October 6, 2006

Problems with heavy-duty truck engines increase with emissions standards

Westlake Village, California – Customers are increasingly experiencing problems with heavy-duty truck engines as manufacturers strive to meet government-regulated emissions standards, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Heavy-Duty Truck Engine/Transmission Study.

The study measures customer satisfaction with the engines in two-year-old heavy-duty trucks, by examining engine quality, engine performance, engine cost of ownership and engine warranty. J.D. Power says that manufacturers are continuously redesigning their engines and employing new technologies, such as redirecting exhaust gas back into the engine to burn off more pollutants, but the average number of reported problems has increased to 74 PP110 (engine problems per 100 vehicles), up from 46 PP100 in 2005.

“In the 2005 study, there was a greater mix of manufacturers using old- and new-technology engines, so we’re just now starting to see the overall impact of the emission regulations,” says Brian Etchells, senior research manager in the commercial vehicle group at J.D. Power. “Whenever a new technology is employed, it takes a while to work the bugs out. As time goes on and engines are better equipped and designed to follow the emission standards, the number of problems should gradually decline.”

For the sixth year, a Caterpillar engine ranks highest in the vocational segment (those body types used in rugged job applications, such as dump trucks, concrete mixers, and garbage trucks).

The study found that among the four factors of engine satisfaction, customers are least satisfied with the cost of ownership, particularly in routine engine maintenance costs and fuel efficiency.

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