Vehicle Reliability Drops for First Time Since 1998

Vehicle Reliability Drops for First Time Since 1998
Image: NCCC
February 17, 2014

According to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which measures how Americans feel about their 3-year-old cars, trucks and SUVs, overall vehicle dependability has fallen for the first time since 1998.

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 survey of more than 41,000 vehicle owners found that the average 2011 model year vehicle has 133 problems per 100 vehicles, a 6 percent increase compared to the same survey one year ago. 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."

Consumer complaints involving engines and transmissions saw the largest increase. Particularly, people with vehicles that have 4-cylinder engines complained of problems such as engine hesitation, rough shifting and a lack of power.

In terms of the most reliable vehicle brand, Lexus takes the top spot for the 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.