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Study Finds Advanced Technology Problems As Top Car Complaint

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Is there ever a case of too much technology being introduced too soon?

Well, that seems to be the case when it comes to a healthy segment of drivers.

The 2016 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study points to cars' advancing technology as being at the top of consumer complaints.

Amongst the biggest issues, in particular? Disruptive voice-recognition systems and painful Bluetooth syncing, which accounted for 20 percent of all customer complaints.

Within the voice-recognition issue, 67 percent of owners said their infotainment system couldn't follow or misinterpreted their verbal orders. Within the Bluetooth connectivity complaint, 53 percent of owners said that their system failed to find or recognize the signal from their smartphone.

Overall, the displeasure with vehicles' ever-advancing technology helped lower perception of dependability in the study by 3 percent.

"That's a pretty big shift," Renee Stephens, vice president for J. D. Power, told the New York Times.

She added: "It begs the question, can this vehicle handle all the interactions that have to happen in order to get me from Point A to Point B without my involvement?"

Findings of the 2016 study continue a trend, which had complaints about the technology of the vehicle's infotainment systems going from the No. 5 most-complained-about area in 2014 to third last year and first in this year's installment.

Another issue that came up during the J.D. Power study found owners' blind-spot monitoring systems dangerously giving false readings, alerting drivers that it's safe to change lanes during moments when it was not.

"Consumers will not trust that they can take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road," Stephens said in reference to a potentially growing situation in which automakers fail to bolster their technology with accuracy.

However, Mark Boyadjis, an analyst at IHS Automotive, told the Times that he attributes the tech issues in this study to driver error and not the technology itself.

"It is naïve for anyone to think they can get into a vehicle that has 100 million lines of code, 10 times more than that of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and operate it without having to do any learning," he said. "That said, it does not mean an automaker is fine with making systems overly complex. If you don't care about designing with the user in mind, you are going to lose."

Overall, the 2016 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study encompasses issues experienced during the past 12 months by 33,560 original owners of vehicles that are three years old, so this study looked at issues with 2013 vehicles in 8 categories. Seven of the top 10 problems reported were design-related, which made design-related problems account for 39 percent of problems reported in the study, up 2 percentage points over 2015.

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