Car Reliability..per JD Powers

Buick and Jaguar are tied, above Lexus and Toyota.

I’m going to once again reiterate that these share platforms and often come from the same assembly line. How the hell are the problems per 100 cars so different? Oh yes, this is also from when people brought their cars 2 (the standard USED to be 3) years ago.

Well, first, we have to define what a problem is. JD Powers actually doesn’t specify it as something that needs to be taken to a dealer. So, for all we know it could be (like on my Mustang) a piece of trim around a speaker falling off because it wasn’t put in all the way. Or in the case of one of my mom’s cars, the entire electrical system going out, at night, while on the highway (and yes, it was a Dodge).

Mazda, Isuzu, Land Rover, VW and Suzuki are the last 5, in that order. Mazda’s, I’ve thought, are pretty reliable, everything else there except Isuzu, I knew was that bad.

But, back to my other point, Lexus has a ranking of 126/100 (126 problems per 100 vehicles), Toyota has one of 129/100. Once again, same cars with a couple exceptions. Scion has a ranking of 222/100. Never mind the fact that these are rebranded Toyota cars from other parts of the world, except the xD which is the stable mate of the Toyota Yaris. And the xB, which is of Echo/Yaris origins.

Now, Buick has a ranking of 122/100, Pontiac has a ranking of 220/100, Chevy has one of 185/100, GMC is 174/100 and Saturn is 211/100. Buick has the LaCrosse (a.k.a. Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevy Impala and Monte Carlo), the Lucerne (a.k.a. Pontiac Bonneville/LeSabre), the Enclave (Chevy Traverse,  Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia), the Rainier (Chevy TrailBlazer and SSR, and GMC Envoy) and lastly, the Buick Rendezvous and Terraza (Chevy Uplander, Saturn Relay, Pontiac Montana SV6 and of course the other Buick). These are all cars that were made within this time period.

What gives? It gets even worse when you see that the Suzuki Aerio and Chevy Aveo are 2 of the top 3 cars in the sub-compact range, with the winner being a Scion (one of the imported ones actually).

But, some things actually make sense, like 2 cars from NUMMI in 2nd and 3rd place. Again though we run into a problem, the new Miata places first in one category with the Solstice in 3rd.

I think quite a bit of it has to do with preconceived notions. Buicks are purchased by old people, and Buick has always had a fairly good reputation so, if it has a good rep it’s really not a problem when something happens. Uneven tire wear? Maybe it’s just how I’m driving. This could be the same reason that Toyota and Lexus do as well as they do. The same reason that Scion does so horribly, people have no idea what to make of it.

  1. #1 by Chadwick on March 20, 2009 - 12:12 PM

    This reminds me of the Consumer Reports numbers. I know you always complain about those too, but they aren’t really any worse than this. But they actually had a neat little feature in the most recent car issue, where they measured “Bang for your buck” and had a column listing the number of bucks (USD$) per bang (rating by Consumer Reports on a 0-100 scale). I forget, but I think it might have included 5-year projected owner costs, as well. Not sure. I’ll see if I can find it and get some numbers.

    Also, Mazda’s one of the worst? How? Like the only vaguely unreliable vehicles I’ve seen from them are the RX-8 and kind of the Mazda6. I mean, my Mazda3i, I had to get the manifold pressure sensor replaced, and I had a flat tire. Oh, and a small corner of carpet has come untucked from under the plastic frame around the door. I mean, is this 3 problems? 1 problem? I really would like to see what their methodology was.

    Isuzu, Land Rover, VW and Suzuki being the worst is totally expected, though.

    • #2 by Phillip on March 20, 2009 - 3:48 PM

      Ohh, total cost of ownership. Edumunds has something similar.

      But see, that’s what I mean. They don’t exactly define what a problem is, just like CR. Honestly though, when I check for reliability I read reviews and visit a coupe sites. Oh, one other thing I don’t like about CR is that they do projected reliability ratings, on completely new models, with completely new platforms and powertrains. And they use the old model as a base. For instance, the Toyota Tundra wasn’t anything spectacular a generation ago. It was blah and worked. Now, they have snapping camshafts. But CR used the old rating in predicting the reliability.

      I will note though that the ones with less problems GENERALLY are the more upmarket brands. Hyundai is near the top and Kia is near the bottom. Which would make sense since they’re trying to move upmarket. Yet they again share the same platforms and assembly lines.

      It all boils down to 1.22 problems per car or 2.63, one end of the extreme to the other.

      I know when I took the Mustang in, it had a couple first year problems. A fuel tank that wouldn’t fill up, a suspension that “popped” (the springs would suddenly expand), the speaker grill that would come off. The MP3 player that would freeze (and then the new one wouldn’t light up at night because they didn’t program it right). Three of these don’t have a damned thing to do with reliability yet they’re all problems. Which reminds me, I have to figure out how to replace the damned cabin air filter in there.

      • #3 by Chadwick on March 20, 2009 - 4:20 PM

        Well it’s not exactly upscale/downscale. Well, it tends to be with the Asian ones. But like the Ford/Mercury/Lincoln line, and Chevy/Buick/Cadillac? It’s the middle one that’s the best. It has top of the line, most reliable equipment from the proven stuff. The high-end models tend to get the fancy new (read: untested) electronics and stuff, causing more problems.

        • #4 by Phillip on March 20, 2009 - 4:38 PM

          You know, I would believe that, but Buick scored higher than either Chevy or Cadillac and Cadillac scored higher than Chevy. If it’s simplicity that does it I mean.

          Or the case of Hyundai being so much higher than Kia. I’m sure that it accounts for some of the difference but not all of it.

          • #5 by Chadwick on March 20, 2009 - 5:45 PM

            ‘Cause Hyundai and Kia are the same company, right? Or am I confused?

  2. #6 by Phillip on March 21, 2009 - 11:34 AM

    It actually won’t let me reply to you, but yeah, Kia and Hyundai are the same cars. Though, I will admit that they do a better job of badge engineering.

    Accent = Rio
    Azera = Sonata and Optima
    Sonata = Santa Fe, Optima, Azera and Rondo
    Tiburon = Elentra, Tucson, Spectra and Sportage
    Entourage = Sedona
    Santa Fe = Everything with Sonata + Veracruz
    Tucson = Sportage
    Veracruz = Santa Fe and all those others

    Actually, looking at that list, they obviously do a great job with creating adaptable platforms.

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