Skip to main content
HOME   |   ABOUT   |   NEWS   |   TECH ARTICLES   |   AT THE TRACK   |   REVIEWS   |   VIDEOS   |   CONTACT ME

J.D. Power Dependability Study - It Isn't One




J.D. Power released its 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study about three weeks ago. I don't like their rating criteria, though. According to J.D. Power, the study "examines problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old (2012 model year) vehicles. Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality. The study has been enhanced in 2015 to better measure problems related to new technologies and features that are now being offered in today's vehicles."

There are two problems right there. The first is that the problems are reported by owners, not the dealer so there may be issues that are only perceived to be problems. For example, I have heard and read about plenty of owners thinking they have engine or transmission problems and bringing their cars in to get fixed because they aren't accustomed to continuously variable transmission (CVT) noises. Another common issue that I know of is owners unaware of noises associated with direct injection (DI) gas engines. Because of the high fuel pressure DI gas engines run at, they have a ticking noise that can sometimes be heard at idle if there isn't much traffic noise (say in a parking lot). These two perfectly normal noises can be reported as problems when they aren't which is why a problem should be based on warranty repair records.

Another, and a much bigger, issue is better measuring "problems related to new technologies and features". I'm sorry, but I do NOT think of "new technologies and features" when I think of dependability. According to the press release, "bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition issues are the most frequently reported problems after three years of ownership, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study." Dependability, as the name suggests, should measure how much you can depend on your car. If your bluetooth does not work but your car still starts and goes perfectly fine, it's dependable. If you think that if the bluetooth or voice recognition feature does not work, you cannot depend on your car, you have no business driving.

Don't get me wrong, I think those issues should be accounted for. It shouldn't be called a dependability study, though. It should be called a "Satisfaction Study" or a "Quality Study". These sound all encompassing. They sound like they rating everything about the car. A Dependability Study sounds like it is rating which cars are most likely to never have drivetrain, suspension or body problems but that's not what they base it on.

Until they do that, I'll be taking the results of this study with a grain of salt. It's probably safe to say that the top 10 brands in this study are pretty darn reliable, regardless of measuring criteria. These brands are:

1 - Lexus
2 - Buick
3 - Toyota
4 - Cadillac
5 - Honda/Porsche (tie)
6 - Lincoln
7 - Mercedes-Benz
8 - Scion
9 - Chevrolet/GMC (tie).
10 - Acura

Beyond these, though, I wouldn't rely on the study for a measure of vehicle reliability. Looking at Lincoln and Ford proves my point. The comparison is eye popping in terms of number of problems. Lincoln has only 118 problems per 100 vehicles while Ford has 188, a whopping 70 additional problems per 100 vehicles sold, an almost 60% increase in problems while Lincolns and Fords are very mechanically similar. I'm sure Fords are just as reliable as Lincolns but Fords are bought by younger people who utilize their infotainment systems more and probably run into unintuitive features or bugs more often. In my opinion, you can count on the top 10 to be reliable but you shouldn't count out the others as being unreliable or use the ranking alone to determine which brand is more reliable and make a buying decision, except for maybe the bottom two; Land Rover and Fiat.


Comments







Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.






Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.




🔥 Most Visited This Week

2007 Saleen Mustang S281 SC Super Shaker Track Review

"Who's your green student today?" asked a friend and instructor at the BMW Club Atlantic Advanced Driver Training (HPDE) weekend in June this year. I said: "The Saleen." The response was: "Oh, boy." Mustangs, generally, have a reputation for being more power than chassis. Mustang drivers have quite the reputation for.. how to put this nicely? Taking advantage of said power/chassis imbalance. To make matters worse, this particular Mustang was a supercharged Saleen, with a honkin' Shaker scoop sticking out of its hood. Did I mention it was also a convertible? And the owner was someone who's never been on track before but clearly has the speed bug. Having had a Mustang for years and driven a few on track, they don't scare me - generally speaking - but the combination of being convertible and supercharged with a new and excited owner worried me a little. Nevertheless, I shrugged it off and got excited about chatting with the owner to find

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track load

Falken Azenis RT615k+ Street and Track Review

Last year, I picked up a 2009 Lancer Ralliart to do a long term test with it as a dual duty track/daily. One of the first things I knew I was going to do was put a decent set of tires on it. The car came without OEM wheels which was actually good because I didn't have to hesitate about getting a good set of aftermarket wheels to support going wider. Thankfully, my friends at YST Auto Halifax  set me up with a great set of Superspeed RF03RR wheels. The Wheels I had never even heard of Superspeed but I trusted the good folk at YST Auto who mentioned some customer cars running on track with them. These wheels are rotary forged which is basically a prerequisite to be taken seriously in this market populated by companies like TSW and Fast Wheels. The wheels looked like a high quality, well finished wheel and each had a "QC" check sticker on. Just for appearances? Maybe, but I found no defects. The wheels seemed easy to balance (didn't need many weights) and at 18.1 lb. f

2014 BMW 335i xDrive M Sport Review

Post-refresh 2015 F30 3-series pictured.  Which is better, an F30 3-series or an E46? The F30 has certainly taken its fair share of heat. But if you thought I was going to say the E46, you'd be dead wrong. The F30 3-series is better. Far better. It is quicker, faster, safer, more practical, more efficient, more refined, quieter.. the list goes on. A lot of reviews and people I talk to consider the F30 to be an abomination. Frankly, I don't see it. You'd have to be mad to think the E46 is better. Completely out to lunch. I don't know who in their right mind would prefer the E46..  Trouble is, since when were people buying sports cars in their right minds? Here, lies the real problem. " Raw rather than refined in its noises, pounding ride, heavy clutch, 50 grand and cloth seats? " "..  and not at all shy about its performance compromises. It always acts like the automotive jock it is, every mile of every day. " " Raw and quite loud.. An