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SA vehicle quality: Most common car problems revealed

2017-11-02 12:00

Image: iStock

Johannesburg - Despite our comparatively small market, South African vehicle buyers not only have one of the widest selections of new vehicles to choose from but also benefit from “very high quality standards in terms of vehicle quality and customer service”, reports Ipsos. 

The Ipsos vehicle quality survey highlights vehicle design issues by owners. This year the average number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) combined score improved to 73, an improvement of 10% in combined defect and design issues compared to the previous period (81 PP100).

The data was obtained from more than 7000 interviews with new owners who purchased their vehicle(s) during 2016. 

Ipsos says: "The 17 brands surveyed represent 72% of new vehicle sales in SA during 2016."

What are the common problems reported?


What are some of your most common car problems? Do you agree with the Ipsos survey? Email us

Fuel consumption was the biggest cause for customer complaints, comprising 13 of the 16 vehicle segments into which Ipsos divides the SA car market.  This issue is driven to a broader degree by the high price of fuel and fluctuations in the market.

And SA's top vehicle brands for customer service are...

The only categories that did not rate fuel consumption as the biggest bugbear were Sports Coupe (park assist issues), Multi-Purpose Vehicles (road holding) and Large Recreational Vehicles (satnav systems difficult to operate). However, fuel consumption was still second for both MPV and Large Recreational Vehicles with engine malfunction being the second biggest gripe for Sports Coupe owners.

Low performance, road holding, unspecified noises and audio malfunction were the other vehicle quality complaints that were rated second highest by the buyers surveyed. The complex technology systems found in today’s vehicles resulted in matters such as information system issues and tyre-sensor issues being listed among the third-ranked complaints.

Locally built vs imported vehicles

An interesting insight is that there were more complaints with imported passenger cars than those made locally, whereas in the LCV market it was the other way around, with locally-made models rated lower than the imports. 

Image: iStock

On average, ‘hard’ defects counted for 38 PP100 and ‘softer’ design issues for 22 PP100 in terms of locally-made passenger cars, while for imported cars the defects totalled 41 PP100 and design aspects 27. In the case of LCVs, the split was 54 PP100 for defects and 32 for design on locally-built models, while in the case of imported LCVs it was 39 PP100 for defects and 28 for design.

Vehicle problems by segment: Problems per 100 reported (PP100)







Patrick Busschau, Ipsos Automotive Business Unit Director: "As consumers, we can all be very pleased and proud to see that our automotive industry average has once again improved despite the addition of subjective design issues.

"This is a credit to the automotive industry because most problems linked to perceived design issues, which bother customers these days, are more likely related to their individual expectations and needs around the product experience. Measuring the product experience this way enables the manufacturers to truly address customer needs and to adjust their designs if necessary to align with their customer expectations. This is opposed to the past when only straight defects and production errors with the vehicle were used to calculate the PP100 scores.

"Now the goalposts have moved significantly and we have adapted our measurement system accordingly, to accept design issues in addition to concrete defects. There is a weighting applied as tangible defects have a slightly higher impact on the customer experience, so have a greater loading in the scoring."

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