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Vehicle Dependability Study: Top 10 Problems in 3-Year-Old Vehicles

By: Jeff Youngs, 2/18/2014
Automakers are improving their vehicles in terms of paint finishes and braking systems, but owners are simultaneously experiencing more problems with powertrains, hands-free connections, and wind noise, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS). This year, the annual study's findings are based on more than 41,000 survey responses completed by original owners of 3-year-old vehicles (2011 model year).

These are the top 10 problems most commonly experienced by vehicle owners, listed in order of frequency:

1. Excessive wind noise
2. Paint peeling/fading/chipping
3. Brakes are noisy
4. Battery failed
5. Brakes vibrate/shudder
6. Hands-free communication does not recognize command
7. "Check engine" light indicated a problem (tie)
7. Air conditioning doesn't get cold enough, fast enough (tie)
7. Materials scuff/soil easily (tie)
10. Automatic transmission shifts roughly during normal driving

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

Compared with last year's study, the 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study shows significantly higher problems in terms of wind noise, hands-free command recognition, "check engine" light, and automatic transmission shift quality. At the same time, the study reflects significantly lower problems in terms of exterior paint finishes and braking systems.

Collectively, these 10 most common problems account for nearly 25% of the total problems that vehicle owners experienced in the latest Vehicle Dependability Study.

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