Vehicle dependability drops; more engine, transmission problems

Vehicle dependability drops; more engine, transmission problems

Owners of 3-year-old vehicles (2011 model year) report 6 percent more problems than owners of 3-year old vehicles last year, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Its the first time since 1998 that the number of problems has increased.

Some of the changes that automakers implemented for the 2011 model year have led to a noticeable increase in problems reported, said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power.

Engine and transmission problems accounted for the majority of the increase. The decline in quality is particularly acute for vehicles with 4-cylinder engines and those with large diesel engines.

While striving to reduce fuel consumption, automakers must be careful not to compromise quality, said Sargent. Increases in such problems as engine hesitation, rough transmission shifts and lack of power indicate that this is a continuing challenge.

Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability for the third straight year. The gap between Lexus and the rest is substantial, but following it are Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Acura and Buick.

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