Bad News: Auto Reliability is Down

USA Today‘s long-time auto reporter calls it “stunning news,” and that’s not much of an exaggeration. For the first time in 16 years, vehicles are becoming less reliable. The biggest problems seem to stem from small 4-cylinder engines (which help with fuel economy) and transmissions (a big-ticket repair item).

Here’s the story from reporter James Healey:

 J.D. Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study showing the most reliable 3-year-old vehicles — a key study for finding a good used car — was released today, and the most stunning news is that the reliability of late-model used cars is down for the first time since 1998.

The widely watched report card says owners of 3-year-old vehicles (2011 models) reported 6% more troubles than owners of 3-year-old vehicles (2010 models) did last year — 133 problems per 100 2011 vehicles ,vs. 126 for 2010s in last year’s survey. Power says that reverses steadily improving industry scores since the 1998 study.

Vehicle owners having problems with a possible “lemon” can get dispute resolution help from BBB AUTO LINE. For a list of manufacturers that participate in BBB AUTO LINE or to file a claim, go to

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.