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A Return to Normal: All-New Models More Problematic than Carryover Models

A Return to Normal: All-New Models More Problematic than Carryover Models

By Jeff Youngs,
Last year, the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) identified a big change to an auto industry norm. In that study, carryover models--those that were freshened or carried over from the 2009 model year to the 2010 model year with few or no changes--experienced more problems (129 problems per 100 vehicles, or PP100) than did models that were redesigned or all-new for the 2010 model year (116 PP100). Historically, this had not been the case, especially with models that were new to the market.

This year, based on the results of the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS), the industry returns to normal. Carryover models (127 PP100O) improve in terms of dependability, compared with last year, continuing a long-standing trend, while reported problems for all-new and redesigned models rise significantly to an average of 161 PP100 for 2011 model-year nameplates from an average of 116 PP100 for 2010 model-year nameplates.

According to the 2014 VDS, the largest decline in satisfaction with new and redesigned models is in the Engine/Transmission category. Referencing continual automaker attempts to increase fuel economy, David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, said, "While striving to reduce fuel consumption, automakers must be careful not to compromise quality. Increases in such problems as engine hesitation, rough transmission shifts, and lack of power indicate that this is a continuing challenge."

In addition to increased complaints about powertrains, the 2014 VDS finds decreased satisfaction with other aspects of all-new and redesigned models, including the following, which are listed in order starting with the largest decline in satisfaction:

1. Vehicle Exterior
2. Audio/Entertainment/Navigation
3. Features/Controls/Displays (tie)
3. Vehicle Interior (tie)
5. The Driving Experience
6. Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning
7. Seats

Viewed from the perspective of an increase in the number of owner-reported problems about specific vehicle attributes in all-new and redesigned models, the 2014 VDS finds that the greatest increases are in the following areas, listed in order starting with the attribute responsible for the greatest decline in satisfaction:

1. Fuel door is hard to open and close
2. Engine won't start at all
3. Battery failed
4. Excessive wind noise
5. Hands-free communication does not recognize command (tie)
5. Remote keyless entry system (tie)

In the 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, which surveys original owners of 2011 model-year vehicles, there is a notable increase in problems associated with keyless passive entry systems with push-button ignition systems. Vehicle owners report more problems with engine starting and with remote keyless entry systems than in years past.

Additional Research:

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