J.D. Power: Auto dependability ratings hit new high

Every year around this time, J.D. Power publishes the results of its annual U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. That’s a major piece of research–especially for used car buyers, because it looks at three-year-old vehicles and the number of problems they’ve had since rolling off the assembly line.

This year, dependability ratings jumped 9%, hitting a record high (though FCA brands were stuck at or near the bottom, as always). Even better: the quality gap between luxury and mass-market rides is shrinking. Here are a few tidbits from Power’s press release:

The study, now in its 29th year, measures the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the past 12 months by original owners of 2015 model-year vehicles. A lower score reflects higher quality, and the study covers 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories. The overall industry average improves by 14 PP100 to 142 PP100 from 156 PP100 in 2017.

“For the most part, automotive manufacturers continue to meet consumers’ vehicle dependability expectations,” said Dave Sargent, Vice President, Global Automotive at J.D. Power. “A 9% improvement is extremely impressive, and vehicle dependability is, without question, at its best level ever. For people looking for a new or used model, now is a good time to find that special vehicle.”

Following are some of the study’s key findings:

In-vehicle technology continues to be most problematic: Audio/Communications/ Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN) remains a troublesome category for vehicle owners, receiving the highest frequency of complaints. The two most common problems relate to built-in voice recognition (9.3 PP100) and built-in Bluetooth connectivity (7.7 PP100).

Mass Market brands continue to close the gap with Luxury brands: The Mass Market average (143 PP100) is now just 7 PP100 behind the Luxury average (136 PP100). This is a result of many high-volume vehicles rewarding their owners with excellent long-term dependability.

See how your current or future ride stacks up against the competition at JDPower.com.