People who buy new cars are having more problems in the first 90 days than they ever have before.
In the 2022 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Buick came out on top, but the headline isn’t the winner this year. In general, the number of complaints has gone up. Most brands did worse in 2022 than they did in 2021. This year’s cars had the worst overall quality when they were first bought in the history of the study.
In its 36th year, the study asks people who just bought a new car to report any problems with it in the first 90 days. In the past few years, the numbers had been going down. Last year, the average number of owner complaints for every 100 cars was 162. This number was 166 in 2020.
It was 180 this year.
A one-off because of a bad year, or a sign of what’s to come?
On the one hand, the number might show that 2022 is an outlier. Over the past year, COVID-19 has caused factory shutdowns, supply chain problems, and a global shortage of microchips. To keep the lines moving, automakers have had to add and remove features on the fly.
On the other hand, it could be a sign of a problem in the industry as a whole. Every engineer knows that the more complicated a machine is, the more places it could break. Cars keep getting more complicated.
More people were unhappy with infotainment systems than with any other feature. What is the most common problem? Having trouble connecting to Apple CarPlay or Google Android Auto.
Adding to the complexity argument, buyers of luxury cars with a lot of features reported an average of 196 problems for every 100 cars they bought. People who bought mass-market brands said 175.
Check out how your car compares to others in terms of how much more gas costs.
Most brands slipped
This year, the scores of 25 of the 33 brands that were looked at went down. The quality control team at General Motors GM, +1.35 percent seems to have handled the many crises of 2022 the best. All of its four U.S. brands—Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac—got better grades from 2021. BMW BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and Audi all did better as well.
The report says that every other car company had more problems in 2022 than in 2021.
EVs reported more problems
In the study, gas-powered cars did better than electric cars. On average, there were 240 complaints for every 100 EVs, 239 complaints for every 100 plug-in hybrids, and 175 complaints for every 100 gas-powered cars.
The study didn’t count Tesla TSLA, +1.24 % vehicles, which makes the numbers harder to understand.
Last quarter, 75 percent of the electric vehicles sold in the U.S. were Teslas.
In a few states, automakers have to agree for J.D. Power to use their data. Tesla chose not to participate. J.D. Power put out unofficial numbers based on information from states that don’t need automaker permission, but they didn’t rank the brand because the information was not complete.
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*Tesla did not provide complete data. It received an unofficial score of 226 based on the limited data available.