10 Most Complained About Vehicles

Last year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received nearly 30,000 consumer complaints, ranging from braking systems and power windows, to power trains and door locks.

Consumer complaints typically translate into lower levels of customer loyalty.  Less than one third of consumers who bought the five most-complained about vehicles on the list were repeat buyers of the same brand.

247wallst.com recently compiled a Top-10 list of the most-complained about models which runs the spectrum from relatively inexpensive small cars to pricey luxury models. The Top 10 list was compiled using 2012 sales figures and NHTSA complaints as reported by Edmunds.com and included vehicles sold between 2005 and 2012. Brands that are no longer sold in the U.S., including Mercury, Saturn and Hummer, were excluded from the list.

Coming in at #10 on the list of most-complained about brands, with 27.96 complaints per 100,000 units sold, was Hyundai.  In 2012, Hyundai sold approximately 700,000 units in 2012 and received more than 1,000 complaints; mostly relating to power train, electronics, air bag and seat belt problems. The Sonata received the most complaints of any model in 2012.

Ford was the 9th most complained about brand, receiving nearly 5,000 complaints in 2012. Approximately 60 percent of NHTSA complaints involved power train issues. Despite the high number of complaints, however, Ford enjoys a high level of customer loyalty.  On average, customers hold on to their Fords 6.4 years before trading them in on new vehicles.  The Escape compact SUV was the most-complained about Ford model.

Volkswagen received 34.52 complaints per 100,000 units sold in 2012, with the Jetta receiving the highest number of complaints. During the first three months of this year, the NHTSA received 117 complaints about Volkswagen vehicles. Fifty-nine percent of those complaints involved power train problems.

BMW came in at #7 on the list, with a total of 676 complaints in 2012, and it looks as if the automaker may not fare any better this year. BMW owners filed 183 complaints during the first quarter alone. The 3 Series sedan was the model with the most complaints in 2012.

Coming in at #6 on the list was Nissan, with 38.89 complaints per 100,000 units sold between 2005 and 2012. Nissan also has the dubious distinction of having a lower customer loyalty than any other major brand, with only 42 percent.

Chrysler Group LLC’s Dodge brand received 2,300 complaints in 2012, making it the 5th most complained about brand on the list. The Grand Caravan received the most complaints. Despite the high number of complaints, however, Dodge is on track to sell more vehicles this year than it did in 2012.

The NHTSA received 1,166 complaints about Chrysler vehicles in 2012. The Chrysler Town and Country minivan was the most complained about model with the majority of complaints relating to interior electronics and hardware problems.

With only 25 complaints filed in 2012, Smart was the third most-complained about brand on the list because of the low number of vehicles sold (44,000) between 2008 and last year.  Smart also has an extremely low level of customer loyalty and the average trade-in age of Smart cars is just over three years – the lowest of any brand in the U.S.

Chrysler Group LLC’s Jeep brand received upwards of 2,000 complaints in 2012. Unlike many other brands which tended to receive disproportionately high numbers of complaints relating to just a couple of components or systems, Jeep owners reported a wide variety of problems with power trains, axles, fuel systems, exhaust systems, interior electronics, and suspensions. The Jeep Wrangler received the highest number of complaints of any Jeep model.

The Mini generated the most complaints of any brand – nearly 646 complaints per 100,000 vehicles.  The NHTSA received 427 complaints about Mini models in 2012. Buyers filed complaints relating to power trains, airbags, seat belts and steering, and the Cooper was the most-complained about model. Despite the high number of complaints, however, Mini sales in the U.S. have steadily climbed from a mere 45,225 in 2009 to 66,123 last year.

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