Infotainment and tranmissions killing reliability of cars – Business … – Business Insider
Consumer Reports is out with its 2016 Annual Auto Reliability
Survey, and the watchdog publication has observed a troubling
pair of complaints among vehicle owners and CR subscribers.
Advanced infotainment systems and more fuel-efficient multispeed
transmissions are causing problems.
Neither issue should surprise anyone. In just about a decade,
vehicles have gone from having radios, tape decks, and CD players
to having complicated touchscreen infotainment interfaces that
manage everything from GPS navigation to audio to smartphone
Most automakers develop their own infotainment systems, and some
work far better than others. But even with the ones that cause
limited trouble, the kinks are still being worked out.
At Business Insider, we test out numerous infotainment systems,
and while we don’t much care for the less user-friendly versions,
we don’t usually have the vehicles long enough to see a lot of
glitches. Every so often, however, we sample one that’s a huge
pain to make work properly or that freezes up — or is utterly
frustrating to negotiate.
The more fuel-efficient transmissions are a different story.
While 4-and 5-speed automatics used to be common — and were quite
reliable — newer 7-, 8-, and 9-speed units have been introduced
in recent years. The additional speeds or gearings, in concert
with sophisticated engine-management computers, enable cars to
serve up better MPGs.
That is, when they work properly.
Lately, we’ve found that some 8- and 9-speeds to misbehave when
driving. Again, we don’t test our sample cars to failure. But we
can see that this might be a point of irritation for owners.
What’s disturbing about this is that the pace of infotainment
development isn’t slowing down. A great deal more tech is being
foisted on consumers — both because it’s possible and because car
buyers are demanding it. And automakers are up against more
stringent future fuel-economy standards for their fleets, to they
have to come up with ways to increase MPGs overall, especially of
they want to keep selling highly profitable big pickups and SUVs.
The auto industry has made tremendous strides in reliability over
the past two decades, to the point that there aren’t really any
truly bad cars anymore.
But if this arms race on infotainment persists, and if carmakers
can’t come up with more basic ways to improve fuel economy, then
the industry runs the risk of rolling back some of its
hard-wrought reliability gains.