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2014 Initial Quality Study: Top 3 Reasons for Decline in Initial Quality

2014 Initial Quality Study: Top 3 Reasons for Decline in Initial Quality

By Jeff Youngs,

The J.D. Power 2014 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) measures customer satisfaction with the quality of new vehicles after the first 90 days of ownership. This year, there was a 3% increase in problems compared with 2013, with the largest increases in reported problems occurring in the three following categories, and in this order:
  • Vehicle Exterior
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN)

These results correlate with the findings of the J.D. Power 2014 Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS), which measures customer satisfaction with vehicles after 3 years of ownership. In the 2014 VDS, both HVAC and ACEN were among the categories with the greatest increase in reported problems.

According to the 2014 IQS, new-vehicle owners report the highest number of problems in three specific areas. The first two are related to the ACEN category:
  • Built-in voice recognition frequently doesn't recognize/misinterprets commands
  • Built-in Bluetooth mobile phone/device frequent pairing/connectivity issues

The increase in reported problems in the aforementioned and other aspects related to ACEN systems shows that automakers are struggling to offer technology that consumers find easy to use.

"Automakers are trying to give consumers the new features and technology they want without introducing additional quality problems into their vehicles," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "However, almost all automakers are struggling to do this flawlessly."

The number of problems reported by new-vehicle owners also increased in the following:
  • Media device ports--difficult to use/poor location
  • Tire-pressure monitoring system--broken or not working
  • Clock--controls/displays difficult to use/poor location

The 2014 IQS also correlates with the findings of the 2014 VDS in terms of reported problems with vehicle powertrains. In this year's IQS, the third most commonly cited and specific initial quality problem was:
  • Seat materials scuff/soil easily

Vehicle owners continue to cite problems with HVAC systems. In this year's IQS, the number of reported problems associated with issues that can arise during bad weather also increased, including:
  • Heater doesn't achieve/maintain desired temperature
  • Windows fog up excessively/don't clear quickly

"Automakers test vehicles in extreme conditions to ensure they function properly," said Sargent. "However, it is impossible to completely negate the effects of severe weather. Consumers generally understand this but still report problems when their vehicle does not wholly live up to their expectations."

Additional Research:

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