Each year, prospective car buyers call us with one constant inquiry: “Which cars receive the most complaints?” Thank goodness for Consumer Advocate Jack Gillis, author of the Ultimate Car Book. Each year, Mr. Gillis puts together a projected car complaint index, comparing the number of complaints submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the number of cars sold. This year’s index is a little surprising….
Tops on the list this year is the Volkswagen Passat, followed by
Mercedes Benz M Class
Mazda MX5 Miata
and the Subaru B9 Tribeca
You can view the complete list by clicking here.
And if you are looking for a great read on auto-related issues, you can purchase Jack’s book by clicking here.
Now, just because your car may be on this list does NOT mean it is a lemon. These are the cars that are receiving the highest number of complaints per sales, however it is important to note that these complaints are subjective and may not always hold merit. Case in point: a constant on the list is the Toyota Prius, the granddaddy of all hybrids. Why is the Prius always on the list? Because consumers are uncomfortable with the sudden surge once the car comes out of a stop. What they fail to realize however is that this is a characteristic of a hybrid vehicle, and not a defect. The bottom line is this list should serve as one research tool when buying a car and not the end-all, be-all.
That being said, there are still many legitimate complaints we are seeing among these cars (visit the NHTSA consumer complaint database by clicking here.) Consumers are complaining the most about airbag lights coming on (and in the case of the VW Jetta, airbags unintentionally deploying), check engine lights coming on for no reason, and engine hesitation and stalling. These are also among the top automobile defects we see coming through our office every day. it is amazing that with such amazing, innovative technology coming out of the automotive industry, we are still seeing the same defects again and again.
If you are experiencing these problems, it is important that you visit your service manager, and keep all repair invoices. Make sure the invoices outline the problems you complain about and what the service manager has done to fix the problem. Also, if the problem reoccurs, you should keep a log, and if necessary contact a lemon law firm, be it us or someone else. Make sure you are not being charged any cost, retainer or contingency. And, as we have said before–DO NOT DO THIS ON YOUR OWN! You have access to legal help. If you need it, take advantage of it.
Do manufacturers pay attention to this list? You bet your axle they do. The first year we issued this list in 2001, the Mazda MPV was tops on the index. Immediately after we published the index, we received a letter from Mazda outlining the ways they had addressed the problems consumers complained about. As a result, Mr. Gillis took them off the list. Furthermore, while Ford was a constant presence for years on the list, this year’s index does not contain one Ford vehicle. We are happy to see they are listening to their consumers.
Thanks again to Mr. Gillis, Ms. Curran, and their staff for allowing us to share this information with consumers.