    "Automakers are continually looking for ways to improve fuel economy, which is a primary purchase motivator for many consumers, particularly those buying smaller vehicles. However, while striving to reduce fuel consumption, automakers must be careful not to compromise quality. Increases in such problems as engine hesitation, rough transmission shifts and lack of power indicate that this is a continuing challenge," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power.

    Among individual brands, Lexus ran away with the most dependable brand title for the third year in a row. With just 68 problems per 100 vehicles, the brand was far ahead of Mercedes-Benz (104 PP100), Cadillac (107 PP100), Acura (109 PP100), and Buick (112 PP100).

    Source: J.D. Power

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

    Press Release is on Page 2


    2014 Vehicle Dependability Study

    2/12/2014

    • J.D. Power Reports: Increased Engine and Transmission Problems Contribute to Decline in Vehicle Dependability for The First Time in More Than 15 Years
    • General Motors Company Receives Eight Segment Awards, While Toyota Motor Corporation Garners Seven and Honda Motor Company Earns Six

    WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: Owners of 3-year-old vehicles (2011 model year) report more problems than did owners of 3-year-old vehicles last year, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released today.

    The study, now in its 25th year, examines problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of 2011 model-year vehicles. Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

    The study finds that overall vehicle dependability averages 133 PP100, a 6 percent increase in problems from 126 PP100 in 2013. This marks the first time since the 1998 study that the average number of problems has increased.

    "Until this year, we have seen a continual improvement in vehicle dependability," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "However, some of the changes that automakers implemented for the 2011 model year have led to a noticeable increase in problems reported."

    Increases in Engine and Transmission Problems Reported

    Engine and transmission problems increase by nearly 6 PP100 year over year, accounting for the majority of the overall 7 PP100 increase in reported problems. The decline in quality is particularly acute for vehicles with 4-cylinder engines, where problem levels increase by nearly 10 PP100. These smaller engines, as well as large diesel engines, tend to be more problematic than 5- and 6-cylinder engines, for which owners report fewer problems, on average.

    "Automakers are continually looking for ways to improve fuel economy, which is a primary purchase motivator for many consumers, particularly those buying smaller vehicles," said Sargent. "However, while striving to reduce fuel consumption, automakers must be careful not to compromise quality. Increases in such problems as engine hesitation, rough transmission shifts and lack of power indicate that this is a continuing challenge."

    Dependability Leads to Loyalty; Poor Dependability Creates Avoidance

    J.D. Power also finds that the fewer problems owners experience with their vehicle, the greater their loyalty to the brand. Combined data from previous years' VDS results and vehicle trade-in data from the Power Information Network® (PIN) from J.D. Power show that 56 percent of owners who reported no problems stayed with the same brand when they purchased their next new vehicle. Brand loyalty slipped to just 42 percent among owners who reported three or more problems.

    Also, a comparison of data from the 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study with data from the subsequent J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Avoider StudySM shows that consumers are much more likely to avoid vehicles from brands that rank lower in dependability. On average, 23 percent of consumers avoided brands that ranked in the lowest quartile of the 2013 VDS because of concerns about reliability. In contrast, only 9 percent of consumers cited that same reason for avoiding brands that ranked in the top quartile.

    "By combining our customer research with trade-in data, we see a very strong correlation between dependability and real-world brand loyalty," said Sargent. "Also, we see that brands with lower dependability are likely to be shut out of a significant piece of the market, as many consumers will not even consider purchasing one of their vehicles because of concerns about its likely reliability."

    Highest-Ranked Nameplates and Models

    Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates for a third consecutive year. The gap between Lexus and all other brands is substantial, with Lexus averaging 68 PP100 compared with second-ranked Mercedes-Benz at 104 PP100. Following Mercedes-Benz in the rankings are Cadillac (107), Acura (109) and Buick (112), respectively.

    General Motors Company receives eight segment awards?more than any other automaker in 2014?for the Buick Lucerne; Cadillac DTS (tie); Cadillac Escalade; Chevrolet Camaro; Chevrolet Volt; GMC Sierra HD; GMC Sierra LD; and GMC Yukon. Toyota Motor Corporation garners seven awards for the Lexus ES; Lexus GS; Lexus LS (tie); Lexus RX; Scion xB; Toyota Camry; and Toyota Sienna. Honda Motor Company receives six model-level awards for the Acura RDX; Honda CR-V; Honda Crosstour; Honda Element; Honda Fit; and Honda Ridgeline. MINI receives one model-level award for the MINI Cooper.

    The Vehicle Dependability Study is used extensively by manufacturers and suppliers worldwide to help them design and build better vehicles, which typically translates into higher resale values and customer loyalty. It also helps consumers make more-informed choices for both new- and used-vehicle purchases.

    The 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 41,000 original owners of 2011 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded between October and December 2013.


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    I have to challenge the validity of this JD powers report in regards to Lexus. I have multiple family members in California who have Lexus auto's and they are constantly in the shop. My Aunt traded in her old Lexus, 3yrs old which had all kinds of problems and got a new RX SUV last Oct and she is so frustrated that she has started to look around for some other luxury small SUV.

    Sadly due to her son inlaw who is so hung up on Asian auto makers are the only quality products in town she will not even look at an American auto.

    Sadly I think most will agree, this was bound to happen across the board as we add a ton of electronics to every aspect of the auto. The bugs will go up. I would be willing to bet 25% of the bugs are due to software issues.

    Lousy transmission shifting is probably buggy software

    Lousy fuel usage, buggy software

    freezing nav, buggy software.

    I am willing to bet that most come down to poor QA of the software that runs the mechanical components of the auto.

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    It's not just bugs, also additional deliberate actions which increase wear and tear like auto-stop-start. A starter which normally has to do it's thing once per trip now has to do it 20~30 times. If a starter lasts 15 years it'll now last 1/2 a year if it wasn't dramatically improved. I am sure it is beefed up considerably, but is it 20~30 times more durable? That's very doubtful. Another example is auxiliary air injection. Many cars now have a pump that force feeds fresh air into the exhaust during and for a few minutes after a cold start to help the exhaust run hot and fire up the cats sooner. This is a motor, a relay, a solenoid and one or two vacuum operated diaphragms which weren't there on cars without the system. On M-Bs a very common failure is that the relay gets stuck after a few years (usually 5~10) and the motor keeps running until it burns out or wears out. Another very common thing these days is the move to very low viscosity (hence) drag oil like the 5W20 and 0W20 formulations. Ultimately they have lower sear film strength and increase wear, but they may get you an additional 1/2 MPG!

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    I don't get how Lexus is so good. I can see if they are #1 but not when they have only 2/3 the problems as the #2 brand. I can see why problems have gone up though, the electronics have really increased, even mid size family sedans now have heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheels, sat-nav systems, etc, then through in all the turbos and DI in the engines and technology on that side. Cars are better equipped than ever and more powerful and more fuel efficient too.

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    Start/stop doesn't use a traditional starter after the engine has warmed up does it? the GM start/stop doesn't, I know that much.


    Another example is auxiliary air injection. Many cars now have a pump that force feeds fresh air into the exhaust during and for a few minutes after a cold start to help the exhaust run hot and fire up the cats sooner.

    uh.. my '81 Toronado has that... it's not like its a new thing.

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