Software-Related Recalls, Driver Frustration on the Rise


If you’re like us, you love all the new tech going into cars these days. It’s making cars safer and keeping us connected like never before, but not without some kinks, which is frustrating to many drivers.

Driver complaints about software-related glitches shot up 22 percent last year in a new J.D. Power and Associates SafetyIQ survey that also incorporated data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The brands getting the most flack over tech and software-related glitches include Smart Car, Tesla, Volvo, and sister luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover. These brands received the highest number of complaints related to software per 1,000 vehicles over a five year period from 2011 to 2016. The brands with the fewest number of complaints over that time period are Chevrolet, GMC, Ram, Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru.

Researchers say the bottom line is that many people are worried about the loss of reliable transportation.

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

“I’m concerned about cars becoming more like computers. Imagine if cars had as many glitches as computers. There’d be breakdowns all over the road,” says one anonymous consumer.

Recall data backs up the complaints. Software-related recalls rose 45 percent from 2014 to 2015. In the past five years 189 software recalls have been issued. Making matters worse, 141 of those were for issues that could cause serious crashes by causing loss of vehicle control. Plus, 55 percent of owners say the upgrades failed to resolve the issue.

J.D. Power says recall service bulletins issued from manufacturers to dealers is also on the rise. The average of 58 annually from 2006 to 2010 rose to 160 from 2011 to 2015.

If there is any good news, it’s that automakers are taking complaints seriously and working quickly to improve their systems. Tesla is now offering  wireless software upgrades, while other automakers are sending out home upgrade kits. However, most upgrades still occur at a dealer service center. 

Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover
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