Car owners report more problems with their vehicles for a second straight year

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For the second straight year, owners of vehicles at least 3 years old are reporting more problems with their cars, trucks and SUVs.

Their biggest complaint? In-vehicle connectivity and voice recognition systems misinterpreting their commands.

J.D. Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study found a slight increase in the number of problems reported by more than 35,000 owners of 2014 models surveyed about their vehicles after three years of ownership. They reported an average 156 problems per 100 vehicles, up from 152 last year.

Issues with connectivity were drivers’ biggest pain point for the third straight year, speaking to the growing complexity of the technology being built into vehicles. Consumers who are used to the consistently high performance of their phones and tablets are often left wondering why their car fails to regularly connect.

The survey also found a 44 percent spike in the number of consumers reporting battery failures during the first three years of ownership.

But it wasn’t all bad news. The 10 best-selling 2014 models were reported to have far fewer problems than the industry average, including the Ford F-150 and the Toyota Camry. Those vehicles were the best-selling truck and car, respectively, in 2014.

“The good news is that consumers don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a very dependable vehicle,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power.

Still, the most dependable cars come at a higher price.

Owners of 2014 Lexus and Porsche models reported the fewest problems among the 31 brands ranked, according to J.D. Power. Drivers of these cars reported 110 problems per 100 vehicles, well below the industry average of 156 problems. This is the sixth straight year Lexus has been ranked as the most dependable brand by J.D. Power.

The other brands rounding out the top five were Toyota, Buick andMercedes-Benz.

By comparison, J.D. Power said Fiat owners reported the most issues with their 2014 models, citing almost three times as many problems as the most dependable vehicles.

“The company values all feedback from our customers and third-party evaluators, including J.D. Power, as it helps guide our product improvements,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement.

The automaker noted that several of its other brands have performed well in J.D. Power surveys, including Ram, Dodge and Jeep.

“In J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study — their most recent initial quality study — Chrysler and Jeep were the most improved brands in the study, with each improving their initial quality scores by 20 percent from 2015,” the statement said.

The J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study is one of the most widely followed reports in the auto industry, primarily because it includes comments from so many vehicle owners about what they are experiencing with their vehicles day in and day out.

“We find buyers are increasingly avoiding models with poor reputations for dependability, so manufacturers can’t afford to let quality slip, particularly on their best-sellers,” Sargent said.

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