Tesla, Jaguar, Volvo lead consumer software complaints in 2016

J.D. Power's SafetyIQ program shows that 2016 is on pace to be a record-setting year for customer software complaints.

This isn't the kind of record-breaking year we want to have.

J.D. Power

Nobody likes a complainer. Nobody, that is, except for data companies and the federal government. Using a compilation of internal measures and info from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), J.D. Power's SafetyIQ program tracks consumer software complaints, no matter the reason. And it appears that 2016 won't be much better than last year in terms of finicky software.

"Consumer complaints are the canaries in the coalmine for automobile manufacturers when it comes to anticipating future recalls and longer-term customer satisfaction," said Renee Stephens, a J.D. Power vice president, in a statement.

"Using this information from owner complaints, automakers can quickly identify whether the problem crosses model lines, components or even other companies with similar components/suppliers, and can begin to address the breadth of the concerns," Stephens said.

Thus far, there have been 202 formal complaints sent to NHTSA, just two off from last year's tally in the same time frame. The trend suggests that 2016 is on pace to meet, or possibly even exceed, the 615 complaints logged last year. That number has been on the rise since 2013. At the same time, the sheer number of vehicles being recalled has also increased.

Software complaints aren't just about Bluetooth -- they cover everything from electrical systems to engine cooling.

According to J.D. Power's data, the six brands with the fewest number of software complains are Chevrolet, Ram, Mazda, Toyota, GMC and Subaru. On the other side of the spectrum, the six brands with the most complaints are Smart, Isuzu, Tesla, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover. That's about on par with other J.D. Power studies, like its Initial Quality Study.

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