Americans Buying More Cars Than Ever, And They Can't Stand Them

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Sick of recalls and rising costs, Americans are buying cars now, more than ever, and apparently they don’t like it, the Associated Press is reporting.

An annual survey of 4,300 new car owners revealed that overall satisfaction with new cars is at its lowest point since 2004. Most of that is due to repeated recalls, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Overall, consumer satisfaction dipped 3.7 percent, to 79 out of 100 points.

“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder, said in a statement. “The number of recalls is at an all-time high. This should not happen with modern manufacturing technology and has negative consequences for driver safety, costs and customer satisfaction.”

Lexus ranked highest among manufacturers with a score of 84, followed closely by Mercedes (83), Acura (83) and Lincoln (83). Foreign automakers, generally speaking, did well in the survey — Subaru, BMW and Toyota all scored 82 points, despite dipping from last year’s survey.

Domestic automakers such as Ford (81) and General Motors (79) did well, however Fiat Chrysler (75) had four of its brands — Dodge (76), Jeep (75), Chrysler (74) and Fiat (73) — at the bottom of its list.

Interestingly, Japanese and Korean automakers have gained ground in satisfaction on domestic and European brands.

americans buying more cars than ever and they cant stand them
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  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Aug 27, 2015

    With a third operating used car dealership and an ear to the ground and through the grape vine the most 10 common complaints I hear almost daily are the following: 1) Cost of newer cars, especially the latest replacements 2) Complicated and annoying technologies such as touch screens, sync, Cue etc to name a few. 3) Rotary or push button shift knobs- people keep reaching for these thinking they are fan speed or wiper speed adjustments 4) Lack of interior color choices- a major sore point in today's cost cutting world 5) Fake cloth seat material- the abrasive sand paper feeling stuff that makes getting seat stains out nearly impossible on light gray and tan colors 6) Gun slit windows and massive A-pillars- yes I'm looking at you LaCrosse, Taurus, Camaro,300, Mustang etc. 7) Lack of choice when it comes to options- many single items like remote start or a seat or radio upgrade come bundled into 2-4K option packages full of crap that many don't want or need. 8) Considerably more complex computers, electronics and bus systems that make troubleshooting and diagnosing intermittent issues very very difficult if not impossible in many cases. If one little thing goes wrong chances are you will be stuck on the side of road and not to resolve it yourself 9) Rock hard seats- I understand that everything has to have lateral support and major grip around corners if it's going to get Car & Driver's stamp of approval but come on. Some of these newer cars and Cuv's seats are like sitting on park benches. 10) Turning radius and tire sizes- yes folks we have approached a time when turning around in the middle of the street is impossible without several corrections going into reverse. The FWD layout of the vast majority of today's cars, SUV's and CUV's coupled with massive over sized tires has seen to that. And speaking of those tires, costs have skyrocketed with many vehicles using 18, 19 and even 20" rubber and some are even using 21 and 22". These also can have the affect of increasing road noise, impact harshness and foul weather traction is very poor in many cases, especially in snow and ice forcing yet another cost on the consumer- snow tires!

    • NMGOM NMGOM on Aug 27, 2015

      ponchoman49 - - - Wow. Excellent comment. Parallels my experience and observations exactly. Makes me long for the cushy days of a 1950's Buick Roadmaster. ================

  • Ruggles Ruggles on Aug 27, 2015

    As new vehicles become increasingly complex, there will be more rather than less of this. This is a two sided coin, as most are. Increasingly we see people looking for low mile older vehicles to escape the complexity of new ones. I'm still pained I can't check my own oil with a dip stick. I'm still pained to have to drive around with a warning light on because of some small glitch that the dealer handles in a few seconds, yet charges me $95. just to "look at it." Yea, I know, he has to hook me up to an expensive machine, which is what has fueled the growth of companies like CarMD. On the other hand, we see increased pre-owned value volatility for some vehicles that lack more current and desired technology. For a while it was NAV systems, which many now eschew because they have it on their phone. Back up cameras and lane change warning systems seem to have particular value to consumers. At some point, a vehicle without Flex Fuel capability may have reduced value on the pre-owned market. Lots to consider going forward.

  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Aug 27, 2015

    New cars are for schmucks. 393,000 on my S-10 and no complaints here. b-b-b-but it might break

    • NMGOM NMGOM on Aug 27, 2015

      JD-Shifty - - Yup, and I done been "schmucked" too many times, --- with cars, never with trucks. Congratulations on the good care you gave your S-10, and the success you are heaving with it. Had a '74 Dodge D100 Club Cab, with a similar (but not as high a milage) success story. ===========================

  • Unimoged Unimoged on Dec 25, 2015

    Actually it is not hate that drives this equation. It is clarity of vision that millennials exhibit at a higher level when compared to the generations they are preceding. Why would anyone want to own a car outright. Does anyone own a private electric power generation station, or a water treatment plant or cellphone anymore? Car ownership is heading for a major demise since people need transportation that varies by location, day of the week, time of the day, season, life style, health condition, age and family size. OEMs are way behind on finding a solution to this catastrophic change that is coming. Instead, OEMs continue to mass produce cars blindly in highly automated factories, with an approach of “build it and they will buy” and since not all these cars can be sold, the OEMs tack on these major incentives that range between 2000 and 10000 dollars so the iron can be moved off the dealers lots, to make space for more cars. Even worse, OEM finance companies have lowered their standard for loans and they are no different now then the Buy Here Pay Here sleaze used car lots that put people in debt at 28% interest. This model is broken and it is no more than a house of cards supported with rear view style sales methods. The millennials have wised up to this game. I am sure they will drive the change necessary to move away from owning a car to subscribing for various forms of transportation needs. Wouldn’t that be great. No more car salesmen on TV at all hours of the day hogging the broadcasts with car ads for vehicles that we can do without.