Infotainment systems cause half of common modern car reliability problems

Mike Vousden
July 26, 2016

As cars get more advanced, so do the problems that afflict them. Broken infotainment systems are now among the most common complaints

It’s true that modern cars are significantly more mechanically reliable than those of just five years ago – despite being more advanced than ever.

However, a recent survey by JD Power shows that the most common problems in new cars are caused by infotainment systems.

In-car entertainment is one of the fastest developing areas of car design with a multitude of different functions and, seemingly, a multitude of different failures waiting to happen.

Of the 11 different infotainment-related problems car reliability experts JD Power measure, a grand total of five appear in the top 10 most prevalent overall car issues. This means infotainment and surrounding problems disproportionately affect cars compared to other issues, suggesting car designers need to put more work into this area to keep customers’ worries at bay.

The most common complaints surrounded issues with pairing phones with in-built Bluetooth, jointly tied with problems getting radio reception. Following that were problems with voice recognition technology failing to recognise given voice commands, itself tied with issues getting the navigation system to start up. The final infotainment issue to break into the top 10 was inaccurate or simply incorrect instructions given by the sat nav.

In our opinion, we don’t know why manufacturers are bothering at all to develop expensive infotainment systems. Effectively every potential owner will have a smartphone designed by companies who spend millions ensuring their devices work reliability and intuitively. We feel better integration of smartphones via systems such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink would work better for the majority of motorists.

In a separate study, JD Power found buyers who found audio systems in cars difficult to use were put off buying that brand again by a larger degree compared to other issues. This shows that it pays for carmakers to make their infotainment systems as easy to use as possible.