JD Power reveals most common problem with 2019 cars

The results of the latest The JD Power 2022 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (hereafter referred to as VDS) were released earlier this month – and thanks to the trove of data in these results, we can dig up some useful tips for used car buyers, including the most common problems with 2019 model year vehicles.

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Annually, VDS analyzes survey data from thousands of owners of three-year-old vehicles and asks them to fill out a field report. A recent update to the test metrics calls for this year's study to examine more potential problem areas, such as driver assistance features, and also asks owners to rate their satisfaction with the condition of the vehicle after three years of use.

The data will be processed to determine a score called problems per 100, or PP100 – that is, the number of problems reported per hundred vehicles. Problems can be mechanical, electronic, or even relate to difficulties using certain vehicle features and functions. Problems, as they relate to the VDS, include virtually anything a vehicle owner might consider a problem.

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The key findings of the annual VDS are always interesting, and this year they may be even more so, as the survey is fresh from a redesign that captures even more relevant information.

Kia, Porsche top reliability in 2022 JD Power rankings

The 3 most common new car problems (and how to avoid them)

Infotainment systems remain an important sore spot. This was also the case in last year's study, and current data shows that more than half of the owners surveyed report problems here. Voice recognition, insufficient power and USB ports, outdated maps and hard-to-use navigation systems proved to be problem areas, as did connectivity to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

If you're a test driver looking at a used car that's a few years old, pay special attention to these areas during your test drive, as they're the most common cause of problems in 2019 -model year vehicles.

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JD Power VDS data also shows that cars from mainstream brands have an average of 14 fewer reported problems per 100 vehicles than cars from premium brands that use more complex electronics that drive advanced technology.

Translation? If you're buying a luxury model instead of a mainstream one, you're a little more likely to run into a problem.

A ranking of brands in the 2022 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study

By the way, one of the easiest ways to prevent potential problems with your vehicle's electronics is to make sure you always use a fresh and healthy battery, and even trickle charge if your vehicle is frequently parked for long periods of time. When cars sit during pandemic, battery health suffers – and you shouldn't underestimate the havoc a weak or dying battery can wreak on new car electronics.

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The top-performing brand in this year's study was Kia, with the highest overall reliability and a score of 145 PP100. Dodge, Buick, Toyota and Hyundai also rank high in this year's study. So if you're buying a few years old car or a crossover, these brands are a great place to start.

If you're shopping for a premium used car, Genesis tops the results at 155 PP100. Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac and Lincoln round out the top 5. These brands are great places to start looking if you're looking for a premium reliable ride.

Brands that come closest to the industry average reliability score of 192 PP100 include Ford, GMC, Mercedes and Jeep.

The most reliable car in the whole study? The Porsche 911. If that's out of the question for your next used car purchase, check out some segment winners instead.

Among car segments, the top ratings went to Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Impala, BMW 4 Series, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda MX-5, Ford Mustang and Lincoln MKZ. Among the SUV segments, top marks went to Lexus NX, Hyundai Santa Fe, Lexus UX, Buick Envision, Chevrolet Suburban, Buick Encore, Lexus RX, Kia Sorento and Porsche Cayenne. In the pickup and van segments, segment leaders Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Silverado HD, Nissan Frontier and Dodge Grand Caravan.

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This list of segment winners is a who's who of the most reliable 2019 model year vehicles a used car buyer can consider today. Incidentally, high scores in the VDS correlate strongly with high scores in the Initial Quality Study, or IQS, which for the first time analyzed owners' experiences with these vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. Here's how seven of the top 10 brands in this year's VDS were also the top-ranked brands in IQS. Simply put, a strong initial quality rating three years later is a good indicator of a good vehicle reliability rating.

By the way, you may want to consider putting brands like Land Rover, Volvo, Acura, Jaguar and Alfa Romeo on your "to avoid" list – they all scored near or at the bottom of this year's rankings.