What is the Vehicle Dependability Study?

Before getting into the technicalities of the Vehicle Dependability Study, or commonly known as the VDS in the US, think about your car as a consumer for a moment. What are your common expectations from your vehicle? Sure, you want it to look great and drive great, but you will also want your car to give you minimum troubles. Every time you have to take your car to the shop for maintenance or repairing, that is one, an added hassle, two, an expense, and three, a chunk out of your car’s total life. As a consumer, what you really want is a dependable vehicle, which will face near-zero mechanical failures and serve you seamlessly for a long time.

In 1968, James David Power III decided to quantify a vehicle’s dependability. Thus, came J.D. Power that conducts market surveys in various industries (a major being automotive) to take note of consumer behavior and satisfaction and mark the specific products accordingly. And as the name goes in Vehicle Dependability Study, it surveys American car owners and then assigns a dependability or reliability score to each model.

What is the Vehicle Dependability Study?

J.D. Power conducts a nation-wide Vehicle Dependability Study or VDS by surveying thousands of vehicle owners who have had their car exactly for three years. The company inquires about the problems they face with that car at that very moment and overall, covers a total of 177 common problems that three-year-old vehicles are likely to face. Then, Power presents the results in the form of issues per 100 vehicles and scores them out of 100. In other words, a specific model with a score of 100 in VDS will mean that the vehicles of that model are likely to have 100 problems after three years per 100 vehicles. Or at an average of 1 problem per car.

As evident, you will want to buy a car with a lower VDS score. Out of two or more models, the one with the least score indicates that it is likely to show lesser problems after three years from your date of purchase. Plus, if you are planning to buy a cheap used car, the VDS score can also help to give you an idea about how dependable your vehicle will be in the long run. In other words, whether it will run with minimum faults or face frequent hiccups.

How reliable in the VDS score?

You definitely know better by now that you cannot just blindly trust any score that you see against a car. For instance, during their study in the year 2017-2018, J.D. Power rated the Chevrolet Traverse with 84. You may instantly assume that is pretty high and conclude that the Traverse is not that reliable, or you can look at a friend who owns that exact same model and has not faced much in a matter of 5 years. VDS score just gives you an estimate of reliability. It is not an absolute figure that defines a car’s dependability.

For better judgment, while buying a quality used cars, pick your preferred model, visit the J.D. Power official site and scan through the car’s VDS scores over the years. If it improves for a span of 3-5 years, that is the score falls in value, then you can safely conclude that the car you are about to buy is definitely reliable. There is always the factor where the automakers miss out on a few parameters with one of their models, but they do make a comeback the next year. Visit a good dealership like Happy Auto Sales that guarantee you quality, keep VDS as one of your parameters, and buy cars with warrantees just to be extra sure.


This is personal blog for Happy Auto Greer. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner is not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner is not liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. Reader’s discretion is advised.