Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Heavy-Duty Trucks Seeing More Engine Problems

All those late-model clean trucks at places like the Southern California ports may be cutting harmful emissions, but the truck engines may be leaving some owners fuming, according to a J.D. Powers and Associates study released last week.

The group's 14th annual US Heavy-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Study found that 51 percent of owners of one-year-old heavy-duty truck engines in 2010 report experiencing some type of problem. However, prior to two rounds of revisions in emission 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,” said Todd Markusic, senior director of the commercial vehicle practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Given the quality issues that arose from the last emission 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, which looked at heavy-duty trucks nationwide, also found that that the number of engine problems increased 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 found by the study were issues with electronic control module calibration (cited by 14 percent of owners) and exhaust gas recirculation valve (13 percent).

The J.D. Powers' study was based on the responses of 1,682 primary maintainers of one-model-year-old heavy-duty (Class 8) trucks. The study was fielded in February and March 2010.