Unreliable Cars of 2009

JD Power’s list of shame is out! Some newcomers are shocking, and others are notable by their absence. As you may know, JD Power’s dependability rating counts the number of problems per hundred cars. They don’t classify the problems; just note that they exist. Here they are, from best (?) to worst, including failures per 100 cars:

Mazda 163
Suzuki 167
Kia 169
VW 169
Infiniti 172
Jaguar 172
Jeep 179
Dodge 183
Chrysler 192

What happened to Range Rover? Where’s MINI? MINI just missed the honor and Range Rover isn’t included. I’d guess sales were too low to qualify. The top 5, in a good way were:

  1. Lexus
  2. Porsche
  3. Cadillac
  4. Toyota
  5. Scion

Interesting. I would have expected better from Infinity and Mazda.
I’ll probably stop my Barnes and Nobles just to look. Seeing what they’re classifying as defects would help to put some context into the data. Or put the data into some context. Or whatever.

I put very very little stock into JD Powers.

I do too. Any “rating” ogganization that sells their awards is inherantly suspect. And “initial quality” don;t mean squat. Well, it means a little bit, but not as much as long term reliability. .

Yet, they rate Lexus #1, Toyota #4, and Scion #5. Most of you guys would no doubt agree with that. But it doesn’t mean anything to you? And CR sells their ratings, too. Do you buy into their take on the reliability?

CR is probably better…but their data has been proven to be flawed too.

Just because the data matches what I’ve personally observed…doesn’t mean that the data is valid.

Initial quality means almost nothing. You can’t conclude that the initial quality equates to long-term reliability.

Take a look at past years and compare them to what the industry is saying NOW about those vehicles.

This was not the initial quality survey. This is the 2012 dependability study. They report on the number of faults per 100 vehicles 3 years after the model year. This report is only for the 2009 model year.

I think the initial quality survey is useful because it gives you an idea of whether to expect to return your car for a repair that is related to an assembly, prep, or delivery problem. It shouldn’t be used alone when considering a vehicle, but it can be useful. Note, too, that a lot of folks have mentioned poor reliability for VW, Jaguar, and Chrysler products. This survey seems to go along with those observations, too.

“And CR sells their ratings, too.”

I would be very interested in hearing the evidence you have for this allegation.
If you can substantiate this allegation, you need to bring it to the attention of the national media.
If it is not substantiated, you need to be very careful about making libelous statements.

They sell their ratings to you and me in their magazine, annual recap, and auto specialty magazines. IMO, they compressed heir ratings over the years to remain relevant. By compressed, I mean that the difference between a excellent and poor rating can be as little as 3%. I believe they are honest in their ratings, and I know that they are willing to disclose what failure rate earns a rating because I read it in an annual car rating magazine they publish. It seems to me that if they made the spread 5 or more %, they would have a lot more excellent ratings and this might have an adverse effect on their sales.

JT–There is a difference between an entity that sells magazines and books listing their ratings to consumers, and an entity that charges a fee to the companies that they are rating for an “award”.
In the latter case, it may well constitute a conflict of interest, while in the first case that is simply known as commerce.

VDC, I contend that trying to remain relevant in the face of across the board improvement in automobile quality led CR to change their ratings over the years to still provide a similar distribution of excellent to poor models. That could be construed as a conflict of interest.

One reason, and a big one IMO, that this across the board drop in failure rate occurred is that CR provided these ratings. This publicity helped cause the rise in sales of higher quality brands and forced those with lesser quality to get better or possibly go out of business.

MSN Autos buys reliability information from AIS/Identifix. AIS gets the information from repair shops that buy their troubleshooting service. I would classify this information as truly conflict free. Unfortunately, MSN does not disclose what green, yellow and red mean as a percentage, but it appears to be less sever than CR based on the comparisons I’ve done. On the plus side, MSN Autos does tell you how much a repair should cost at a labor rate of $65/hour. I prefer using both ratings and even JD Power, too. If there is a big difference, it is usually because of what I call CR ratings compression.

J D Powers is in the business of selling data obtained mostly for free but not from me. We got one of their surveys to fill out after buying a new car. I dutifully started on it and then suddenly decided that there is no direct advantage for me to finish it. It was huge; would have taken too much of my time! I told them to send me money for my time if they wanted it finished. I got no reply and did not expect one.

I thought everybody was singing high praise for Jeep, surprised to see them on the bottom.

I like to see reliability rating for 5-10 year old cars with 100K+ miles. A 2009 having trouble is just bad.

Talking to the mechanics I think you get a better idea of what’s reliable and the kind of problems they are seeing rather than these rating exercises. So what if a new car has to go back to the shop a couple times. CR rated the Pontiac G6 as among the worst. I bought one anyway and have put on 80,000 trouble free miles. Its fun to drive, has all the options, no rattles or squeaks, good mpg, etc. I just don’t know what they were thinking. My biggest complaint is there is no trans dip stick and no way to change the fluid yourself.

Remember that JD Power only reports he number of issues per 100 cars and not what the problems were. They all could be inexpensive, or could involve transmission and engine work. You have to use Consumer Reports and MSN Autos to get that differentiation.

JD Power conducts marketing research for industries producing results that are sold for use by these same industries. Different from CR where the results are sold directly to the consumer. If JD produces a result the buying industry doesn’t like, if can be spun for use by the companies. If the consumer doesn’t like results when compared to their purchases, they can stop purchasing the magazine. I ask…who has more to gain by being honest ? It is much easier to spin short term buying reliability surveys, used by JD.

I have never used the JD Power ratings in buying a car. As mentioned, the intial quality is not very useful, and the so-called “long Term” is only 3 years. Almost any car is reasonably good for 3 years nowadays. A Toyota and a Volkswagen would problably do equally well. You can buy the JD Power reorts for about $5000 and up.

CR goes out 8 years, and that’s where the real differences start to show up.

The main motive of JD Power is not to help you and me decide on a car, but to help the manufacturer’s corporate image (advertising) and help sell fleets to taxi companies, government and other large users.

CR does not accept advertising and will not allow any commercial organization to use its findings in advertising.

When I was car shopping in fall of 2010, I read JD Power, Consumer Reports, and E-pinions for vehicle reviews. My head was practically spinning after reading all the reviews on Cars. Funny how my little Versa got mixed reviews as far as reviews go. I bought the Versa anyway and I’ve been pleased with it. The only complaint I have about my car is the seats aren’t very comfortable if you drive for long periods of time. I went through that last summer when I drove my car cross-country. After 8 hours of being behind the wheel, my lower back hurt! My 1999 chevy malibu’s seats were way more comfy but then again my 1999 Malibu quit on me when it hit 125k miles.

Does CR report their findings as well, or do they just lump every bad thing together?

Do they tell us the Mercedes owner gave the car a bad review because MBUSA wouldn’t cover oil changes or brake replacements under warranty? Do they group that in with an owner who complains his meticulously maintained Mercedes’ engine grenaded at 45k miles for no reason?

CR can be inaccurate on many products. I used to sell Appliances and other electronics at Best Buy and I’d get customers coming in with the CR magazines and they’d point out an appliance they saw in CR and it was rated very high and I’d take a look at the model listed and turns out that highly rated appliance had a high repair rate! I’d try to explain that to a customer and it went over like a fart in church. I sometimes think the consumers will rate a product highly because of the manufacturer’s customer service handling skills not the quality of the product itself.