Consumer Complaints About Car Tech Still a Huge Issue: Study

Not everyone is enjoying all those new, high-tech features in modern cars.

Consumer complaints with vehicle software have been growing steadily over the past several years and 2016 is on pace with last year’s record-setting level. According to J.D. Power’s SafetyIQ study, which also sources complaints from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), consumers have filed 202 formal complaints this year, compared to 204 during the same time a year ago. In 2015, a record number of 615 software-related complaints were filed, besting the previous record of 505 set in 2014.

The trend appears to be continuing upward, and in the past five years, a total of 2,011 registered complaints related to automotive software have been filed with NHTSA.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Worst Automakers in Customer Satisfaction for 2016: J.D. Power

SafetyIQ is an online application developed by J.D. Power that integrates data from NHTSA with J.D. Power automotive data so that investigators can connect between the complaints lodged and recall decisions. J.D. Power found that recalls are also on the rise, up 45 percent between 2014 and 2015. To date, 189 separate software recalls have been issued in the past five years, affecting more than 13 million vehicles.


According to the data, Chevrolet, Ram, Mazda, Toyota, GMC and Subaru have the fewest number of software complaints while Smart, Isuzu, Tesla, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover have the most number of complaints.

“Consumer complaints are the canaries in the coal mine for automobile manufacturers when it comes to anticipating future recalls and longer-term customer satisfaction,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power. “Software-related problems have become much more prevalent and, if not addressed, could begin to erode consumer trust in new automotive technology.”