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Either New Cars Are Getting Less Reliable Or Olds Are Just Cranky

Illustration for article titled Either New Cars Are Getting Less Reliable Or Olds Are Just Cranky

Increased complexity always frightens car enthusiasts, thinking at the newest crop of tech-heavy cars may be much less dependable in the long-term than their predecessors. A new JD Power survey might justify that fear.

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JD Power & Associates released their newest reliability survey last Wednesday and owners of three-year-old cars (that means model year 2011) are reporting 6% more problems than in last year's survey. CNN reports that this is the first time in 15 years that 'dependability' got worse compared with the year before. The study has been running for 25 years.

What kinds of problems? Well, they're mostly engine and transmission issues, the New York Times reports, but JD Power's own explanation int heir press release (read it right here) makes things a bit more confusing.

We're seeing additional problems reported with the engine hesitates, the automatic transmission shifts roughly, and the engine lacks power.

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It's not clear if these are issues with the quality of how these cars are built and how they hold up, or if these are just issues with how cars are made these days, with smaller engines aiming for good mpg over smoothness or power.

JD Power saw more problems with new tech like hands-free phone systems and GPS. It's not clear, though, if these are things like frozen screens or other real reliability issues, or if we're just dealing with people hating the maddeningly complex, slow GPS and hands-free systems that are the norm in pretty much ever newish car today. Even I, a young person who halfway grew up on the Internet, remember when I gave up completely on trying to use the GPS in a model year 2012 Jaguar after it failed to find New York City from New Jersey.

Still, only half as many people reported tech problems than engine and transmission problems.

Either way, it's still unclear if the increase in problems in this JD Power survey means a decrease in durability, reliability, and quality, or if it means that people are having a hard time adjusting to counter-intuitive, high-mileage, high tech cars of today.

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Maybe we're looking at less reliable cars or we're looking at a bunch of cranky old people missing when their V8s were smooth and their radio only had two buttons.

You can see the whole survey for yourself right here, and feel free to share any stories of your new car ownership below.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

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DISCUSSION

It's not clear if these are issues with the quality of how these cars are built and how they hold up, or if these are just issues with how cars are made these days, with smaller engines aiming for good mpg over smoothness or power.

I think this has everything to do with the ECU.

Everything is now fly by wire, which inputs your foot position to the ECU, which then opens the throttle blade to that* position.

*Except it does not open the throttle blade to where you tell it. Depending on what gear, IAT, ECT, knock, RPM, and various other factors, your ECU will decide just how much of the requested throttle percentage you actually get. Most of the time, when your foot is in the floor, you might get 95% throttle at most, closer to 90% most of the time.

As per the transmissions, they are getting more and more complex due to emissions standards and societies demands for absurd amounts of HP /TQ.

My manual transmission shifts just as smoothly as I tell it to EVERY TIME!