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2013 Initial Quality Study: Few New-Vehicle Problems Can be Fixed

2013 Initial Quality Study: Few New-Vehicle Problems Can be Fixed

By Jeff Youngs, June 19, 2013
According to the J.D. Power 2013 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), nearly two-thirds of the problems experienced during the first 90 days of new-vehicle ownership are related to vehicle design rather than vehicle components that malfunction. That makes the majority of problems reported by new-vehicle owners far more difficult for dealerships to resolve.

Having served as the benchmark for new-vehicle quality for 27 years, the annual Initial Quality Study has been redesigned for 2013. Now conducted as an online survey, allowing for more detailed feedback from new-vehicle owners who have owned their new vehicle for at least 90 days, the new IQS better measures quality in relation to new features and technology installed in today's vehicles. The 2013 study finds that the majority of new-vehicle owners indicate that their vehicle functions properly and works as designed, but that some features and components are problematic because they are difficult to understand and operate.

"Automakers are investing billions of dollars into designing and building vehicles and adding technologies that consumers desire and demand, but the risk is that the vehicle design, or the technology within the vehicle, in some cases may not meet customer needs," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "The successful companies will be those automakers that find a way to give customers the technology they want while at the same time making it sufficiently intuitive so all customers find it easy to use."

According to the 2013 Initial Quality Study, only 9% of design-related problems are taken to a dealership during the first 90 days of ownership. Among these problems, only 13% are able to be fixed. The study finds that many of these problems are related to Bluetooth pairing for mobile phones, voice-recognition or hands-free technology, and navigation systems.

Sargent said that dealerships may be able to mitigate such problems by explaining how vehicle technology works when customers buy a new vehicle, and automakers may be able to resolve some of the problems with software changes. However, vehicle features remaining hard for owners to operate, difficult to understand, or inconveniently located are likely to be considered a problem for the life of the vehicle.

"The majority of owners don't experience problems, but those who do are frustrated," said Sargent. "That's understandable, especially when owners often keep their new vehicle for five years or more. In contrast, when consumers have a problem with their smartphone, they are likely to replace the phone much sooner."

According to the 2013 Initial Quality Study, the Lexus LS demonstrates the highest average quality among all models included in the study, while the Porsche brand demonstrates the highest quality levels reported across an entire vehicle lineup.

Within each vehicle segment, awards are given to the following 2013 model-year vehicles, listed in alphabetical order:

For complete coverage of the 2013 Initial Quality Study, please visit

Additional Research:

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