Hino medium-duty truck engines ranked highest in customer satisfaction for the fifth year in a row, according to an annual study compiled by J.D. Power & Associates, with Cummins and Paccar medium-duty engines ranked second and third, respectively.

J.D. Power’s 2012 U.S. Medium-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Study is based on responses from 1,272 primary maintainers of one-year-old conventional cab medium-duty trucks.

Conducted between June and July this year, the research firm said its study measured customer perceptions of 2011 model-year Class 5, 6 and 7 gasoline- and diesel-powered engines alike according to eight attributes: reliability and dependability; ease of access for service or maintenance; maintaining speeds on grades; acceleration when fully loaded; control module (ECM); vibration at idle; engine warranty; and average fuel economy. 

Overall, J.D. Power said its survey discerned that the number of engine and fuel problems decreased to 40 problems per 100 trucks (PP100), down by 11 PP100 from 2011. However, while the number of problems has decreased, the average length of unscheduled downtime due to these problems is 13.4 days, an increase of 2.7 days from 2011.

“As engine manufacturers continue to make advances in technology, there will likely be fewer problems,” said Brent Gruber, director of J.D. Power’s commercial vehicle practice. “However, the trade-off is that when problems occur, they will likely be more complicated and require more downtime to fix.”

Other findings from the firm’s fifth annual medium-duty study include:

  • Overall satisfaction with medium-duty truck engines is 760 on a 1,000-point scale and increases to 778 when selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technologies are used to meet emission requirements.
  • Satisfaction varies among the different classes of trucks, with an 11-point gap in satisfaction between the highest- and lowest-scoring classes.
  • The greatest difference among the three truck classes is the number of reported PP100, with considerably fewer engine problems reported for Class 5 trucks, compared with Class 6 and Class 7 trucks.
  • Hino took the top slot with a score of 801, while Cummins scored a 793 and Paccar pegged 789.

Gruber also noted that customer perception of truck engine performance is the most important factor of overall truck satisfaction, as owners who rate their overall engine satisfaction 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale – compared with those who rate their overall engine satisfaction 8 or lower – are more than twice as likely to say they “definitely will” specify the same engine brand again when buying a new truck (50% vs. 19%, respectively) and repurchase the same vehicle brand (50% vs. 21%, respectively).

“By exceeding customers’ expectations, engine manufacturers are generating customer loyalty for both the engine and truck brands,” he stressed.