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Reliability Woes Worsen, Warns New J.D. Power Study

Tech issues now make up 20% of reported problems.

by on Feb.24, 2016

Lexus topped the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2013 GS also a segment winner.

Two things seem to be true about the newest cars coming to market these days: they’re likely to have lots more high-tech features than the vehicles they replace. But they’re also likely to have more reliability issues, largely as a result of problems with those new tech features, according to J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study.

The VDS queried owners of 2013 model-year vehicles and found that, on average, dependability dropped 3% year-over-year. It found that one in five of the problems owners reported involved audio, communication, entertainment and navigation technology. Collectively known by the acronym ACEN, these systems are, collectively, the single largest source of trouble owners reported.

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“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive research at J.D. Power. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.”


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…)

Toyota Leads as Vehicle Dependability, Overall, Rises Sharply

But perceptions still lag reality for many brands.

by on Feb.15, 2012

2010 Lexus LS 600h L

The 2009 Lexus LS was ranked tops by the latest JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study.

Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand dominate the latest Vehicle Dependability Study, according to J.D. Power and Associates, though the annual VDS study shows that today’s cars, on the whole, are proving more reliable than ever.

But the Power report also reveals that perceptions continue to lag reality for some brands that have made major gains in recent years.

Of the 32 brands covered by the 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study, 25 showed improvements year-over-year, with five declining and one holding steady.  What’s particularly significant is that the latest survey focuses on vehicles built during the depths of the automotive industry’s worst downturn in decades, said Power Vice President David Sargent.

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“Despite facing immense challenges in 2009, automakers placed a keen focus on delivering outstanding levels of quality, which they understood would be essential to their long-term success,” noted Sargent, adding that, “Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability.”


Lincoln Tops Lexus in Long-term Vehicle Dependability Survey

Japanese still strong, but Detroit, European makers continue making reliability gains.

by on Mar.17, 2011

Lincoln lands the lead in the 2011 J.D. Power VDS with products like the MKZ.

Lincoln, the Ford Motor Co. luxury brand, has snatched the reliability crown away from long-time automotive reliability leader Lexus, underscoring Detroit’s significant improvements in the closely-watched J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Survey.


While Japanese brands like Lexus, and its parent, Toyota, remain solidly dependable, according to the annual Power survey of owners of three-year-old cars, trucks and crossovers, European and American – as well as Korean — brands are making significant gains.

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The good news is that vehicle dependability is improving across the board, according to Power.  The average product included in the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Survey, or VDS, had an average of 151 problems per 100 vehicles, down from a score of 170 “PP100” just two years ago.


“Automakers, as a whole, have made significant improvements in reducing traditional problems, particularly with vehicle interiors; engines and transmissions; and steering and braking during the past several years,” said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates.


Power Finds Dependability Lags Perceptions

Two-thirds of all makers post improvements in reliability.

by on Mar.18, 2010

Brands don't get the credit earned, including Lincoln, which placed 2nd in Dependability.

Perceptions often lag reality, especially in the auto industry, where some brands have far more quality problems than their image might reflect – and other have markedly better reliability than their reputation would suggest.

So, the results of the latest annual Vehicle Dependability Study, from J.D. Power and Associates, may take many folks by surprise.

The 2010 VDS, which looks at problems owners have experienced with three-year-old vehicles, finds Japanese makers capturing nine segment awards, while Detroit makers win seven and Europeans three.  But, more notably, the study reveals that a number of Detroit and Korean brands are performing far better than conventional wisdom might suggest.

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“Producing vehicles with world-class quality is just part of the battle for automakers,  said David Sargent, JDPA’s vice president of global vehicle research.  But, he adds, convincing consumers to believe in their quality is equally as important.”


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.”