Report: Auto Quality Slips for First Time in 15 Years

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Feb. 13, 2014—A report released by J.D. Power & Associates in February reveals that average quality in the auto industry has fallen for the first time in 16 years.

The J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study surveyed 41,000 owners of 2011 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership, measuring the frequency of issues in particular makes and models.

Engine hesitation and rough transmission shifts were the biggest causes for the drop, with about six out of 100 vehicles having encountered trouble related to one or the other. There were 133 problems per 100 vehicles reported, compared with the previous year’s 126 problems. It is the first increase since 1998.

“Until this year, we have seen a continual improvement in vehicle dependability,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, in a prepared statement. “However, some of the changes that automakers implemented for the 2011 model year have led to a noticeable increase in problems reported.”

J.D. Power noted that 56 percent of owners who don’t face vehicle issues stay with that brand when making another car purchase. Brand loyalty slid to 42 percent among owners who reported three or more problems, according to the study.

The brand with the least amount of problems was Lexus with 68 problems per 100 vehicles, followed by Mercedes-Benz with 104, Cadillac with 107, Acura with 109 and Buick with 112. The bottom five brands include Hyundai with 169 problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep with 178, Land Rover with 179, Dodge with 181 and Mini with 185. 

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