Are cars getting more or less reliable?

With each passing year, the car industry becomes safer and more reliable as a whole. It may seem like hyperbole at first glance, but this is truly the case because automakers are constantly adopting newer technologies that are designed to boost the overall efficiency during manufacturing which also benefits reliability.

Besides the general progress of the industry, most automakers tend to fine-tune their platforms as time moves on. This means that if a brand first introduced a sedan variant 30 years ago, newer sedans from that very same brand are now designed with 30 years worth of experience.

According to annual reliability studies carried by J.D. Power, it seems that the industry reached an all-time high in 2021 as far as brand reliability is concerned. Lexus is by no surprise the most reliable brand on the planet, but almost all brands are on a positive trajectory.

Cars are also equipped with more sophisticated technology, superiorly engineered components that offer higher tolerances, and because modern-day anti-corrosion coatings are exponentially more effective now compared to how they were a few decades ago.

Progression of the car industry as a whole

Experience is a worthy consideration when it comes to product development as a whole. If someone is in the business of building cars for decades, they are likely going to be more successful at it as opposed to someone else who is only starting out.

The industry has faced numerous setbacks throughout the years, but they kept on improving their production facilities to cope with such setbacks. Aspects such as in-depth analysis, AI participation and extremely advanced testing enables modern cars to be way more advanced than what they once were.

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Another thing to keep in mind is modern-day diagnostics tools which are designed to pinpoint an issue as early as possible which makes it easy for such issues to be remedied for future cars. Most automakers tend to spend increasing amounts of money on R&D while using similar platforms for multiple types of cars.

This means that they can spend more money on perfecting a single modular platform rather than spending less money on multiple different platforms which in turn increases reliability across the board.

J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability test 2021

J.D. Power is a global leader when it comes to all sorts of car-related data analysis, especially when it comes to car reliability. They are in the business of analyzing all sorts of cars for decades which means that they have a broad understanding of how modern-day cars operate.

According to the latest 2021 vehicle dependability study carried out by J.D. Power, modern-day cars are at an all-time high as far as dependability is concerned with a significant improvement when compared to earlier years.

The study concluded that the overall reliability standard of 2021 cars is 10% better than last year. The study covered a wide array of issues in more than 170 categories. The greatest takeaway from this year’s test is that modern-day 3-year old cars are significantly better than their predecessors with Lexus leading the charts once again.

Vulnerable areas of modern-day cars  

The main reason why some people believe that modern cars are not as reliable as they once were is mostly down to technology. Entertainment/communication/navigation/audio systems are the ones that cause the highest amount of issues reported by owners which leads many to believe that technology has ruined modern-day cars.

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Specific automotive trends such as the transition from real buttons towards touch-screen buttons are also a concern for many people because this solution is not nearly as dependable. Furthermore, many modern-day brands are pushing their voice activation systems but these are still in the early stage of development.

This means that they often make the entire ownership experience seem less reliable, but systems such as these are only the tip of the iceberg. The most important aspects of car dependability are down to the essentials such as mechanical components, vital electrics, and safety systems which are way more advanced these days.

FAQ Section

Are cars getting safer?

Modern-day cars are indeed becoming safer and safer with each newer generation. This is also down to experience and the general progression of the car industry. Newer cars are equipped with lots of safety features and airbags which were not present on older cars. ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) are also present in modern-day cars, and they keep getting better with each iteration.

Specific systems such as frontal, side, or rear collision prevention systems are traits of modern cars. Lane keep assist, drowsiness sensors, automatic braking, advanced cruise control systems are also making cars safer. Finally, modern-day cars include crumbling zones that are designed to deflect impact forces away from the cabin in an event of a crash.

Why are older cars better than newer cars?

Many people believe that older cars are better due to many reasons, and they primarily revolve around ever more rigorous emissions regulations and overuse of interior screens and technology. Older cars were often equipped with significantly more basic engines which were not burdened by all sorts of emissions regulations.

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Older cars are easier to work on, they don’t use so many computers and they are lighter and not as complex. Even though modern-day cars are indeed more reliable, older cars are easier to fix. Parts sharing is also a reoccurring theme in the modern-day car industry, and this was not all that prominent decades ago.

What are cars going to look like in the future?

With the introduction of the electric vehicle, the entire car industry is currently storming through a transition towards efficiency, safety, and technology. As such, cars will keep on becoming more complex and more efficient which means that large engines will soon cease to exist and will be replaced by hybrids and electric engines altogether.

Pedestrian and crash safety regulations are also becoming more and more rigorous which means that even the exterior car design will soon become more restrictive as well. Aerodynamics is an important factor when it comes to efficiency which means that futuristic cars will utilize a more slippery design.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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