J.D. Power Release IQS. And?

Michael Karesh
by Michael Karesh

J.D. Power has released its Initial Quality Study (IQS) results. Once again, the scores combine design quality (stuff that can’t be fixed, like BMW's iDrive) and manufacturing quality (stuff that can and should be fixed). Once again, these results convey little useful information. For one thing, J.D. only releases the scores for makes, not for individual models. For another, the make scores are so close together that the rankings aren't particularly revealing. Only a single make beats the average (1.18 problems) by more than 20 percent: Porsche. The list of who’s doing 20 percent worse than average is longer: Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Saab, Suzuki, Saturn, Land Rover, MINI and Jeep. So these are the makes to avoid, right? It depends on how wound-up you get about a single additional initial problem for every three cars (you’re buying at least three, right?) in the first 90 days. And remember: J.D. doesn’t release individual model scores. At some point, J.D’ll give us “circle dots,” but these won’t divulge which models score poorly enough to earn only a single dot— the lowest score is two dots.

[Fair disclosure: Michael Karesh runs TrueDelta, which also measures vehicle quality.]

Michael Karesh
Michael Karesh

Michael Karesh lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with his wife and three children. In 2003 he received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. While in Chicago he worked at the National Opinion Research Center, a leader in the field of survey research. For his doctoral thesis, he spent a year-and-a-half inside an automaker studying how and how well it understood consumers when developing new products. While pursuing the degree he taught consumer behavior and product development at Oakland University. Since 1999, he has contributed auto reviews to Epinions, where he is currently one of two people in charge of the autos section. Since earning the degree he has continued to care for his children (school, gymnastics, tae-kwan-do...) and write reviews for Epinions and, more recently, The Truth About Cars while developing TrueDelta, a vehicle reliability and price comparison site.

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4 of 24 comments
  • AJ AJ on Jun 05, 2008

    New models often have more issues then the same vehicle on it's third year of production. Jeep has had a number of new models, such as the new redesigned Wrangler JK that has been a big seller, so that should also be taken into consideration. I would like to see how vehicles have been after five years as that would tell me more about how well built the are.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Jun 05, 2008
    90 day ratings is just done for marketing purposes. No, it's done because JD Power makes a lot of money selling its data to manufacturers, which then use the IQS to measure how their cars are managing fresh out of the factory. JD Power gives a fraction of its information to the public in order to stimulate enough public interest and credibility so that the manufacturers continue to subscribe to their services. I would like to see how vehicles have been after five years as that would tell me more about how well built the are. Consumer Reports and True Delta will tell you that. I'm guessing that JD Power offers 90-day and 3-year surveys because both of those fall within typical manufacturer warranty periods. The manufacturers aren't necessarily going to pay for data for the fifth year, when they don't provide any warranty coverage for that time period.
  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jun 05, 2008

    Useless information. Tell me 10 years out how the cars are doing and I'll pick a brand that I want to own from that list. Nope, I don't know how to measure that reliably either... Most of those vehicles are no longer dealer maintained. Guess we'd have to go around to the shops and talk to the mechanics.

  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jun 05, 2008

    Interestingly enough, IQS is a good measurement of a plant's ability to assemble a product. In that sense, it's reliable data. Even more interestingly, the top-rated pickup truck and large car are built at the very plant (Oshawa) that GM is going to close. That's strategy!