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The Sonata and Elantra Driving Down Hyundai Quality Scores

7 MAR 2014
Career Path : Mechanic

Korean car maker Hyundai has done a good job of building a respectable share of the U.S. auto market, But dependability issues with the automaker’s two top sellers could erode the generally good will Hyundai has built up over a decade of participation in the U.S. auto market. It’s Genesis sports sedan is one of the best bang-for-your-buck vehicles on the market, and the Sonata and Elantra are popular models among young professionals and young parents. But with recently reported dependability issues with the Sonata and Elantra, Hyundai might face a decline in its share of the U.S. auto market.

More and more, safety and dependability are primary motivators among buyers of new vehicles in the United States, but with decreased ratings for two of its top sellers, Hyundai has some work to get done.

Dependability Issues Abound

The annual report on automakers’ dependability by J.D. Power and Associates takes into account the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles sold by each automaker. The complaints are tracked for three years for each new car sold during a particular year. Because this is 2014, researchers at J.D. Power and Associates based this year’s ratings on vehicles built and sold in 2011.

The vehicles with the best marks paid the fewest visits to the local automotive technician for anything other than routine maintenance. But for Hyundai, low marks for the Elantra and Sonata could give one of the younger auto manufacturers reason for concern about its reputation in the United States.

Drop From the Top 10

Just three years ago, Hyundai was a top 10 finisher among all auto manufacturers in the annual J.D. Power and Associates dependability study. But this year saw Hyundai tumble far, dropping all the way to 27th among all manufacturers for overall dependability. During the 2011 study, Hyundai posted a respectable 132 problems reported per 100 vehicles sold, which allowed Hyundai to crack the top 10 among all auto manufacturers. But with a dismal reporting of 169 problems per 100 vehicles sold during the 2014 report, it is clear Hyundai officials have slipped regarding quality control and focusing on pleasing customers rather than manufacturing and selling as many units at possible.

A good car is one that needs an automotive service technician the least, but Hyundai owners in recent years likely have made more trips to see their mechanics than owners of most other vehicles built during 2011.

Auto Industry Slips as a Whole

While Hyundai has tumbled regarding dependability ratings, so has the auto industry as a whole. As the industry trends toward smaller, more powerful engines that also get good gas mileage, dependability has decreased with many new parts and engines on the market. For the first time since 1998, overall reliability marks for the auto industry got worse instead of better, Hyundai’s rating dropped for a second straight year with the problems reported with its top-selling cars.

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