Westlake Village, California – While relatively few new-vehicle owners report problems with their vehicle seats, those who do complain most often about headrest adjustment controls, according to a study of seat quality and satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates.
Only 6.2 per cent of new-vehicle owners reported problems with their seats, but issues with the headrests, specifically adjustment controls that are difficult to understand or use, remain the most frequently-cited seat-related problems for a third consecutive year.
The complaints became more prevalent shortly after a new head restraint standard set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) went into effect in September 2008. The standard, developed to reduce whiplash injuries in rear collisions, established a higher minimum height requirement for the front seats and a limit to the distance between the occupant’s head and the restraint.
“For the past three years, new-vehicle owners have had more problems with the headrest adjustment controls than with any other part of the seat,” said Allan Dix, research director of automotive product quality at J.D. Power and Associates. “Customers are having problems getting the headrest adjusted or setting it to a comfortable position, likely because they still are not used to the larger, forward-leaning angle of the headrests required under the new NHTSA standard.”
Compared with other components in new vehicles, seats have the lowest rate of customer-related problems. However, satisfaction with the seats is among the lowest of all vehicle component areas. Additional seat features have a positive impact on satisfaction, with the most satisfying features being leather upholstery, memory settings, heating and cooling options, and power lumbar adjustment. The study found that approximately 70 per cent of owners would like such features as power-adjustable passenger seats, power lumbar adjustment or heated seats in their next vehicle.
Avanzar Interior Technologies, a joint venture of Johnson Controls and SAT Auto Technologies, ranked highest in seat quality for a second consecutive year. The company supplies seats exclusively for the Toyota Tundra.