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Will car tech ding dependability?

J.D. Power detailed its auto dependability rankings and found that quality continues to improve. However, there's one key caveat: The rate of dependability improvement is slowing due to technology problems.
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Written by Larry Dignan on

J.D. Power on Thursday detailed its auto dependability rankings and found that quality continues to improve. However, there's one key caveat: The rate of dependability improvement is slowing due to technology problems.

The research firm's 2011 vehicle dependability study is based on a survey from 43,700 original owners of 2008 models after three years of ownership.

According to J.D. Power, overall dependability averages 151 problems per 100 vehicles, that's the lowest rate since the survey started in 1990. In 2009, there were 170 problems per 100 vehicles. Between 2009 and 2011, the industry improvement averaged 6 percent compared to the 8 percent average gain over the last decade.

Why the slowdown? J.D. Power noted that the improvement slowdown "is largely attributable to increased rates of problems with electronic features in vehicles, including audio, entertainment and navigation systems and new safety features, such as tire pressure monitoring systems."

In a statement, David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power, said:

Automakers, as a whole, have made significant improvements in reducing traditional problems, particularly with vehicle interiors; engines and transmissions; and steering and braking during the past several years. However, as manufacturers add new features and technologies to satisfy customer demand and new legislation, they face the potential for introducing new problems.

The upshot: Automakers are adding more technologies to cars to bolster the in-cabin experience and that means glitches are likely to ding dependability ratings going forward.

As for the car rankings, Lincoln, Lexus, Jaguar, Porsche and Toyota were the top six for dependability. Land Rover, Jeep and Mini were the bottom three.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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