Autos

Cars with the Most Safety Complaints

5. Dodge
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 231.6
> YTD car sales: 344,556
> YTD complaints: 1,437
> Model complaint leader: Grand Caravan

The Dodge model with the most complaints since 2007 was the Grand Caravan, with the most common issue being the interior electronics and hardware. In Oct. 2011, Chrysler Group, the parent company of Dodge, announced it was stopping production of both the Grand Caravan and the Avenger. CEO Sergio Marchionne told Automotive News that Chrysler would release a crossover between the Grand Caravan and Avenger for 2013. Dodge’s market share has dropped in the past year, falling from 5.2% in July 2011 to 3.1% in July 2012. Sales were down 37% between 2007 and 2011.

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4. Jaguar
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 240.5
> YTD car sales: 8,546
> YTD complaints: 15
> Model complaint leader: XF

The Jaguar model with the most complaints was the XF, with 17% of complaints for that car involving the powertrain. Jaguar recalled about 18,000 X-Type cars in Oct. 2011, which included the XF, due to problems with software. The company released a notice to customers, stating that there could be problems disengaging the cruise control. Sales of the XF were down 40.2% between 2008 and 2011.

3. Chrysler
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 292.3
> YTD car sales: 216,616
> YTD complaints: 693
> Model complaint leader: Town & Country

Following the discontinuation of Dodge’s Grand Caravan, the Town & Country will be the sole minivan made by the Chrysler Group. But of the complaints about Chryslers to the NHTSA since the beginning of 2007, no vehicle was more frequently mentioned than the Town & Country. The most common complaint was related to the car’s brakes, with drivers reporting premature wearing of pads. Chrysler’s sales were down by nearly 60% between 2007 and 2011.

2. Jeep
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 386.1
> YTD car sales: 325,945
> YTD complaints: 1,321
> Model complaint leader: Wrangler

Wrangler, which represents roughly 30% of the brand’s total sales, received the most NHTSA complaints since 2007, with the fuel emission and exhaust system as the most common complaint. Jeep’s parent company, Chrysler, announced in May that it was recalling about 87,000 2010 model Wranglers after the NHTSA noted that debris could get trapped in the exhaust system, potentially leading to a fire. Just a month later, Chrysler recalled approximately 347,000 Jeep Libertys due to concerns that the lower control arms in the SUV’s rear suspension can rust and cause the vehicle to crash. According to ConsumerReports.org, Jeep’s overall brand perception dropped between 2011 and 2012, but it was in the bottom 10 in both years.

1. Mini
> Complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold: 410.1
> YTD car sales: 43,632
> YTD complaints: 275
> Model complaint leader: Cooper

The Cooper, which represents more than half of the brand’s total sales, was the most complained about Mini model, with concerns over steering comprising 41% of all Mini complaints. In 2010, the NHTSA opened an investigation into the 2004 and 2005 Cooper models following complaints that power-assisted steering often fails. Then in January of this year, parent-company BMW recalled 235,000 Minis following complaints to the NHTSA of fires due to the overheating of the vehicle’s water pump. According to ConsumerReports.org, the Mini brand was tied with Scion and Ferrari as the worst brands for consumer perception safety.

Michael B. Sauter and Samuel Weigley

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