By on February 13, 2014


In a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, the analyst group has found an increase in the average of dependability problems per 100 cars, the first such increase since 1998.

Autoblog reports that the firm’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study found an average of 133 issues per 100 cars made in 2011 among the 41,000 respondents who participated, up 6 percent from 126 problems per 100 cars found in 2010 models in last year’s study. The majority of the issues stem from the drivetrain, particularly those utilizing four-cylinder and diesel engines; five- and six-cylinder powerplants were less problematic.

As for the brands with the least problems, Lexus takes the prize for the third consecutive year with only 68 issues per 100 units, while Mercedes-Benz (104), Cadillac (107), Acura (109) and Buick (112) rounding out the top five.

Among the automakers, General Motors took home eight dependability awards for their 2011 models, including the Volt, Escalade and Lucerne, while Toyota won seven among their trio of brands, and Honda taking home six awards.

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39 Comments on “J.D. Power: Increase In Dependability Problems For 1st Time Since 1998...”

  • avatar

    “The majority of the issues stem from the drivetrain, particularly those utilizing four-cylinder and diesel engines”

    5.7-Liter and 6.4-Liter V8 FTW!!!

    #2 I wonder what % of those dependability issues came from infotainment systems that were difficult to use?

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking the same thing, to your #2 point. This will continue to increase, with dumber people having access to more complicated infotainment systems.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe it’s because there are more 4 cylinder and diesel motors than before?

    • 0 avatar

      The article states that the majority of issues are powertrain related. I suspect that it is a result of direct gas injection and turbocharging becoming more common, as well as new multi-speed automatic and CVT transmissions being introduced. Any time you have new technology being introduced you are going to have teething problems. Same thing with diesel engines, more emission controls.

      • 0 avatar

        Absolutely. You hit it right on the head.

        While Volvo has had reliable turbos for years (decades), I am not sure that everyone can jump onto that bandwagon as successfully. And we already know that GDI requires huge pressures to be exerted by a fuel pump, better micro-filters, and does not cool the intake values like multi-port (multi-point.)

        My question has been: forget the JP Powers results in this 3-year study: what about an 11-year study with these gadgets, since 11 years (11.4) is the new average ownership lifetime of cars in America? (Yes, I know: 11 years haven’t gone by yet for most cars with DGI and Turbo.)


    • 0 avatar

      Wait till they figure out how to mate a mass produced DSG box with those V8s lol!

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    GM is looking good.

  • avatar

    I love it when people rest things on brand new car paint. It’s just my favorite.


  • avatar

    Note to site staff: Please discontinue using the GIANT Toyota ad at the top of every article. It makes me sad.

  • avatar

    There’s nothing about 4-cylinder engines that makes them inherently unreliable. Is the problem really 4-cylinder *turbo* engines? A bunch of new ones have come out in recent years.

    • 0 avatar

      Turbos have worse reliability ratings in CR and other places, as there’s more that could go wrong. Groups such as Ford are trying to use less cylinders and make them turbocharged for more power and better gas mileage. Honestly, groups should just stay natural. The 2.4 liter that Hyundai has has been fairly reliable, while the more powerful 2.0 T is having issues.

      • 0 avatar

        But.. but.. won’t somebody think of the EmPeeGees!

        After all 2.0 turbos can get like 70MPG, run 0-60 in less than 3 seconds, and sh1t ice cream. At least that what I hear in these parts… I’m sure before long they’ll replace V8’s in muscle cars and trucks.

        We’re running into the problem of selling numbers on paper instead of quality. I’m enamored by my 2010 Kia’s engine, but I wouldn’t touch a 2014 with a 10 foot pole.

        I only drive 3 pedals, so all the DCT, DSG, CVT nonsense is dead to my ears anyway. New for 2018! 20-speed automatic transmissions! More numbers means more awesome! Yawn.

        • 0 avatar

          kvndoom – – –

          Yup. My ’96 Dodge Ram is 18 years old. Only thing wrong was a starting motor that went out under warranty in 1997. Other than that, nothing. So, how much $$$ have I saved over my tragic ’06 BMW 325i that cost me $1,000 for a steering mechanism replacement, after leaving me stranded? How much was compensation for my subsequent foul mood worth?

          Maybe fuel mileage should be measure by fool mileage.


  • avatar

    One sure-fire way to increase auto sales: Engineered obsolescence. Instead of building a car that lasts for, say, 10 years, make it last only 7.

    Problem solved.

    • 0 avatar

      Planned obscolescence only works if there’s no competition. That is why WV suffered when they introduced it into U.S. a few years ago. A wave of first-time purchasers occured, but then most people figured it out.

      • 0 avatar

        And planned obsolescence has been tried before by the Detroit 3 up until GM and Chrysler died in 2009.

        But many people are taking Zack’s advice by keeping their new car only for the length of the factory warranty period, and letting the repair costs be someone else’s worry. This has become my new philosophy — buy new and then trade before the warranty expires.

        Another option is perpetual leasing — i.e. leasing a brand new vehicle after the lease contract ends, time and again.

        Two old guys I know are doing exactly that. They may have an old beater pickup truck they keep around to make runs to Home Depot, Lowe’s and the Dump, but their daily driver is a brand spanking new luxury ride.

      • 0 avatar

        Every time a VW breaks down a German engineer gets his wings.

  • avatar

    It’s not just people adjusting their driving perceptions who are com from a V6 or V8 to a high strung 4 cylinder mated to a new generation of transmissions.

    Progress to be at the bleeding edge of fuel economy means there is a lot engineering out there that hasn’t been time tested.

    • 0 avatar

      I fear you are right. The last time we had such an infusion of untested tech, we called it the “Malaise Era”. Could CAFE be doing what emissions did for us in the ’70s?

    • 0 avatar

      4-cylinder cars with high MPG claims probably suffer more from inflated marketing claims/consumer expectations than real mechanical issues.

      Go to any small-car gripe forum these days and you’ll find an endless parade of people insisting that something’s wrong with their car because it doesn’t get 40 mpg. And the dealer of course can’t fix it. Presto… instant engine problem on the JD Power survey.

  • avatar

    Your words are ” utilizing four-cylinder and diesel engines”… The press release specifies that the diesel engines are “larger”, sadly it is vague on what that means but I assume it refers to those found in trucks, which is not the same as those found in smaller cars. Your words ignore that distinction altogether.
    Probably nit picking here but I feel that it is a fairly important distinction that has been raised but not clarified.

    Much blame seems to be placed on “rough” transmissions… Jeez! The only rough transmissions I know are ones that change gears themselves!

  • avatar

    For Lexus, if only 68 flaws were found out of 100 vehicles that means that some were flawless (by JD Power standards). That’s damn impressive.

  • avatar

    The problem I have with JD Powers is that all we have is the press release. It comes down to, I don’t trust them especially when their “reports” are so superficial and seemingly designed for car manufacturer’s to use as advertising. Also I’m not sure how relevent 2011 cars are to 2014 cars, especially considering all the new powertrains.

    • 0 avatar

      All the more reason to buy an ’11.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree! JDP has a report for any manufacturer willing to pay the price for it, but in this case JDP only confirmed what others have already brought to light earlier.

      We may find that 2014 cars may be significantly better than 2011, 2012, and 2013 cars. Or not. But for that we have to wait until 2017.

      In the mean time, stay tuned to ttac for the latest and the greatest. I’m interested to see how JDP rates the 2014 Grand Cherokee and Cherokee.

  • avatar

    It sounds as if JD Power has expanded its definition of “dependability” to include items that aren’t breaking or are otherwise unreliable.

    If a customer isn’t happy that his car is “underpowered” (whatever that means) or that it has an automatic transmission that shifts more than the driver might like, then that would reflect the failure of the product to provide satisfaction, not an indication that the vehicle itself is prone to failure.

    I read JD Power’s press release, and still didn’t know what to make of it. It might behoove someone to contact them, and determine whether these findings may be misleading.

  • avatar

    Lexus is on a whole other planet.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    That would have been Toyota as well, if they had kept production at home, where these Lexus vehicles are now made.

  • avatar

    “Ford Quality”………….is still a myth.

  • avatar

    Every time CR gives VW some new dings, a VW engineer gets his wings!


  • avatar

    Manufacturers trade fickle customer complaints for more margin.

  • avatar

    No surprise here.

    When bureaucratic regulations start to distort the market, something has to give. When CAFE standards press manufacturers for every last fractional increase, priorities change. Complex Rube Goldberg designs trump engineering for reliability.

    70s all over again.

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