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J.D. Power: Bluetooth still problematic in cars

Study finds connecting devices to cars via Bluetooth is second biggest complaint among consumers.

By Douglas Newcomb 4 hours ago

As automakers add more connected features to their cars, using Bluetooth for making hands-free phone calls is by now a basic technology, and the connection for more advanced functions.

But according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, the second biggest complaint consumers have about the technology in their cars is simply getting their phones to connect with a car via Bluetooth.

Similar to J.D. Power’s much-watched Initial Quality Study, the 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study queried more than 85,000 new-vehicle buyers after their first 90 days of ownership on the quality, design and features of their audio, communication and navigation systems. Issues with Bluetooth followed only voice recognition as the most reported problem.

While owners reported fewer problems overall with Bluetooth compared with last year — 5.7 problems per 100 vehicles in 2014, down from 6.3 in 2013 — Mike VanNieuwkuyk, J.D. Power’s executive director, global automotive, told Automotive News that this still a “very high level problem.” Especially given the prevalence of Bluetooth in cars and that even the most basic feature, phone pairing, is giving consumers fits.

J.D. Power said that Bluetooth was available in 93 percent of survey participants’ cars. But of those who complained of Bluetooth problems, 40 percent said the system won’t find or recognize a mobile device during the initial pairing process. Another 30 percent reported that the device wouldn’t automatically reconnect after being paired.

Pairing a Bluetooth phone is typically the first step before a driver can not only use a phone hands-free but also access features such as music streaming, text messaging, smartphone apps and navigation. VanNieuwkuyk added that “more and more consumers are saying, ‘We expect a Bluetooth.’ Most everybody is traveling with their phone. Those folks are not getting the value of being able to pair the phone with their vehicle.”

Only voice recognition scored worse than Bluetooth in the 2014 survey. Power found that problems with voice recognition averaged 8.3 vehicles per 100 this year, while it was 7.6 in 2013.

[Source: Automotive News]

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