US: J.D. Power & Associates says car quality drops image

J.D. Power & Associates first began accounting for the dependability of three-year-old vehicles 25 years ago and for the first time since 1998, industrywide quality had a drop.

According to the study, in 2013 the industry wide average of problems was 126 per 100 vehicles, in 2012 it was 132 and for this year’s study the tally went to 133 problems per 100 vehicles from 2011 model year vehicles.

Meanwhile, all of GM’s brands scored average or better for the first time since the study began, while Toyota, Porsche and Lincoln all fared worse, even dropping out of the top five. For the third year in a row, Toyota’s Lexus remained the top brand in the J.D. Power & Associates study.

GM has “put in a massive amount of hard work” into improving its quality, said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive research at J.D. Power. “A lot of people still feel that GM vehicles are not especially reliable, a lot of that is based on maybe what they owned 15 years ago,” he said. “It’s the biggest issue that they face, this lagging perception.”

GM follows up in this study from last year’s J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, which the No. 1 automaker in the US led for the first time in almost 30 years.

“A lot of the problems we see increasing are not necessarily true issues of dependability, i.e., vehicles going wrong over their life, but they’re things which have been designed in a way that the customer didn’t like on Day 1 and three years later they still don’t like,” Sargent said. “When we look at what we would consider pure dependability issues, those are tending to improve – things like brakes.”

J.D. Power said the industry issue increase came largely from engine and transmission problems, with smaller gasoline and diesel motors more prone to such fails than larger five – six to eight cylinder engines.

Via Bloomberg