2011 Vehicle Dependability Study Results

Jeff Youngs | Dec 30, 2010

Measuring vehicle quality after 3 years of ownership

Vehicle Dependability Trophy
For vehicle buyers today, the importance of quality cannot be understated-especially when spending upwards of $30,000, on average, for a new vehicle. In fact, the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) reveals that reliability/durability is the single-most-important factor when buyers are considering a new vehicle, even more so than fuel economy, interior comfort, or exterior styling. Fortunately for consumers, automakers continue to make steady gains in long-term vehicle quality across the board.

However, even with these improvements, significant differences still exist when comparing the quality of domestically produced cars and trucks to that of vehicles manufactured in Asia and Europe. According to the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study-which details the problems reported by owners of three-year-old (2008 model year) cars and light trucks during the preceding 12 months-vehicles produced by Asian manufacturers experienced fewer problems-141 problems per 100 (PP100)-than those produced by European (159 PP100) or domestic (162 PP100) automakers. (A lower PP100 score reflects higher quality.)
"Reliability/durability is the single-most-important factor when buyers are considering a new vehicle."
Even though, according to consumers, Asian manufacturers achieve higher levels of long-term vehicle quality than do their counterparts in Europe and North America, further analysis reveals that significant differences in the levels of long-term vehicle quality exist depending on where a vehicle was built.

For example, vehicles built by Asian manufacturers in Asia achieve a score of 133 PP100, whereas those built in North America achieve a score of 146 PP100-a difference of 13 PP100. Likewise, vehicles built by European manufacturers in Europe come in at 156 PP100, whereas vehicles built by those same automakers in North America have 170 PP100-an even bigger difference of 14 PP100. This suggests that manufacturers have some work to do when it comes to making sure that quality standards are fully understood and adhered to by their overseas workforce-so that consumers on both sides of the ocean benefit from the same levels of quality.In addition, the dependability of domestically produced cars has improved at nearly twice the rate-19% over three years-as that of imported cars (10% over the same period). Conversely, the quality of imported trucks (up 12% over the last three years) has improved more than twice as fast as that of domestically produced trucks (up only 5%). Also, imported crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) hold a 7-percentage point advantage in vehicle dependability over domestically produced CUVs (16% vs. 9%, respectively).

According to the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study, batteries are the most commonly replaced vehicle component during the third year of ownership. In all, 5.8% of survey respondents indicated that they had to replace their car or truck battery during this time, much sooner than the 4-5 year life expectancy that is sometimes indicated in advertising by battery makers. This may suggest that all of the technology found on today's vehicles, which seems to be increasing by the day, is having a negative impact on battery life. The other two most commonly replaced vehicle components were brake rotors (5%) and tire-pressure-monitoring systems (3.7%).

Following are some of the other highlights from the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study:

New Car Preview
2019 Kia Sorento Preview
Most Dependable
2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Coupes and Convertibles
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Hatchbacks and Wagons
New Model Update
New for 2018: BMW
New Car Preview
2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe Preview
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