In an effort to increase fuel efficiency, automakers are turning to run-flat or low-rolling resistance tires. However, the price for this increased economy may be lower customer satisfaction. According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study, when automakers use run-flat tires on luxury vehicles, satisfaction drops to 728 on a 1,000 point scale from the 739 from luxury vehicles using standard tires.
With sports and performance vehicles the gap increases. Run-flat tires receive a 665 over the 732 for standard tires. One of the main reasons for such low satisfaction numbers is because more than 30 percent of customers have had to replace at least one tire during the first two years of ownership. Customers who have run-flat tires are twice as likely to replace a tire because of a flat or blowout over those with standard tires, and run-flat tires can’t be repaired as often.
“Automakers are trying to reach the next level of fuel economy, and are looking to their suppliers–in this case, tire manufacturers–to help them get there. The challenge is doing this while finding tires that meet customers’ expectations. Run-flat tires are not currently meeting those expectations,” said Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J. D. Power and Associates in the survey.
The results suggest that overall satisfaction is unchanged from 2012, with a score of 686. Tire ride decreases 6 points, as it has done year over year. The luxury segment had an overall satisfaction rating of 738, and Michelin ranked highest in three out of four segments, with Pirelli ranking highest in the truck/utility segment.
Customers have been experiencing fewer problems with their tires, with customers reporting 74 problems per 100 vehicles, improving from 2012′s 76 and 2011′s 84. The most common problems are slow leaks, excessive road noise, fast tread wear, and road hazards and punctures.
The study measures tire satisfaction in four segments including luxury, passenger car, performance sport, and truck/utility. Tire wearability, appearance, traction/handling, and ride are examined for the study, and rankings have been based on owner experience with the tires during the first two years of ownership. All responses are based on more than 30,835 owners with a model year of 2011 or 2012, with the study being conducted between October and December 2012.
Source: J.D. Power and Associates