The Class of 2010’s Quality-Challenged Cars

For the 2010 model year, there was just under 70 brand new or heavily redesigned vehicles entering the marketplace. With thousands of parts combining to fabricate a vehicle, automakers are terribly concerned for their freshman products. Despite all the virtual and physical testing has been conducted prior to release within a vehicle’s development stage, the fact remains that the first buyers are somewhat like the tech-seekers who lined up for the new Apple iPad. With reputation for quality at stake, the chances of minor problems could injure ongoing respect of a vehicle. While quality is sold to the automotive buying public as a general term, automotive technicians actually have tools which detects and records a vehicle’s quality.

Of course, many of us are familiar with the safety-related recalls which receive mainstream media attention. When manufacturers identify a problem which could endanger the motorist and anyone else in the public, they have to contact their customers and perform a fix free of charge. However, another less known vehicle defect record is known as a Technical Service Bulletin(TSB). Regarding general quality issues not immediately related to safety concerns, TSBs are issued when service technicians and/or even the engineers discover a reoccurring problems which may be reported in customer vehicles.

Though a few Technical Service Bulletins are not entirely a major concern for a vehicle, too many have been known to sink a car’s popularly once the defects are known. The Ford Focus was greeted in the United States warmly for the 2000 model year but would quickly become a major thorn in the side of Ford in the North American market. Amassing over 150 TSBs in 16 months, items from cassette tape deck to body structure issues were listed.

Though rare, TSB issues have turned into safety recalls as in the case with Toyota and the all-weather floormats. Reported on the 2007 Lexus ES350 in April of the model year, the floormat issue would be taken more seriously a few years later.

For the class of 2010, the Kia Forte was currently (as of June 11th 2010) recorded 15 technical service bulletins. TSB issues include Oil Control Valves, seat belt warning sensors and power steering complications. Though a praised vehicle, the new territory which this vehicle is charting for Kia, as a true family car contender, deserves a little time to mature.

Because Technical Service Bulletins pertain to minor part of a vehicle, even vehicles built on a similar platform may not compile the same number of issues. In one case, the all-new GMC Terrain has 14 TSBs registered with the NHTSA while the Cadillac SRX and Chevrolet Equinox, built on the same Theta platform, each suffer just one such report.

With several 2010 model year vehicles affected by 0 or just a single Technical Service Bulletin, included below note vehicles with 4 or more TSBs.

2010 Model Year Vehicles Affected By More Than 4 TSBs:

Kia Forte 15
GMC Terrain 14
Mercedes S-Class 13
Nissan Sentra 12
Nissan 370Z 10
Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan 8
Pontiac Vibe 8
Volvo XC60 8
Nissan Cube 6
Madza3 5
Mercedes-Benz E350 4
Lexus RX350 4
Subaru Legacy 4
Subaru Outback 4

Please note if you have a vehicle is thought to be affected by a Technical Service Bulletin that you do not need to bolt for your car service center. Since TSBs are non-safety related items, a technician will address the problem in the next vehicle service. On one final note, keep in mind that these issues should often be remedied for free under warranty or sometimes off the advertised vehicle warranty.

Information Source: NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation

Photo Source: Chris Nagy

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