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Long-term vehicle quality up: study

November 17, 2010

Long-term vehicle quality improved by 5 percent industry-wide in 2008, with an overall decrease of 10 problems per 100 vehicles, compared to 2007, a new J.D. Power study found. Also, more than 60 percent of the 38 nameplates studied reduced their problems since last year.

The 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study found that Lexus, for the 14th straight year, ranked highest in vehicle dependability, followed by Mercury, Cadillac, Toyota and Acura, respectively.

The compact car and midsize car segments have much lower problem levels in 2008 than in 2007, and together account for more than half of the overall industry improvement.

"The gains in dependability for compact and midsize vehicles are good news for consumers who are downsizing their vehicles due to increasing fuel prices," said David Sargent of J.D. Power.

"Consumers who purchase these smaller vehicles benefit not only from immediate gains in fuel economy, but also from improvements in long-term dependability, compared with previous years."

The study is based on responses from 52,000 original owners of 2005 model-year vehicles. Five of the top 10 problems cited were also among the top 10 most frequently reported problems in the 2005 Initial Quality Study, suggesting that the problems are identified by owners during the initial ownership period but have not been rectified by automakers during the three-year ownership period.

The problems include:

• Excessive wind noise
• Noisy brakes
• Vehicle pulling to the left or right
• Issues with the instrument panel/dashboard
• Excessive window fogging

"Although automakers have achieved tremendous gains in initial quality and dependability in recent years by specifically addressing customer concerns, these particular problems still prove challenging for manufacturers," Sargent said.