Vehicle dependability is slipping, according to the latest research from J.D. Power.

The J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study found vehicle owners are experiencing more problems after three years of ownership, which the research firm said indicates a decline in long-term vehicle dependability.

The industry average increased by 4 problems per 100 vehicles year-over-year to 190 PP100, with nearly two-thirds of brands studied showing an increase. The rate at which problems have increased between 90 days and three years of ownership rose five percentage points to 17%.

Frank Hanley, J.D. Power’s senior director of auto benchmarking, said in a news release that, “a deterioration of vehicle dependability is unusual” because the results for each model usually mirror those in the company’s Initial Quality Study. He cited the “tumultuous time during which these vehicles were built” and the fact that car owners are keeping their vehicles longer than ever as contributing factors.

“In fact,” he said, “the average age of vehicles on American roads today is approximately 12 years, which underscores the importance of building a vehicle designed to stand the test of time. Automakers must ensure new vehicle technology introduced today will still meet the customer’s needs years down the road.”

The study, now in its 35th year, covers 184 specific problem areas across nine major vehicle categories: climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls/displays, infotainment, interior, powertrain and seats.

Problem areas include:

Infotainment: Vehicle technology continues to increase, so it’s not surprising the most problematic category is infotainment at 49.1 PP100, nearly twice as many problems as the next-highest category, exterior. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity (6.3 PP100) and built-in voice recognition (6.1 PP100) are the top two infotainment issues.

Driver assistance alerts: The number of problems related to driver assistance system alerts has increased between the 90-day ownership period and the three-year ownership period.

“Many would think that after three years, owners would become used to the alerts on their vehicle,” Hanley said. “However, that is not the case. Increased problem levels are experienced across multiple driver assistance features including, but not limited to, lane departure warning/lane-keeping assistance and forward collision warning/automatic emergency braking.”

Electric vehicles problematic: Battery electric vehicles (256 PP100) and plug-in hybrids (216 PP100) have more problems than gas-powered (187 PP100) and hybrid vehicles (191 PP100). At three years of ownership, tires are a sore spot for BEVs, with 39% of owners saying they replaced tires in the previous 12 months, 19 percentage points more than gas-powered vehicles.


Highest-ranked brands

For the second consecutive year, Lexus ranked highest overall in vehicle dependability, scoring 135 PP100. Among premium brands, Porsche (175 PP100) was second and BMW (190 PP100) ranks third.

Toyota led the mass market segment at 147 PP100, followed by Buick (149 PP100), Chevrolet (174 PP100) and MINI (174 PP100).

Toyota Motor Co. — which includes the Lexus brand — topped all manufacturers with nine model-level awards, the most of any automaker since 2017, when it won 10 categories.

Toyota’s segment winners were the Lexus ES, Lexus IS, Lexus NX, Lexus RX, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra. General Motors earned four segment awards for the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Traverse and Chevrolet Tahoe, while BMW took two with its X1 and X6.

The most improved brands from the 2023 study were Porsche (33 PP100 improvement), Mercedes-Benz (22 PP100) and Toyota (21 PP100 improvement).

The J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 30,595 original owners of 2021 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was conducted from August through November 2023.