J.D. Power UK Reliability Study Says BMW And Audi Have Fallen From Grace To Last Place

While Kia and Volvo are tied for the highest ranking in vehicle dependability, the likes of Audi and BMW have hit rock bottom, according to a latest study.

The J.D. Power 2017 UK Vehicle Dependability study measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by owners of vehicles in the UK, after 12-36 months of ownership.

No fewer than 177 problem symptoms across eight categories are examined: vehicle exterior, driving experience, features/controls/displays, audio/communication/entertainment/navigation, seats, heating, ventilation and air-con, vehicle interior, plus engine and transmission.

While 58% of premium car owners who experienced no problems with their vehicle say they “definitely will” purchase or lease the same brand again, only 48% of premium owners experiencing one or more problems want to keep the badge long term.

Furthermore, there’s a steep decline in intended loyalty for volume owners who experience their first problems with the car (from 49% to 40%), with loyalty then decreasing from there as the number of problems increase.

“Minor issues like foggy windows, noisy brakes or navigation systems that are difficult to use can be very frustrating for owners and can negatively affect brand loyalty,” said Mark Lendrich, head of research at J.D. Power Europe. “These design problems aren’t easy to fix at a service appointment and, if the owner has to live with these problems for the duration of time they have the vehicle, they’re less likely to purchase the same brand in the future.”

Among the study’s other key findings is the fact that premium car owners tend to be highly satisfied with how their car looks (exterior styling being a key reason for their purchase). Another key factor for purchasing a car is of course fuel economy, while connectivity issues and problems with voice recognition are both among the six most common problems in the UK.

As for overall brand rankings, Kia and Volvo got the highest scores, with Skoda coming in third, followed by Suzuki and Hyundai. The bottom five are Dacia, Fiat, Land Rover, Audi and BMW – the latter having the worst score in terms of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100).

PHOTO GALLERY

  • FatGood

    All those UK Car Magazines raving on incessantly about how good Audi’s interior quality is…
    Fat lot of good if the thing doesn’t work!

    Got into a Zipcar Audi A3 and… the interior quality was no better than a Fiesta’s….

    • Vassilis

      Really? So the A3’s switchgear, materials etc were the same as the Fiesta’s?

      • shaun34

        No, the same as a Skoda, which is worse considering the price of an Audi.

        • Vassilis

          Which A3 and which Skoda? Looking at the latest models, no Skoda has the same switchgear as an A3. There’s a very clear difference. One thing fast Audis have in common with fast Skodas or VWs or SEATs are the aluminium pedals. The footrest on an R8 for example is identical to that of a Leon Cupra.

  • Toronado_II

    No Lexus ?

    • Tostik

      No one’s ever heard of a Lexus outside of the US. 🙂

      • Toronado_II

        Yeah, you’re right ! As Acura…

        • Tostik

          And Infiniti and even Subaru. All four of these Japanese brands owe their success to the good ole USA. No resentment about Pearl Harbor. 🙂

          • Marty

            The reason that Lexus (and a few other brands on the UK market) doesn’t show up in the list is that the sample size is too small.

            Acura and Infinity are mostly rebranded Honda and Nissan for the American markets, so it’s no surprise you don’t see many of those in the UK. But Subaru and Lexus are not uncommon.

    • MP4-12C

      I think they sell not enough cars to be in this study, same goes for Subaru as well.

  • TheBelltower

    JD needs to delineate between issues that are defects and failures and issues that are simply designs that don’t meet expectations. If someone buys a car and is unhappy with the cup holders or the navigation controls, that’s not a defect. It’s poor design. But not in the same category as being stranded on the side of the road, which is what people think of when they hear the term “reliability study.”

    • Defects are Defects

      You’re correct, but having to live with these issues for the period of ownership is a problem and not worth dealing with in the long haul and every time you drive. I am a bit shocked that Audi fell to the depths it did; BMW not so much. In today’s world there’s not much in the way of excuses that either can use to justify even the smallest of user inconveniences.

      • TheBelltower

        Without knowing some of the data behind the results, we don’t really know why Audi tanked in this study. Personally, I’ve fallen a little bit out of love with newer Audis. Some of the things made them great once, the things that justified that your money was well spent, seem to be lacking today. I’ll save you from my long opinions on what’s wrong with Audi today. But I don’t care what any survey says… I still love BMWs. They are in an entirely different league than most of the brands on the top of the list.

        • Vassilis

          I am interesting in what you think is wrong with modern Audis.

          • TheBelltower

            This is going to get away from the topic. But to answer your question, the current Audi lineup seems to exist to solely to be in compliance with safety standards and to accommodate corporate platforms, and not to provide new and fresh products. So to see fake side vents, fake exhaust tips, and other visual jewelry in the form of elaborate lighting, and digital dashboards is frustrating. It appears to be smoke-and-mirrors to camouflage inherently unoriginal and dowdy designs on everything from an A3 to an A8. Perhaps they are doing everything perfectly right, and Audi is simply attempting to appeal to an audience that isn’t me. I say this as a happy b7 s4 owner who has been eagerly waiting for Audi to offer a replacement.

          • Vassilis

            I love Audis, I understand what you mean but yeah I do think they appeal to a certain kind of audience.

          • TheBelltower

            I love them too. I just assumed that I was going to get another one. But I’m just taking a break for now.

          • Vassilis

            Well, good thing the B7 is pretty great! I must say though, the B9 S4 should also be good.

      • Christian Wimmer

        The reality of these surveys is that it is mostly one or a small handful of models which are problematic. I would assume in this case that perhaps the new BMW 7er, loaded with technology, has some issues which bring down the BMW brand as a whole. In contrast those 1er, 2er, 3er, 5er and their SUVs may actually be pretty reliable and satisfying to own.

        Personally I don’t pay attention to these “surveys”. My 2007 BMW still works and runs great despite daily abuse on the Autobahn and high mileage. According to the ICEs (Internet Car Experts) my BMW was supposed to die and fail 3-years after I bought it. 😀

    • KSegg

      This. Just because something wasn’t designed to their liking that has nothing to do with how reliable/dependable it is.

      • Miknik

        But then again this is not about reliability but about satisfaction (the title indicates it wrongly, JD was always a satisfactory study). So bad usability/design does matter. And it is interesting how reviewers always rave on how well German premiums are in terms of ergonomics/controls, yet customers don’t seem to share that experience.

        • KSegg

          I get that, and in many ways I agree with you.

          But I also know there are two types of people.

          1.) The type who likes to learn about all the new tech and features of a new premium car and learn how to properly use all the tech/toys/gadgets via reading the owners manual, going on forums to get more information, etc. In short, making an effort to properly understand how to use the tech that’s in luxury cars, especially in new German luxury cars, which are packed full of tech.

          I’m in that camp.

          2.) The type who buys a new premium luxury car thinking “it’s a car how hard can it be” and starts trial by error-ing all the new controls without understanding how it’s supposed to work, then complaining about it when it’s “too complicated” for them to figure out, or they hate it because they’re “not used to it”.

          This is why I suspect Kia’s and Toyota’s are always at the top of JD Power Survey’s. They’re just simple cars with simple controls. Nothing to complain about.

          • supermanuel

            I think there are more than 2 types of people.

    • Keita Darkwolf

      Agreed. Linked to this would be expectations of the brand itself. I find it hard to believe that Citroen and Peugeot could have such wildly different scores while effectively being exactly the same vehicle. The same would apply to VW/SEAT/Skoda/Audi. With all the commonality of parts and platforms, it’s very difficult to believe they’d have such huge differences in reliability. But because people pay more for the VW, perhaps they expect it to be more reliable, and therefore a problem that might be overlooked in one brand would not be in another. This is why I never put much faith in there surveys. The biasses involved are just too huge to ignore.

      • TheBelltower

        Yes. Years ago when I was researching Audis, they ranked very low compared to comparable domestic and Japanese cars I was considering. Turns out, when you looked at the complaints, the issues had to do with the cup holders (which are truly rotten, over designed things) and excessive brake dust. The car itself has been bulletproof.

    • Dennis James

      How does “car suddenly stopping while on highway” sound ? Is it bad enough for you ? This happened to almost all BMW 335i cars and led to a massive recall in 2011 for fuel pump replacement.

      Another example: almost all BMW 335i water pumps fail at around 60000 miles, and they are electrical, meaning the failure is sudden and there is nothing you can do but call a towing truck.

      How do I know this ? I own one.

      • TheBelltower

        I don’t believe this is a study on 2011 vehicles. Or cars that have accumulated 60,000 miles. But yeah, that does suck.

      • alexxx

        Well…nobody can beat you with those arguments 😁😂

      • Christian Wimmer

        That was truly an annoying issue with the 335i. Did BMW ever correct it? The car world was filled with news about this daily, and then suddenly it disappeared.

        • KidRed

          Yes, they extended the warranty to 120k miles and the waterpump is no longer an issue on the newer 3 series. The poster is complaining about an issue, covered under warranty, from 7 years ago.

          • Christian Wimmer

            Thanks!

            At the time I certainly liked the performance of the 335i (and 335d), but what would have kept me away was the fact that it’s turbocharged. I prefer naturally aspirated gasoline engines.

      • KidRed

        I owned a 2010 335i and had no issues up to 95k miles when I traded it in.

    • alexxx

      Spot on….

    • brn

      As much as I enjoy the idea of BMW and Audi getting tromped on in such a study, I completely agree. The JD Powers “study” is particularly unreasonable. No one should base a purchase decision on the JD Power reliability study.

    • KidRed

      Agree. This should be a “initial satisfaction” survey.

    • supermanuel

      It’s a ‘dependability’ study rather than a reliability study. The ‘author’ uses the word reliability incorrectly in the title of the article. Yet more sh1t writing from the CS team.

      Having said that, the use of the word ‘dependability’ is disingenuous and misleading as it implies reliability in this context.

  • ErnieB

    Happy to see Volvo at #2!

    • Tostik

      Actually Volvo tied with Kia for #1. 🙂

      • ErnieB

        Ah.. yes!

    • brn

      As others have indicated, the study is more about expectations than reliability. If the expectations are low, you’ll do better in the study.

      • Tostik

        Conversely, if you bought a car mostly because of it’s reliability reputation, and you were vested in the idea that you have the most reliable brand, you might conveniently over look a few problems in your reliability survey, especially if you love the car for other reasons. Happened to Tesla. They suddenly sank like a rock in the reliability surveys because a lot of the owners got tired of making allowances for love of the brand. And Volvo does poorly on equivalent JD Powers surveys in the US, but they do fantastic in the UK and Germany. Go figure.

  • Six_Tymes

    not surprised with these results

  • KSegg

    So the UK just complains more? Survey’s like JD Powers is subjective at best.

    Their US report rates BMW at the top of the chart.

    http://www.jdpower.com/ratings/study/Vehicle-Dependability-Study-%28VDS%29-by-Make/1881ENG

  • fabri99

    I really don’t understand why car makers in the same group are so far away from each other in this list. I’d expect all VW Group brands to be very close together, yet they’re not. Why is that? Is it a problem with how this list is compiled?

    • Obsequious Lickspittle

      Customer expectation?
      Skoda owners less likely to report minor issues?

      • fabri99

        Makes sense.

  • Obsequious Lickspittle

    I guess Subaru aren’t there as they simply don’t sell enough to give a representative sample size.

  • Robert

    So the next time I hear someone say “I would never by an unreliable POS Kia for $30k, I’d save my money for BMW or Audi!” I will first deliver a punch to the face and then show them this study.

  • kachuks

    Who makes a reliability survey that measures which cars leave you stranded on the side of the road and which don’t?

    That’s the only reliability survey I care about.

  • SteersUright

    Fallen?? BMW and Audi have been horrid with regards to reliability and long-term quality forever! They both have interiors that peel after just a couple years and a host of engine and electronic problems almost as soon as they leave the showroom. They’re an utter gamble to hold on to after their warranty expires and so are not and never have been, smart, long-term purchases. They’re fast, good handling, good looking, cheap-quality cars for those who jump from lease to lease. When their warranty expires, their value nosedives off a cliff because most people do not want to take on the gamble of German reliability with an aging, out of warranty, German car.

    • Christian Wimmer

      Fact is more people have great experiences with their Audis and BMWs than bad experiences.

      None of the high mileage German cars in my family are unreliable or money pits. My 2007 BMW works flawlessly, yet I abuse it daily by maxing it out on the Autobahn.

      I think this “poor German reliability with aging” stuff is a myth – a myth created by people who buy a German car, cheapen out on maintenance and then cry when something goes wrong due to the lack of having been properly serviced. A lot of indepdent mechanics can’t work on newer cars – don’t bring your car to them, they will screw up your car and they will screw you. This is where I feel this myth comes from that German cars are unreliable in the long term.

      Brands like Toyota or Lexus also have issues with age, that’s normal for stuff to wear out. But I feel these issues are conveniently overlooked because prices for spare parts tend to be cheaper at these brands. Just my two cents.

      • SteersUright

        Myth you say because of your anecdotal experience with you single, 2007, BMW? Despite JD Power rankings, hoards of reliability data collected over many years demonstrating that the Japanese consistently lead, and other metrics, your 2007 BMW proves they are indeed reliable? Thats fine, and I’m happy you get to enjoy yours. My friend’s 2013 X5 that was bought new, dealer maintained, and despite that ended up with a leaky injector (a well known BMW turbo I6 issue) thus leading to oil contamination and now a $10k+ bill for a new engine, should I tell him about your 2007? Or my other friends 2014 X5 that needed a new ECU at 3 months old? Or my other friends 6mo old 328i that needed new window regulators and a HPFP? Or my own 2010 CPO 335i M Sport that needed 5 new intakes (a connecting piece would repeatedly break under full acceleration), 1 window regulator, a new ECU, a new HPFP, several new coil packs, and lets not forget about the seat belt extenders that stopped working but were considered a “wear & tear” item and not covered under CPO. Or my friends 2015 Gti that needed a new water pump at 6mo. Or my mom’s two VW Tiguan’s that: 1. shut down on the highway for not reason, total loss of steering power assist, etc. 2. suddenly all lighting stopped working 3….
        Are you seeing a pattern here with German cars? My friends and I have had many and will continue to buy them. Why? Because they’re awesome. They’re fast, they handle well, they look great inside and out, and we enjoy them. Are they more reliable than the Japanese? Yeah, sure, according to your 2007, which utterly confirm this, despite going against all other collected reliability date. And Ronald McDonald is the actual founder of McDonalds, and there really is a pot of gold at the end of rainbows, and Santa is real cuz I got a present on Christmas………..

  • Christian Wimmer

    “Foggy windows” is a reliability/quality issue? *Facepalm*

    I get foggy windows in my BMW when it’s cold outside and hot inside my car. Just turn up the A/C, put it on maximum coolness and set the vent mode to up; problem solved.

    How is that a reliability/quality issue? Oh yeah, when the owner can’t figure out how to solve the problem…

  • smartacus

    all the usual names at the bottom: Citroen, FIAT, DACIA, LAND ROVER, AUDI, BMW

    • KidRed

      Audi and BMW are not usually at the bottom.

      • SteersUright

        They sure are if you’ve actually owned them. I love both and am sure some owners luck out here and there. But they never were, and never will be (apparently) on par with the Japanese with regards to reliability. Now, if we’re talking excitement, cutting edge tech, beautiful design…a WHOLE other story.

  • supermanuel

    This is a satisfaction survey, not a reliability survey and the use of the word ‘dependability’ is disingenuous.

    Having said that, I am currently leasing a Kia and a BMW. I took delivery of both within 3 months of each other. my own personal satisfaction survey corresponds with the JD survey. We love the Kia and pretty much hate the BMW. It’s not that the Beemer is unreliable in any way (so far at least) but that it annoys us on a regular basis. The sat nav system is not, as so many people suggest, the best on the market. It is cr4p, in fact. I hate it. I hate the entire infotainment system. It’s cr4p.

    Lots of other little things add up to complete dissatisfaction from us on our first Beemer for 15 years. The things that annoy us are not things that present themselves in the showroom or on test drives, but only after a few weeks/months of driving.

    The Kia, on the other hand, is a revelation, a joy.

  • Eki Rasche

    I have BMW 316D, 2013 (F30) and I had no issues with it apart the fact that it´s slow, but again 116 Hp is what it is.

  • Methusaleh

    In my view more a measure of the IQs and attention spans of owners. BMWs are a bit complex. A new driver who doesn’t know how to use his or her car’s various electronics is going to have “problems.” But the car will be just fine.

    J.D. Power is known in the States for giving out participation trophies in its numerous surveys where every manufacturer can win something. So I wouldn’t take this poll seriously. I don’t take anything the company does seriously.

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