Half of heavy-duty truck owners report engine problems in 2010

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Updated Sep 10, 2010

Following two rounds of revisions in emissions standards since 2004, problem rates for heavy-duty truck engines in 2010 are nearly twice as high, on average, as rates for engines manufactured prior to these emissions changes, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Heavy-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Study.

The study finds that 51 percent of owners of one-year-old heavy-duty truck engines in 2010 report experiencing some type of problem. However, prior to the changes in emissions standards that were implemented in 2004 and 2007, only 26 percent of owners of two-year-old truck engines experienced some type of problem.

“Clearly, the emissions requirements have put a burden on engine manufacturers, and the result is that today’s engines – although environmentally improved – are more problematic,” says Todd Markusic, senior director of the commercial vehicle practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Given the quality issues that arose from the last emissions standards redesign in 2007, the new emissions standards in 2010 will no doubt create another challenge for engine manufacturers, but those that best handle the integration of these new standards will have a competitive advantage.”

The study also finds that the number of engine problems increases by 55 percent, on average, after 50,000 miles of usage – up to 80.5 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) from 51.9 PP100. As a result, satisfaction with engines decreases by nearly 40 points (on a 1,000-point scale) after 50,000 miles. The most-commonly reported engine problems are issues with electronic control module calibration (cited by 14 percent of owners) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve (13 percent).

The study measures customer satisfaction with engines and transmissions in one-year-old Class 8 trucks. Engines from Detroit Diesel and Navistar perform particularly well. The 2010 U.S. Heavy-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Study is based on the responses of 1,682 primary maintainers of one model-year-old Class 8 trucks. The study was fielded in February and March 2010.