December 10, 2004

Poor lumbar support biggest complaint with seats

Westlake Village, California – Poor or uncomfortable lumbar support accounts for 35 percent of all automotive seat-related problems, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 Seat Quality Report released this week.

Lumbar support has been the most frequently reported seat problem in the study for the past seven years and ranks within the top 10 most problematic areas from a total vehicle perspective. Consumers report 2.5 lumbar support problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2004, down from 3.6 PP100 in 1998. Following lumbar support in frequency are problems for forward and backward adjustment (1.0 PP100) and seat squeaks or rattles (0.9 PP100).

“We’ve seen consistent improvement in seat quality over the past several years, but seat-related problems still remain among the most frequently cited vehicle quality problems,” said Carolyn McBeth, director of automotive components research at J.D. Power and Associates. “There is a strong correlation between seat-related problems and customer satisfaction with the overall vehicle. Consumers who experience problems with vehicle seats report much lower satisfaction with their vehicle than do consumers who do not have any problems with vehicle seats.”

Six percent of owners report problems with their vehicle seats in the first three months of ownership. Among those reporting a seat problem, 5 percent report only one problem, while 1 percent report three or more seat problems.

Among seat suppliers included in the study, Trim Masters, Inc. ranks highest in overall automotive seat quality for the second consecutive year. Trim Masters, a joint venture between Araco Corporation and Johnson Controls, Inc., has a seat quality score of 3.6 PP100. Trim Master supplies seats for the Toyota Avalon, Toyota Camry Sedan (both models are built at the Georgetown, Kentucky, plant, assembly line one) and Lexus RX 330 (built at the Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, plant).

The 2004 Seat Quality Report provides seat and seat belt manufacturers with information related to the seating systems during the initial portion of the ownership cycle. The study, which is based on responses from 102,951 owners of new 2004 and early-release 2005 model-year cars and light trucks sold in the United States, provides product quality and design satisfaction information and examines the drivers of consumer satisfaction with vehicle seating systems.

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