J.D. Powers Says Truck Diesel Engines are Causing Problems

The J.D. Powers and Associates 2006 Heavy-Duty Truck Engine/Transmission Study, now in its 10th year, measures customer satisfaction with engines in two-year-old heavy-duty vocational trucks. “In the 2005 study, there was a greater mix of manufacturers using old- and new-technology engines, so we’re just now starting to see the overall impact of the emission regulations,” says Brian Etchells, senior research manager in the commercial vehicle group at J.D. Power.

The study is based on responses of 2,529 primary maintainers of two-year-old heavy-duty trucks (Class 8). Vocational trucks are defined as those with body types used in rugged job applications, such as dump trucks, concrete mixers, and garbage/refuse recycling trucks.

The study examines four vital engine characteristics: engine quality (30%); engine performance (26%); engine cost of ownership (22%); and engine warranty (22%). Studied were engines supplied in 2004 model-year trucks, the second model year in which elevated diesel engine emission standards were instituted. According to the study, the average number of reported engine problems has increased to 74 PP100 (engine problems per 100 vehicles)—up from 46 PP100 in 2005.

Etchells does issue a note of caution. “Whenever a new technology is employed, it takes a while to work the bugs out,” he notes. “As time goes on and engines are better equipped and designed to follow the emission standards, the number of problems should gradually decline.”

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