In what certainly comes as good news given how many of these vehicles are resurfacing in the used-car market — particularly as off-lease units — J.D. Power reported that overall dependability of 3-year-old vehicles is up 9 percent year-over-year.
And the dependability of vehicles is “without question, at its best level ever,” a company executive said.
Releasing the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study on Wednesday, the company said this gain marks the first annual improvement in five years.
For this study, J.D. Power measured dependability based on number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles among owners of 2015 model-year vehicles over the past 12 months.
Last year, there were 156 problems per 100 vehicles. That has been sliced to 142 problems per 100 vehicles.
“For the most part, automotive manufacturers continue to meet consumers’ vehicle dependability expectations,” said Dave Sargent, J.D. Power’s vice president, global automotive, in a news release.
“A 9-percent improvement is extremely impressive, and vehicle dependability is, without question, at its best level ever,” he said. “For people looking for a new or used model, now is a good time to find that special vehicle.”
And greater dependability doesn’t just help the owners of the cars.
It can drive new- and used-car sales as well as a stronger brand perception, according to J.D. Power.
“Strong dependability scores not only improve demand for used vehicles, but also are a contributor to higher residual values,” said Jonathan Banks, J.D. Power’s vice president of vehicle analysis and analytics.
“Improving dependability ultimately supports new-vehicle sales and provides a better perception of the brand,” he said.
There was one trouble spot of note. The most frequent complaints came in what’s called ACEN — audio/communications/entertainment/navigation. Within that group of in-vehicle technologies, built-in voice recognition (9.3 PP100) and built-in Bluetooth (7.7) were at the top of the problem list.
While two luxury brands topped the dependability rankings — Lexus at No. 1 for seventh straight year with score of 99 PP100; Porsche in second (100 PP100) — J.D. Power notes that mass-market brands have played some catch-up.
Led by Buick’s score of 116, mainstream brands’ average of 143 PP100 compared nicely to luxury counterparts (136 PP100). Fiat, for instance, trimmed its problems per 100 vehicles by 136 — the greatest improvement of any brand. Likewise, Nissan reduced PP100 by 37 and fellow mass-market brand Ford (down 31) had big dependability improvements.
Kia (in fifth), Dodge (in 23rd) and Nissan (11th) had their best-ever rankings.