Survey: Recalls make Americans less satisfied with cars

AP News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2015 12:37 AM
Survey: Recalls make Americans less satisfied with cars

DETROIT (AP) — Americans are less happy with their cars and trucks than at any time in more than a decade, and it's largely because they're getting sick of dealing with recalls.

The 2015 American Consumer Satisfaction Index, an annual survey that involved 4,300 consumers, found that satisfaction with automobiles dropped for the third straight year to the lowest level since 2004. High new-car prices also were a factor.

"While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems," said Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of the survey.

Last year automakers recalled a record 64 million vehicles for problems such as exploding air bags and ignition switches that can unexpectedly cause engines to stall. The problems can be deadly. So far General Motors has agreed to compensate families of 124 people who died in crashes caused by the faulty switches. Eight more people have died worldwide after being cut by shrapnel from exploding Takata air bag inflators.

Rising prices also contributed to the consumer frustration. Car prices are up 11 percent since 2010 and hit records all year, rising to an average $32,932 in July, according to the Edmunds.com auto website.

The index's automobile satisfaction score this year dropped nearly 4 percent to 79 out of 100. In 2004, the last time the score was that low, the industry set the previous annual record for recalled vehicles at 30.8 million.

Of the 27 brands tracked in the index, 15 saw their satisfaction scores decline, while only Acura and BMW improved.

Foreign-based brands led the survey, with Toyota's Lexus luxury brand on top at 84, followed by Acura, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz, tied at 83. BMW, Subaru, Toyota, Hyundai, Buick and Cadillac rounded out the top 10. Fiat Chrysler's Fiat brand had the lowest satisfaction score at 73.

Here's how the brands ranked in this year's survey and the percent change compared with last year:

Brand 2014 2015 Percent Change
Auto industry average 82 79 -4
Lexus 84 84 0
Acura 77 83 +8
Lincoln NM 83 NA
Mercedes-Benz 86 83 -3
BMW 80 82 +3
Subaru 85 82 -4
Toyota 83 82 -1
Hyundai 81 81 0
Buick 83 80 -4
Cadillac 80 80 0
Honda 83 80 -4
Mazda 80 80 0
Volkswagen 84 80 -5
Chevrolet 82 79 -4
Ford 81 79 -2
Volvo NM 79 NA
Audi 79 78 -1
GMC 82 78 -5
Kia 82 78 -5
Infiniti NM 77 NA
Mitsubishi NM 77 NA
Nissan 81 77 -5
Dodge 78 76 -3
Mini NM 76 NA
All other brands 81 75 -7
Jeep 79 75 -5
Chrysler 81 74 -9
Fiat NM 73 NA

NM=Not Measured

NA=Not Available