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Wonky Tech, Balky Transmissions: New Power Study Reveals Industry’s Biggest Quality Problems

Navigation and voice control generate the largest number of complaints, finds 2016 IQS.

by on Jun.22, 2016

Customers may be demanding the latest tech but it's also the biggest source of complaints.

You tap a button on the steering wheel, wait for the beep and read out the address you’re looking for in a suburb of Detroit. After a seemingly interminable wait, the car’s voice-controlled navigation system responds – directing you to a location in Delaware.

Wonky navigation systems, especially those using voice control, are the single biggest complaint motorists have about their 2016 cars, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, with problems involving high-tech systems, in general, accounting for a full 24% of the “problems” reported in the new study.

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But while traditional complaints such as faulty engines and loose exterior trim, have declined sharply in recent years, mechanical defects haven’t vanished entirely. If anything, consumers are growing frustrated by the latest generation of 8- and 9-speed transmissions, according to Renee Stephens, the chief automotive analyst with J.D. Power and Associates.

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Volvo Offering Lifetime Warranty on Repairs

Program covers both parts and labor on post-warranty service.

by on Jul.10, 2015

Once your new Volvo comes off warranty you'd only have to pay for a covered repair once, even if the part breaks again.

Tired of fixing your old car and then having to pay for the same repair a year or two later? Volvo has an answer for you.

The Swedish maker has introduced a new lifetime warranty on repair parts and labor it’s calling the “Pay Once and Never Pay Again” program. The program appears to be aimed at both building the brand’s image and helping drive more repair work into dealer service bays.

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“The lifetime parts and labor warranty is a commitment to both quality vehicles and quality customer relationships,” says Lex Kerssemakers, the recently appointed President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, “everyone should feel confident that Volvo is here to support our customers throughout the ownership of their vehicle.”

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VW, Ford Top New “Total Quality” Study

Balancing the good and the bad.

by on Jul.14, 2011

Despite some problems with vehicles like Jetta, VW nabbed the lead in the Total Quality Index.

What matters most: the little niggling problems, like an occasional rattle, or the things that surprise and delight a motorist, such as a heated steering wheel or a state-of-the-art navigation system?  How one answers that question could determine which of the many – and often conflicting — automotive quality studies matters most.

The latest, the so-called Total Quality Index, from California-based consultancy Strategic Vision, Inc., places Volkswagen at the top of the industry heap, followed by Ford Motor Co.  That’s in sharp contrast to the results of another recent survey, J.D. Power and Associates’ widely-quoted Initial Quality Study knocking Ford off its pedestal for racking up too many complaints for the complexity of its in-car infotainment technology.

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The gap between the new TQI and Powers’ IQS underscores the different methodologies at work.  “We decided to measure ‘quality’ from the ‘total’ perspective of the driver/owner, because this is how people actually judge ‘quality’ in terms of the decision to purchase or not,” explained Strategic Visions’ founder and Chairman Dr. Darrel Edwards.

By SVI logic, a problem with programming the new FordMyTouch system is more than offset by the fact that so many motorists are actually buying Ford products because they want the new technology.

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Imports Retain Lead – but Detroit’s Big Three Closing Quality Gap Fast

Lexus and parent Toyota again top new J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey.

by on Jun.22, 2009

Detroit's Big Three makers made huge strides in quality, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, but the single highest-quality product was the Lexus LX sport-utility vehicle.

Detroit's Big Three makers made huge strides in quality, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, but the single highest-quality product was the Lexus LX sport-utility vehicle.

Despite distracting financial problems, Detroit’s Big Three automakers showed a substantial improvement in off-the-assembly-line quality, according to the latest Initial Quality Survey by automotive gurus J.D. Power and Associates.

Chrysler, Ford and General Motors’ various brands scored a collective 10% improvement on the closely-watched 2009 IQS, though the industry, as a whole, experienced significant improvements.  That means that while the so-called quality gap is closing, imports once again retain the lead.

Among the 37 brands included in the yearly quality report, long-dominant Lexus again took the number one spot with an average of just 84 problems reported per 100 vehicles, (or 84 PP100).  Porsche, which had led the list for the last two years, slipped into the number two spot, while Cadillac jumped from 10th to 3rd.  Significantly, the Korean maker, Hyundai, surged to the 4th position, a major gain for a manufacturer long relegated to the bottom end of the quality charts.

The industry average, for 2009, came to 108 problems – down from 118, last year – which works out to just slightly more than one per vehicle, though Mini, the lowest-ranked maker, suffered from 165 PP100.

“It’s fair to say that new vehicle quality is better than it’s ever been,” said David Sargent, JDPA’s vice president of automotive research, “in terms of the absence of problems.”

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comNotably, four Detroit brands – Cadillac, Ford, Chevrolet and Mercury – ranked above the industry average.  And Power officials reported that on the whole, the Big Three “outpaced (the) industry-wide improvement” in quality.

“Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, the Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success,” noted Sargent.

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