Vehicle Dependability Declines in 3-Year Ownership

Infotainment systems and driver assistance alerts have emerged as sources of frustration for owners.

Survey respondents reported nearly twice as many issues with their cars' infotainment systems as in the next-highest category, exterior. Image via Shutterstock.

Owners are finding their vehicles less reliable over three years of ownership, a recent study by J.D. Power revealed. The 2024 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) showed an increase in problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), marking a concerning trend in long-term vehicle dependability.

The study, which spans 184 specific problem areas in nine major vehicle categories, found the industry average for problems has risen to 190 PP100, up from 186 PP100 in the previous year. This deterioration in dependability is surprising, given that J.D. Power's VDS model results typically mirror those of the Initial Quality Study for the same model year.

"This can likely be attributed to the tumultuous time during which these vehicles were built, and owners are keeping their vehicles for much longer," said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power.

Infotainment systems have emerged as a significant source of frustration for vehicle owners, with issues in this category nearly doubling those in the next-highest category, exterior. Connectivity problems with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with built-in voice recognition difficulties, are the most prevalent issues.

Additionally, the study highlights growing annoyance with driver assistance system alerts, which increase over time rather than becoming more familiar to the driver. This includes alerts from features such as lane departure warning and forward collision warning.

Electrified vehicles, including battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), are reported to have more problems than their gas-powered and hybrid counterparts. BEVs, in particular, pose the most issues, with a significant number of owners having to replace tires within the first three years of ownership.

Despite the overall downturn in dependability, Toyota Motor Corporation stood out for its high number of segment awards, the most received by any automaker since 2017. Lexus, a Toyota brand, ranked highest overall in vehicle dependability for the second consecutive year.

The most improved brands in terms of reduced problems per 100 vehicles include Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.

The 2024 study was based on responses from more than 30,000 original owners of 2021 model-year vehicles.

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