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Most owners of 3-year-old cars still love 'em, J.D. Power finds

March 9, 2018
The affection U.S. consumers have for their 3-year-old vehicles is apparent in the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, released recently. In addition, overall vehicle dependability improved 9 percent from 2017, the first time since 2013 that the industry score has improved.
The J.D. Power study, now in its 29th year, measures the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles during the past 12 months by original owners of 2015 model-year vehicles. A lower score reflects higher quality. The study covers 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories. The overall industry average improved by 14 fewer problems per 100 vehicles in 2017 compared to the previous study.
"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 percent 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."
Among the study’s key findings:
• In-vehicle technology continues to be most problematic: Audio/Communications/Entertainment/Navigation remains a troublesome category for vehicle owners, receiving the highest frequency of complaints. The two most common problems relate to built-in voice recognition and built-in Bluetooth connectivity.
• Mass Market brands continue to close the gap with Luxury brands: The Mass Market average is now just 7 problems per 100 vehicles behind the Luxury average of 136. This is a result of many high-volume vehicles rewarding their owners with excellent long-term dependability.
J.D. Power reports that vehicle residual values can be significantly affected by better long-term quality.
"Strong dependability scores not only improve demand for used vehicles, but also are a contributor to higher residual values," said Jonathan Banks, vice president of vehicle analysis and Analytics at J.D. Power. "Improving dependability ultimately supports new vehicle sales and provides a better perception of the brand."