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Automotive Dependability Takes an Unexpected Tumble

JD Power study shows first decline in over 15 years.

by on Feb.12, 2014

J.D. Power's 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study showed a drop in reliability and quality for 2011 vehicles.

It has become something of an industry gospel: automotive quality and reliability has long been on a steady, upward climb. But that conventional wisdom took a hit with the release of a new study showing an unexpected decline in vehicle dependability for the first time in more than 15 years.

The setback is largely the result of problems with engines and transmissions, according to J.D. Power’s 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, particularly with the smaller 4-cylinder engines that have grown increasingly popular with motorists hoping to improve their mileage.

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“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.” (more…)

Buick, Jaguar Topple Lexus in J.D. Power Dependability Study

Vast gains in reliability give consumers reason to hang onto cars longer. Are differences among brands no longer significant?

by on Mar.19, 2009

Lexus slips to third in the Power Dependability Study, but still scores a best-ever with its 2006 LS430.

Lexus slips to third in the Power Dependability Study, but still scores a best-ever with its 2006 LS430.

Perennial quality leader Lexus was nudged aside by two determined challengers in the latest study of automotive reliability.  Buick and Jaguar led the list of brands that maintain their quality, even after three years on the road, according to the 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study.

The annual study found that Buick and Jaguar are the two new benchmarks in auto reliability, based on more than 50,000 surveys of U.S. motorists driving vehicles from the 2006 model-year.  But Lexus still has reason to be proud.  Four of its models took top honors in individual product categories – including the LS430, ranked number one among “Large Premium Cars.”  In fact, the LS sedan experienced a mere 61 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) on the road, an all-time low, even accounting for changes made to the 2009 VDS survey.

The Dependability Study is one of a series of surveys the California-based Power conducts each year.  Perhaps the best known is the Initial Quality Study, or IQS, which asks owners to report on problems they experience during the first 90 days of ownership.  That’s become a real battleground among manufacturers, and has seen huge improvements, across the industry, in recent years.

Improving long-term reliability, experts stress, is a much more difficult challenge, and according to Power’s product research director, Neal Oddes, it is likely to have a significant impact, not only on the way an owner perceives a brand, but “it is (also) a good indicator of whether a consumer will repurchase a vehicle and recommend it to their friends.”