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General Motors vehicles have fewest problems in first 90 days

This year's vehicle Initial Quality Survey by the business tracking firm J.D Power and Associates is a bit of a stunner.

The survey asks people how many problems they had with their car in the first 90 days of ownership.

The top auto company was GM. 

The company's GMC brand was second only to Porsche.  That's the first time GMC has ranked anywhere near that high in the history of the survey.   Chevy was fifth, also a dramatic rise in the rankings.

Dave Sargent is vice president of global automotive.

"GM has a better score in this study than any other corporation," Sargent said at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.  "Better than Toyota - better than Honda - better than Daimler. I think that's pretty impressive frankly."

But Sargent suggested GM might have a harder time staying in the top ranking.  He says the very high initial quality of the automaker's trucks was key in this year's survey.

But, while GM is really good at fixing problems in the final year of a vehicle's life cycle, Sargent notes the Detroit automaker is launching new versions of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks later this year.

J.D. Power changed some things in its survey this year.  No longer will people be asked if they had a problem with their car's cassette player, for example. 

Now, they're asked if they experienced a problem with things like lane departure warnings, and other new technologies that will become more and more common in cars of the future.

Sargent notes the kinds of problems people report in the survey are very different than in the past.

People are reporting very few mechanical problems.  Most automakers have drummed out serious engine and transmission defects from their cars.

Most  of what people complain about in the survey these days is technology interfaces not working properly, like navigation systems or voice commands.

Problems with the quality of the interior is another common gripe.

You can read the full report and look up the performance of specific brands here.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.