undependable cars

Lexus came out tops in the J.D Power Vehicle Dependability Study. Image: Lexus.

Undependable cars are seriously uncool. So choose wisely

We have all the winners and losers in the latest J.D. Power Dependability Study. The most undependable cars and brands my just surprise you.

undependable cars

Lexus came out tops in the J.D Power Vehicle Dependability Study. Image: Lexus.

You know who loves undependable cars? Mechanics, of course, who can make a pretty penny off you. But when it comes to owning one, there is nothing worse than the scourge of unreliability.

Whether its new or old, you’ve forked out a massive deposit, you’re paying it off each month – you better hope it gets you from A to B.

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Being stuck on the side of the road with a bum set of wheels is not cool when you’ve only got half an hour to make your meeting. Driving your new dream car fresh off the showroom floor only to find an integral bit of equipment isn’t functional or needs replacing is seriously uncool.

Undependable cars: Where to begin

The Toyota C-HR was one of the top ranked mass market cars. Image: Toyota.

Well, every year the fastidious folks at J.D. Power conduct a Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). This examines the performance of 2020 model-year vehicles as far as quality and component replacement, including new technology.

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The company says this is so less undependable cars reach market, but for buyers its simply helpful purchasing insight. The VDS rating is measured in Problems Per 100 cars (PP100). A lower score means less problems per 100 cars and that indicates a better performance.

Dependability on the whole has improved

Image: J.D. Power.

Overall, the industry average of 186 PP100 is an improvement of 6 versus last year. Interestingly, leading the way with fewer problems are mass market brands with 182 PP100, 8 lower than a year ago. Premium brands are 23 PP100 higher at 205 PP100 which says they are the undependable cars at the moment.

Why are expensive cars letting the side down?

It’s sad. The gap between mass produced and premium is at its widest since the study launched in 1988. But why? Quite simply, the disparity between the two segments comes down to technology. Premium cars come with more tech, which increases complexity and the inherent likelihood of undependable cars.

“It is typical in the automotive industry to roll out concepts and features by putting them in premium vehicles first,”

Frank Hanley, senior director of benchmarking at J.D. Power.

The J.D. Power VDS was redesigned in 2022 to include features and technology that are available in current vehicles. It now covers 184 specific problem areas across: climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls/displays, infotainment, interior, powertrain and seats.

undependable cars
Interior of the Lexus RX. Image: Lexus.

Undependable cars: Winner and losers

Lexus ranks highest overall in vehicle dependability with 133 PP100. Other premium brands available in South Africa are BMW (184 PP100). Kia (152 PP100) ranks highest in the mass market segment for a third consecutive year, with Mitsubishi fourth (167 PP100) and Toyota fifth (168 PP100).

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For individual models, the most VDS awards go to Toyota with six, which includes the Lexus NX, Lexus RX, Toyota C-HR. BMW won for the BMW 4 Series, BMW X2, BMW X5 and MINI Cooper and Kia won with the Optima and Kia Sportage.

Kia-Sportage-GTLine_1 one of the most dependable via Vehicle Dependability Study
Kia Sportage. Image: Kia.

There you have it, the most undependable cars of the year. Do you agree with the findings? Let us know in the comments section below.