WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA-For a 14th consecutive year, Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability, improving by 25 problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles since 2007 to achieve a score of 120 PP100, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study. Following in the top five rankings are Mercury, Cadillac, Toyota and Acura, respectively.

Deterioration in vehicle quality during the first three years of ownership-determined by comparing long-term dependability rates to initial quality problem rates-strongly affects overall customer satisfaction as well as customer willingness to recommend a vehicle model, the study finds. The study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old (2005 model year) vehicles, finds that, on average, customers report experiencing 75% more problems in the third year of ownership than during the first 90 days.

The study also finds that five of the top 10 problems reported industry-wide also were among the top 10 most frequently reported problems in the 2005 Initial Quality Study, suggesting that the problems are identified by owners during the initial ownership period, but have not been rectified by automakers during the three-year ownership period.

The problems include:
  • Excessive wind noise
  • Noisy brakes
  • Vehicle pulling to the left or right
  • Issues with the instrument panel/dashboard
  • Excessive window fogging
“Understanding and minimizing quality deterioration is critical for manufacturers, as it is a key driver of owner satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations,” says David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “It is imperative that manufacturers design models that not only achieve high levels of initial quality but also attain high levels of longer-term dependability.”