Westlake Village, California – Deterioration in vehicle quality during the first three years of ownership strongly affects overall customer satisfaction, as well as the customer’s willingness to recommend the vehicle model, according to a new study released by J.D. Power and Associates. Vehicle quality is determined by comparing long-term dependability rates to initial quality problem rates.

The study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of 3-year-old (2005 model year) vehicles, found that on average, customers report experiencing 75 per cent more problems in the third year of ownership than during the first 90 days. Those models with the largest increase in problem levels showed the most pronounced declines in satisfaction and the likelihood of owners to recommend their vehicle models.

“Understanding and minimizing quality deterioration is critical for manufacturers, as it is a key driver of owner satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations,” said David Sargent, vice-president of automotive research for J.D. Power and Associates. “It is imperative that manufacturers design models that not only achieve high levels of initial quality, but also attain high levels of longer-term dependability. Vehicle models that stand the test of time will help automaker profitability through superior owner satisfaction and recommendation rates.”

The study also found that five of the top 10 problems reported industry-wide in this study were also among the top 10 most frequently reported problems in the 2005 Initial Quality Study, suggesting that the problems have not been rectified by automakers during the three-year ownership period. They include excessive wind noise, noisy brakes, vehicle pulling to the left or right, issues with the instrument panel or dashboard, and excessive window fogging.

Connect with Autos.ca