Record consumer complaints to NHTSA about vehicle software

Record consumer complaints to NHTSA about vehicle software

Consumer complaints about vehicle software have been growing steadily over the past several years, and 2016 is already on pace with the record pace of 2015, according to J.D. Power. So far this year, consumers have filed 202 formal complaints with NHTSA about software that controls the technology in vehicles. A total of 615 complaints were filed in 2015.

–Consumer complaints are the canaries in the coal mine for automobile manufacturers when it comes to anticipating future recalls and longer-term customer satisfaction,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J. D. Power. –Software-related problem have become much more prevalent and, if not addressed, could begin to erode consumer trust in new automotive technology.”

J.D. Power has found a connection between the complaints lodged and recall decisions. Powertrain, electrical systems, engine cooling and vehicle control systems are the top areas for software complaints and recalls.

Over a longer period, technical service bulletins about software problems have more than doubled, from an average of 58 per year from 2006 to 2010 to an average of 160 per year from 2011 to 2015. As J.D. Power says, manufacturers typically only use TSBs if they have received many complaints, particularly if the complaints do not seem to be addressed through regular warranty repairs.

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